Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an elusive age
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an elusive age is the first of the Dragon Quest series to have a PC release. The story takes a lot of trope of the genre but manages to pull it all together; such as being born unto greatness, being adopted as an infant and grew up only knowing a simple life. Being told fanciful stories of a legendary hero, then finding out that you are that hero incarnate. It is a story of betrayal, a story of the light versus the dark or good versus evil; having to climb your way to your full potential in order to be anointed.
Granted I made it about 10 hours in before ‘Damned Cat’ stepped on my PC’s reset button corrupting the save files (that were then backed up to steam cloud save) meaning that I had to start over. However, I do believe while I haven’t experienced the full story, I was able to experience it enough to bring you all the info you need on the look feel and mechanics for you to make a decision yourself as to whether or not you should pick up the game yourself. So let’s go, shall we?
Dragon Quest XI follows the Dragon Quest anime esthetic set by the brand, but somehow manages to go above an beyond. Perhaps I am biased here but I think the game looks amazing. While playing it I couldn’t quite put my finger on why this felt so familiar. When looking through the credits I found that it was animated by Akira Toriyama whom if you don’t know is the man responsible for Dragon Ball. This explains it, the art style and similarity between Dragon Quest XI’s characters and world parallels that of Dragon Ball and Toriyama’s other works like Chrono Trigger. The parallels only get stronger from there, the main character also referred to as the Luminary, draws a striking resemblance to Dragon Ball Z’ (Future) Trunks. Visual similarities aside, Dragon Quest XI is gorgeous.
The audio of a game is just as important for a game’s immersion as visuals music helps set the mood and can really drive home the ability to manipulate the player’s feelings. You might not think so but there is a lot of science that goes into a score for a film, play or in this case a video game. Music, voice acting, and even sound effects should add to a game to drive home its narrative.
Voice acting is something I would consider to be something new to RPGs. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that we would see voice acting make its way into video games. Final Fantasy X was the first I can recall that had full character voice acting other than a few odd sound effect or screams. This is the one area Dragon Quest XI really fell short for me. Take this with a grain of salt as I am not a linguist nor can I pinpoint a person’s neighborhood. The character’s in Dragon Quest XI seem to have a British accent. I know that will cover a lot of changes in dialect but hang with me here.
Then there is Gemma one of the female character you meet early on. She starts out sounding a little Cockney (South East London) Having her TH sounds roll between “da” “ff” and “vv”, [this->diss] [think->fink], [bother->bover]. However, mid-conversation her voice goes into an Australian “crikey”, sounding like Bindi Irwin (daughter of the late Steve Irwin). At times sounding deep American South maybe… Alabama (think Forrest Gump). It seems like a silly complaint but if you were not looking at the screen you’d think they had two or three characters on screen finishing each other’s sentences. It is as if Gemme’s character is voice acted by multiple people and then the audio tracks were spliced together in post.
The music production in Dragon Quest XI is pretty damned great. While it is not as spectacular as music composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu being the famed composer for most of the Final Fantasy Series. The game’s music does a really good job of keeping the player drawn in. Also giving subtle tugs on the emotional strings. Whether it be the push the feeling of suspense, betrayal, joy; all-in-all Dragon Quest music does its job well and maybe the redeeming factor after the voice acting fiasco.
Gameplay mechanics feel really well fleshed out. You explore the game through and overworld (third person) view and encounters are brought in to a battle sequence. As you approach most enemies you can sneak up on them and attack gaining a ‘first strike’ in the coming battle sequence. Battling is turn-based, here you choose whether to attack, defend, use spells/specials or items. There are special link abilities you can do when multiple members of your party are charged enough to perform them. Item procurement can be done either the old fashioned way (buying things) or as you advance you can unlock a “fun-sized forge” and play a bit of a mini-game to turn your junk into weapons and armor.
Autosaving happens occasionally but hard saves are done at various campsites and goddess statues. Areas tend to be closed off and corridor-like, though nicely done. The game does a fair bit of hand-holding but it’s not unbearable.
All-in-all Dragon Quest XI is a fun game with a beautiful world tried and true mechanics. The music is pretty great and the voice acting is forgivable. The game normally retails for $59.99, however, it is currently on sale for 40% off through Steam (12/20/2018). So far I’ve enjoyed it and even having to start over doesn’t bother me. I’d recommend it.
If you want to check out my opinions on other games, go see my write up of Moonlighter from the developer DigitalSun and publisher 11bitStudios.