Overdue Review: Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition

Credit: Dragon Quest 11. Screenshot by me. Intro cinematic showing the party and Yggdrasil, the World Tree.

The Japanese role playing game is a fairly new concept to me. It isn’t a genre I have ever given much attention to until playing Octopath Traveler, now one of my favorite games. Dragon Quest 11 was an excellent next step. With a vibrant world, fun characters, cool enemy design and more to bring to the table, I can see why this game generally rates highly. The Definitive Edition brings heaps more onto an already strong deck. Released by Square Enix initially in 2017, the Definitive Edition, which I strongly recommend, rolled out 2019-2020.

Dragon Quest 11 follows the adventures of the protagonist hero, the heralded “Luminary” of legend. Meant to extinguish a supreme, malicious force of darkness, the Luminary’s path isn’t laid out like you might think. In the beginning the whole world seems against them. As you slowly build your strength and renown, more people come to the light. Including your merry band of fighters. At times the quest seems insurmountable, but with a lot of grinding and a little good luck, they might save the day.

The mechanics of DQ11 are classic turn-based RPG. Nothing too spicy here, but they do wonderful things with the recipe they use. There is the option to move about the combat space, but this does nothing other than keep you more engaged should you feel the need. I personally went with a classic line-up for most of the game. I want to focus on the best play, above all else. You’ll grind for experience and loot, something I actually enjoyed in this game. The music, while good, can be a little repetitive, so I found many of my sessions played with an album in the background.

Credit: Dragon Quest 11. Screenshot by me. Glimpse of battle mode. Wherever your encounter happens in the game world is where the battle takes place, which is neat.

I played over 60 hours just on the main story. In the Definitive Edition, there is additional in-game content such as story missions, classic Dragon Quest levels, and even the ability to play the entire game in classic 2D style. There is also extra endgame content, including new chapters that I will get to soon. In my time the story certainly had its moments, some bits that really surprised or connected with me, but overall not super impressive. Somewhat generic light versus dark, good versus evil. There is a refreshing fantastical, whimsical element to the tale that made it a nice escape.

The story does a solid job keeping the game going, which is ultimately what I wanted. The turn based battle system is so smooth, with tons of room to experiment and customize. Each character has a unique background and skill tree. I found myself eager to learn about them, and build them into the best soldier for my party. Healing proved to be a very powerful force on any team. There is no weird gimmick to the combat, and as a newcomer to the genre I appreciate that, as I think would many players. This is a very approachable RPG.

I do not remember ever needing a guide for this game. The one time I looked was to make sure I was a high enough level for the end boss, which according to sources I was more than enough. I still had a phenomenal time with the ending. Intense fight, got a little bit of good luck along the way, but that doesn’t diminish the fact I fought expertly. The satisfaction of taking down a tough boss in this game can really move you when you’ve been leveling forever to beat them. I greatly appreciate a game that doesn’t take a lot of outside knowledge to enjoy. I don’t terribly mind using guides occasionally, but the best is not needing one.

The visual style feels familiar, ultra cute and is quite appealing. In part to the distinct artistic styling of Dragon Ball’s Akira Toriyama. A mash-up of cultural influences make up the fantasy world Erdrea. From Arab style architecture, to Japanese archways, or clearly distinct European atmosphere. At the core of the story is a Norse myth, Yggdrasil, the world tree. The reverence for this tree helps unite a world with a lot of different people in it. The soundtrack is very well done, if lacking a bit of variety. I’m not saying the soundtrack is bad, just sparse.

Credit: Dragon Quest 11. Screenshot by me. Using the in game photo mode is cool, if lacking features.

I haven’t felt a lot of resonance within Dragon Quest 11, more anything just enjoying the fun times, and letting it remind me to see the world as a place of light. Sylvando reminds me it is worth fighting for smiles. Merely existing is not enough, and he will follow the Luminary to the end of all things to restore them to the world. Every character has parts that I like, for example the thief, Erik, is also incredibly noble. The old man, Rab, is so persistent. Quitting is not something he will ever consider. Not when he lost his kingdom, his kin or anything.

In the grand scheme of things, there are a few things that really impress me about Dragon Quest 11 S. First, how much more content there is in the Definitive Edition. Worth every penny. Second, how much I liked this game despite, even in thanks to, its simplicity. They pull off a lot with a rather simple formula. Third, it got me into a classic series I had no idea existed, until I saw this game on Twitch at launch. It intrigued me then, and I’m so glad I played it now.

Hope is an overarching theme in DQ11, and I have hope for the next installment, which is currently in development. No release date yet, as production is still early. I believe I will be playing the endgame content of DQ11S, and perhaps try some of the game in 2D. Both sound interesting. I have a few other JRPGs on deck to dive into, and I am looking forward to those as well. I recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the genre, or just looking to start out. I’m a newcomer and had a fantastic experience playing Dragon Quest 11 S.

Credit: Dragon Quest 11. Screenshots by me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s