This game was a game of the year contender for the first 60 hours and it just… fell apart. Here’s my review of Dragon Quest 11!
I love Dragon Quest. I prefer it to Final Fantasy and I’ve always had a soft spot for the series. Dragon Quest 11 started off as one of the best Dragon Quest games of all time and it completely fell apart around the 60 hour mark. Here’s my review of Dragon Quest 11.
The CGI cutscenes in this game are absolutely breathtaking. There’s not many of them, but when they do pop up I’m always blown away by how beautiful they are. The Luminary is one badass dude, but he’s also an idiot and I’ll get into that later on in this review.
The combat in this game is great. It’s your classic Dragon Quest gameplay and I love the fact that we’re not teleported to a battlefield that looks nothing like the one we were walking around in. The fights happen almost instantly and the battlefields are beautiful. The enemies are animated beautifully and so is the cast of characters in battle. Outside of battle is a different story. This game feels really dated. Yes, I can jump now, but there’s honestly no point in it. There are very few objects that I could actually jump over and the jumping itself is incredibly stiff. The camera is another issue that regularly popped up in this game. I expect a bad camera in the DS and 3DS games NOT in a PS4 game. The camera is really stiff and I had to regularly stop running and turn the camera because it couldn’t follow along with my character easily. The only good thing about the gameplay is the combat. Everything else is… mediocre at best. There are different ways to get around now. You can ride on a horse, but honestly you’ll be better off walking everywhere because you can only summon your horse at specific locations on the map. The maps aren’t very large and I never felt like I needed a horse to get around and that dumb thing controls horribly anyway.
I mentioned that this game has turn based combat. If you’ve never played a Dragon Quest game you’re in for a treat here. When you enter battle you’ll have a chance to perform a single action with each one of your party members. This isn’t an incredibly deep game. If you’re looking for something with depth you’ll probably leave this game incredibly disappointed. It’s simple and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are two modes you can play in. There’s a free camera mode of sorts that allows you to move around during battle, but it’s completely pointless. Moving around doesn’t help you dodge attacks or give you any sort of tactical advantage in battle. I played in the traditional mode once I realized this and never went back. Dragon Quest 11 is old school for better and worse in this case.
Dragon Quest 11 doesn’t have the depth of its predecessors. Dragon Quest IX was an incredible game, and last game that in the numbered series that released here before the remakes of VII and VIII, and this game took several steps backwards in comparison to all of those games. Yes, this game has the fun pep system that allows for some neat looking, and hard hitting, multi-person combos that can potentially one shot bosses, but it pales in comparison to Dragon Quest IX’s excellent job system.
Story: (Slight Spoilers)
There was a time when this would have been in the great section, but it just completely fell apart after act 2. The “end game” here is actually act 3. When you see the end credits roll that’s not the true ending because act 3 hasn’t started yet. You still have a ways to go until you actually beat the final boss and save the world… again. The problem with that is it completely invalidates act 2. That means all of the character growth, loss, and hardships your companions had to go through was completely meaningless because of this one decision that you have no choice but to make if you want to progress in the game. It’s fucking stupid and it completely took me out of the game. I didn’t care about anything in act 3 and that’s a shame because the rest of the game is so well done. Act 3 is basically them trying to cover every plot hole because there was some weird crap happening in act 2 with no explanation. The only reason why this isn’t in the bad section is because I enjoyed the majority of the story before it went to crap in the end.
This game can be beautiful at times. Especially during the cinematic cutscenes. There are some really ugly areas though. The character models look good in a last generation way. There are much better looking games that have released this year and Dragon Quest 11 is only okay and there’s nothing wrong with that. This game also slows up a bit when I cast certain spells or get hit by multiple aoe attacks by enemies. It also has a day/night cycle. I prefer traveling around at nights because it makes the overworld music tolerable, but the majority of my time was spent roaming around during the day.
The companions here are good. My favorites are Rab, Sylvando, Veronica, and Serena. I think Serena has the most character growth while Sylvando and Rab had the funniest moments. I enjoyed the banter between everyone and how they all grew as the story progresses… well at least until act 3 anyway. This isn’t the best bunch of characters that’s every gotten together in a JRPG, but I still really enjoyed getting to know everyone during my 80 hour playthrough.
Where do I start with the soundtrack here. It’s absolutely terrible and adds nothing to the game. I wish they would have gone in a different direction with the soundtrack this time around. I’m tired of the orchestras that they’ve been doing in every game. Give us an epic soundtrack with Dragon Quest like you did with Final Fantasy 15. I know different developers worked on this game, but they could have borrowed the sound guys at least. The soundtrack ranges from average to fucking terrible. The song playing in the background rarely matches what’s going on in the game and really took me out of it. I actually muted the music and just played random songs while I was out exploring and I did that for like 10 hours before I decided to turn it back on. The voice acting ranges from good to average at best. I enjoyed the majority of it and I think the companions all have nice voices.
There are side quest in this game and they’re horrible. At first I was excited because it was a new Dragon Quest game and I wanted to do everything. After my 8th or 9th quest I started skipping them. I only bothered to complete the ones that gave me something useful as a reward.
I went through the first 2 acts with no problem. Act 3 upped the difficulty by an incredible amount. Normal enemies could attack me 3, some times 4, straight times before I could go a single time. It was aggravating and not fair because most of the fight would be me using healing spells instead of beating the little shit that was in front of me. The spike in difficulty is there to hide the fact that this is a pretty short game. Stopping to grind monsters does take some time and that helps add padding to a small game.
It Breaks It’s Own Rules:
This is a turned based game right? So why do enemies get to go 3 straight times before I can act a single time. Bosses do it and so do regular ole enemies that I encountered. It happens a lot in act 3 and it’s honestly aggravating. It’s like everyone started the fight with an acceleration spell that never runs out. You can make your game harder without doing that. It’s just an unfair advantage for the player to overcome.
If there was ever a Dragon Quest game that needed a voiced protagonist it’s this one. It would have made the story feel more important and have more weight. This dude is a complete idiot in act 3. He knows what’s about to happen and instead of opening his damn mouth and saying something he stays quiet. Having him talk and explain the situation himself instead of inserting another character in that role would have been great, but that didn’t happen. I actually really like the Luminary too. I just hate how the story ended and his lack of communication drove me crazy when it was needed the most.
Dragon Quest 11 is a good game despite all of the issues that I have with it. It's not the best game in the series and doesn't have as much depth as the previous games do. The weak final act really soured me on the game and this is a dated game by today's standards. I think it's time for Dragon Quest to evolve as a series if they plan on making more of them. That being said there is a lot to like here, but I would recommend waiting for a price drop before committing to this one.