‘Dragon Quest XI’ brings series to modern age


The hero at the gates of Heliodor. Photo credit: Ulises Duenas

“Dragon Quest” is considered the grandfather of Japanese RPGs. The series has been going for over 30 years and has never strayed too far from its roots. Its newest incarnation, “Dragon Quest XI”, does an amazing job of blending classic gameplay with more modern RPG mechanics to create what’s arguably the best game in the series.

One of the things that’s always set this series apart from other RPGs is the art style. Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball Z) has been designing the characters and monsters since the beginning. His designs have always added a great deal of beauty and charm to the world and they’ve never looked as good as they do in this game.

The story isn’t anything new for the series. You play as a silent hero who has been chosen by fate to save the world from a great evil. While the basic premise is cliche, the characters in the game keep it from feeling tired. The writers have also done a good job of adding more intrigue to the story by making the world more interesting.

I’m about 10 hours into the game so far and there’s already been a good amount of variety in the environments. The game starts off in a quiet village and before long the hero goes to a large royal city, a town modeled after feudal Japan, and a city in the desert. Each one of these locations has a different culture and the difference in how the locals sound really drives home their distinctiveness. Voice acting as a whole is very well done in this game.

Combat is still turn-based and very simple compared to most modern RPGs. It starts off really slow in the beginning, since it takes a while to get a full party of characters. Still, there’s a good amount of strategy involved in battles once more characters join in. The highlight of combat is easily the monsters themselves. Their variety and unique animations are always fun to watch. I found myself constantly searching for new enemies to fight just to see how they are animated in battle.

My only complaint so far is that the game has been pretty linear. There are still dungeons and larger over-world areas to explore, but the game doesn’t allow the player to get into places that you’re not supposed to until you progress through the story enough. There’s a good amount of side quests offered, but they usually just send you to places you’ve already been. Since this is supposedly a 90 hour game, there’s a good chance that it will open up once I get to a certain point in the story.

“Dragon Quest XI” is the kind of game that makes you think about playing it when you’re off doing other things. It’s addictive and charming from the beginning. While it doesn’t do too much to innovate it does a great job of adding in new ideas. I can’t wait to dive deeper into this gem and when the game is done I’ll be back with a full review. Stay tuned.

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter.