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Dragon Quest XI was well worth the wait and here's why!

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    Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    Dragon Quest XI was well worth the wait and here's why!

    Ok, so the long-awaited continuation of the all-time classic Square Enix series has finally arrived to people outside of Japan. It’s been more than a year since it was around, and most jRPG fans were very eager to try out this game. And now it’s here, for all American and European games ¨C please welcome, the Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age! Since DQ is one of those creations you just can’t miss if you are truly into role-playing games, then this review should cover the reasons for why should you get this baby.

    For me, DQ started with part VIII on PS2, which quickly became a favorite of mine, and I still consider it to be one of the best jRPGs ever. If you also love that 2004 title, the XI part is perfect for you. Let’s go into details.

    Visuals: 10/10. Cel-shading at its finest. This is probably one of the most graphically polished pieces ever, and you won’t find many games of that level on PS4. The world of DQ XI is full of color and vibrance, and the designers made it look so cool with the animated stuff that you might wanna sit hours and hours through the cutscenes just to gaze at the surroundings. The attention to detail is magnificent, up to the point where you can spot cracks and scratches on character’s shoes. They went as far as working out every inch of the backgrounds in all of the locations. The enemies are all pictured really well and have memorable and good-looking appearances.

    Sound: 9/10. Koichi Sugiyama is well-known for his work for DQ series, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this installment still boasts the master’s musical accompaniment. The orchestrated music fits the game very well and makes it sound so different from any other jRPG. It’s one of those games where you always wanna keep your volume up even when navigating dungeons or caves cause the music just gives you that vibe and is, so to speak, closely related to everything happening on the screen. It’s really a wonder how perfectly it tries to project the tone and narration of the story to the player. The voice-overs are pretty good, too. Yet again, Square Enix did a great job at casting actors for DQ game. You will hear all kinds of accents, talks etc. Sometimes they are so funny you will actually find yourself laughing.

    Gameplay: 10/10. The gameplay can be broken into two sections: exploration and battles. Let us cover the exploration part first. As a staple for many jRPGs, you travel through the world’s towns, villages, plains, dungeons and caves and speak to NPCs, kill monsters and uncover hidden treasures. There are treasure chests all over the place, as well as pots, jars, barrels and crates where you can find goodies. Sometimes you use ropes to climb, jump on the boxes to get on the roofs of houses or simply to navigate through a cave. Not to mention, later in the game you get certain items that let you come back to explore the previously inaccessible places, open locked chests, doors, etc. You also get different means of transportation as you progress through the game. For me, the exploration part is the icing on the cake of DQ XI. It never gets boring and makes you really explore the surroundings thoroughly. If you are a completionist, you may get bonus enjoyment from doing these little side quests and filling your pockets with different useful items scattered all over the fantasy world of Erdrea.

    The combat system is pure old school turn-based jRPG fun. I truly think the developers should be given certain praise for actually not changing and revamping the battle system cause we all know, more often than not it turns out worse than expected. As I already said, in battles you and your enemies take turns to attack each other with physical attacks or magic and use certain items to aid your party or hurt your foes. You also earn skill points to develop new skills, and there is also a Pep system. When a character gets ¡°pepped up¡±, he enters a kind of berserk mode to deal additional damage to the enemies. When multiple characters get pepped up, they can perform combined attacks for double damage. When you are travelling through the overworld or dungeons, you can actually see monsters walking around as the game has no random encounters. When in battles, the player can toggle between a 3D or 2D mode. The 2D mode makes the battle system look exactly like older generation Dragon Quest games.

    Storyline: 10/10. If you’ve played other DQ games before, you should probably be familiar with the overall concept of the series’ game plots. The story starts with a mysterious toddler barely escaping death and ending up in a secluded village. Several years later, we are presented with a fine young man who enjoys the coming of age ritual along with his friend. As the plot develops, he leaves his home village and heads for the unknowns of the vast and unexplored world outside. To make the long story short, this is a typical Dragon Quest story. Yet it is very interesting, has its twists and turns and at times very exciting (although to be completely fair, sometimes it’s a liiiiitle predictable, which I believe is completely fine).

    Playtime: 9/10. This game is massive. Not only the main story will take you 50-60 hours at the very least, the side stuff will easily get you going for another 50. If you’re like me, and like to search every nook and cranny, you’ll find yourself spending hours and hours grinding, doing side quests, filling the bestiary, searching for rare items, recipes, forging items and equipment or taking part in various in-game activities. The game is well worth the money since you are actually buying something which is gonna last for weeks or even months and not just some 20-hour quickie.

    Closing thoughts: I believe this game deserves nothing less than a 10/10. IMHO, it’s hard enough to find that much solid jRPGs on PS4, sadly. It doesn’t boast the sheer variery of role-playing masterpieces that PS2 did, but it does have its few precious gems, and Dragon Quest XI is definitely one of them. If you are a fan of this genre, you just can’t miss it. If you’re new to the jRPG world, this is a nearly damn perfect game to start with. The light-hearted yet exciting storyline, along with wonderful visuals and music are sure to keep your eyes and ears glued to the screen. The gameplay is pure old-school classic stuff. If there’s a place for a little fairy-tale in our lives, then let DQ XI make you feel like a little kid, so sit back and enjoy the immense adventure that this game enthralls you in. Good luck!

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