Review: ‘Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition’
Going into this game, I was unsure of what to expect; though there were certain key points that brace me for the experience. A series known for being of the most influential for JRPGS franchise in the genre’s history, Dragon Quest, is also famous for its anime aesthetic donned upon it the legendary anime creator Akira Toriyama himself. So when I heard that there was going to be Switch port, I started the game as soon as the download was complete and now yours truly has arrived with a review on the 11th installment to a series that acts as one of the pillars of JRPG genre and the global phenomenon that is known as Pokémon.
After playing Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition from beginning to end, I ended up with a mixed feeling towards it. As someone that is big on Pokémon, the traditional turn-based fighting system of this entry was right up my ally. The options on how to approach challenging enemies or bosses increased with every party member that you acquired along the way. Wondering if you should save your magic points in order to heal your allies now or take a gamble and doing so later, with the task of figuring out what fighting style and equipment each party member is better with made that part of the experience even better. Another aspect I want to give Dragon Quest XI props for is the voice cast, even though the dialogue leaves something to be desired. While I have some issues with some of the design choices (more on that later), the world that you roam around is quite beautiful and charming. There is also the option of exploring the world in a traditional 2D style which has a charming esthetic in and of its own.
However, with all that said, there are some elephants in the room that need to be addressed. While the world might look charming and beautiful, the designs of some of the monsters and, more importantly, some of the humans (including party members) that you interact with are some of the most unimaginative that I have seen in my life. There’s a running gag among the anime/manga community that believes that Akira Toriyama’s imagination reached its peak with Dragon Ball Z, but I never thought it was this bad. Not only did a lot of them look like rehashed versions of characters from his most famous work, but I often found myself meeting characters (that were not meant to be random NPCs) that looked identical. The situation gets even worse when talking about the monsters that you encounter and fight throughout your playthrough. The music doesn’t this game one bit either. It is, by far, one of the worst orchestral soundtracks that I have heard in a long time. It was so bad that I found myself muting the game when there was no dialogue (and this comes from someone that loves orchestral music.)
Then there is the story, which I could not take seriously even if I tried. It is filled with so much cliché and cheese that you could start a cheese factory with it. Every time a serious moment presented itself, be it for character development and/or story twist; I mostly sat there facepalming myself or laughing hysterically as opposed to being moved by the moment. It didn’t help the game one bit the fact that the main cast of characters feel were written like outdated clichés from the 80’s. One of the weirdest choices they made was to have the Luminary (which is your self-inserted character) mute in present-day, but when you see him in a flashback he suddenly has a voice. And for those that are wondering, no, we are never told how he lost his voice.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is the perfect game if you longed for a Legend of Zelda-like adventure with the same tone as the 1989 animated series (more on that series in the future) with a traditional turned-based fighting system and a large world to explore. While I have some issues with the game; I can’t say that I regret playing it. Even I can enjoy some cheese from time to time even if it’s the worst of cheese at times. However, I can’t see myself replaying it anytime soon. One playthrough of this entry clocks in at around 80+ hours and works great in both handheld and console mode.