Released 15 years ago in 2001, Dragon Quest VII was an RPG that was ahead of its time. Heck, I never played it until this review, and I can see how vast the game is! Dragon Quest VII follows the quest of Auster and co., as they explore the mysteries of the past and uncover new lands in the present.
Is Dragon Quest VII another fantastic RPG for the 3DS, or will it become a forgotten relic? Find out in our review, after the break!
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by Heartbeat, ArtePiazza
Published by Square Enix, Nintendo
Released: 16th September 2016 (NA/Europe)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Screenshots/Art Courtesy of Nintendo
Dragon Quest VII was originally released for the PS1 way back in 2001, and it has been fully remastered, from the ground up, exclusively for Nintendo 3DS. The game comes with new artwork, new 3D character models, the ability to see the story so far, and even brand new localisation. As I have not been able to play the original, I will mainly be writing as if this is a brand new game, keeping in mind that it was originally released in 2001.
Dragon Quest VII (DQ7) follows the adventure of Auster (who you play as) and Prince Kiefer. Almost the entire population of Estard believe that the island they live on is the only island in the world, Auster and Kiefer believe otherwise, and plan on discovering the truth. As you investigate some old relics, and once Maribel insists to join your party, you come across a mysterious shrine, guarded by a fairy, who refers to you as the chosen ones. Once you unlock the door behind him, you gain access to the Assembly room, which acts as a gateway to many different worlds.
You soon find out that there were once many islands throughout the world, but and evil demon caused chaos in each realm to cause all the islands to disappear over time. It is up to you and your party to travel to the past, and aid the inhabitants of each island to stop them from disappearing.
The way the plot plays out is similar to an episodic format, in which every island you go to acts like a new episode with it’s own story of conflict, with an underlying story arc that connects all the stories together. In a way, I find this adds far more depth into the narrative as you have so many different storylines to discover. What I love about each story, is how captivating they all are. Almost each one will really made you feel for each character, some even made me a little tearful. Want an example? Click here for an example, if you don’t mind a few spoilers from an early part of the game.
The combat is essentially like most other turn based combat in RPGs. When you encounter some enemies, each character and enemy takes a turn to take action. Defeating enemies will earn you an your party Exp. and Gold Coins. When you raise a level, your attributes, such as strength and defence, will increase. These will affect various actions in battle, such as how much damage you will give. Unlike the original game, you can actually see almost all the monsters that are out to get you on the world screen, so no more random encounters. I personally prefer it when enemies aren’t really dropped on you randomly, as it allows you to explore the world a bit more. There have even been times where I have been strategical when navigating dungeons. Due to the narrow corridors, it can be quite easy to bump into a monster, and if you wish to save up on health and items until the boss, you may want to run by them when they are not looking.
Dragon Quest VII also incorporates a class system, however this isn’t something that is unlocked straight away. Around just under halfway through the game, you will gain access to Alltrades Abbey. At Alltrades, you are able to choose and trade the vocation of each party member at any time, there are more than 30 vocations to choose from, so the range of what you can do in battle is vast. Being a Warrior means that you focus your energy on strong attacks, whereas Priests are more efficient at healing your fellow party members. My only issue with the gameplay, is the fact that the UI feels fairly messy and not very streamlined, especially when swapping items between party members.
Levelling up these vocations can also reward you with special abilities specific to that vocation, and if you master multiple vocations, you can unlock even more. For example, put together the Warrior and Martial Artist vocations will grant you the Gladiator vocation. Being a gladiator increases your chance of performing critical hits vastly. Once you reach a certain level of a vocation, you will then unlock Master Vocations, such as the Hero Vocation, which recovers some of your HP after every turn, and teaches you the most powerful spells and abilities. These are sure to overturn a difficult battle.
Your quest is a long one… and I mean long. When I was around the halfway point, I was already clocked at 20 hours, and I wasn’t even exploring in participating in side quests all that much. There is plenty to do on the side lines too. Unlocking the Monster Meadow allows you to send friendly monsters to a safe haven. You can then send monster out on expeditions to collect Traveler’s Tablets downloaded through StreetPass. Using Traveler’s Tablets provide access to bonus dungeons where you can reap some nifty rewards. Some friendly monsters are disguised as humans, and if you find them, through clues from other monsters or townsfolk, you can send them to The Haven, which aims to build a community of friendly monsters. As the community develops, new shops will open up with exclusive items, and some monsters may even give you a special Traveler’s Tablet. There are a few other side quests, such as the casino, where you can gamble for nifty prizes; and an old man which will trade Mini Medals you find hidden in peculiar places for special items.
There is an amazing amount of charm to every main character, every enemy, and even the dialogue. The game does a great job of creating the characters, and I just love the quirkiness of every single enemy. The dialogue is so well written, it’s difficult to explain other than there is a certain charm to it. What adds to the personalities of your fellow party members, is the fact that you can talk to them nearly at any point during your quest, and they will say something about the area you are in, or provide a response to something that has just happened. The new visuals fit the game’s charm perfectly, though Dragon Quest VII isn’t a visual masterpiece, it does a fantastic job of conveying the charm that I am constantly talking about in this paragraph. The only problem I have encountered, is the fact that there have been a few times (more often in battle scenes) where the frame rate has dipped noticeably, luckily it doesn’t cause too much of a negative effect on gameplay, though it may become slightly annoying for the more technical players.
Dragon Quest VII is yet another RPG for the Nintendo 3DS which I just cannot put down. As soon as I finish one part of the story, I just have to play a bit longer… until I realise it’s 6 in the morning and I haven’t go any sleep. With so much to do in the main story (and even more in the side-quests), how engaging the plot is, and the charm of the game, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, is a must have for Nintendo 3DS, and we’d highly recommend it!