Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age Review (PS4)
Traditional Japanese RPGs don't come much more stylish and engrossing than this...
AnalysisThe long-running Dragon Quest series has always existed in Final Fantasy's shadow outside of Japan, but it has never really done itself a lot of favours in that regard. Between name changes (early titles had to be released in the US as Dragon Warrior due to trademark issues) and missing titles (many mainline games never left Japan, and Europe didn't even see its first DQ until 2006 – even the last release, DQX, was Japan-only), it's not the easiest thing to follow for foreign fans, although the quality has never been in doubt whenever we have been lucky enough to get in on the action.
VIII on PS2 was a cel-shaded masterpiece that looked as close to a cartoon as the tech of the time would allow, IX was a pun-packed DS adventure with co-op components and crazy customisation and now here we are, faced with the series' glorious return on modern hardware and sure enough, that quality we've come to expect is very much present once again.
Dragon Quest localisations are always packed with character
Its story might not deviate too greatly from the typical heroes-save-the-world formula commonly seen in this genre, but the fantastic cast works wonders to embellish what might otherwise have been a fairly unremarkable tale.
Dragon Quest localisations are always packed with character, and your host of heroes hero follows that trend brilliantly to the point that you'll quickly settle on a personal favourite or two. While their personalities might be fixed, the customisation system allows you to alter and augment their combat abilities to better suit your needs, therefore allowing you to make whatever selection of characters you like best workable. It's a neat solution to the usual problem of having to leave some party members on the bench – although you still only use a portion of your available fighters, it's usually possible to settle on a party of characters you like while still being able to pull their weight in battle.
The beautiful cartoon visuals look closer to the concept and press art for the series by legendary artist Akira Toriyama (of Dragon Ball fame), and make for an amazing-looking adventure in a stunning fantasy world. The disappointing soundtrack (in its execution, at least – composition is still pretty good, but the MIDI-style tunes feel at odds with the otherwise sublime presentation) is the only real weak link here, but even this doesn't manage to put too much of a damper on the experience as a whole.
- Looks amazing
- Great cast
- Great traditional JRPG gameplay
- Familiar narrative
- Weak soundtrack
- Reminds us of all the great DQ games we missed out on
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age Review (PS4)Its traditional mechanics and setup mean its unlikely to change your mind if you don't already enjoy JRPGs but for those that do, Dragon Quest XI is one of the best examples of the genre at its most traditional of this generation.
There's a good 100-odd hours of game here if it suckers you in, and it most likely will – if it doesn't, it's unlikely that any JRPG will, as they don't come a whole lot more impressive than this. Ni No Kuni 2 was fantastic, sure, but it didn't quite scratch the same old-school itch that DQXI does, so let's hope we've seen the last of this series staying at home and get to play them all in the future.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £39.99
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