Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age" Review

"Dragon Quest" is one of the most revered names in RPG gaming, and also one of the most sporadic. The dev team at Square Enix had the type of crushing expectations to live up to that tend to be thrust on its protagonists.

Leave it to the heroes to come through when it counts, delivering a thunderously action-packed and emotional addition to the storied franchise.

The first numbered series release since the 2012 MMO, and the first single-player mainline experience since 2009's DS title, "Dragon Quest 9," the new addition to the series somewhat benefits from the distance from its predecessors, which sit so far back in memory and technology that the onus was on the current team to reinvent what a "Dragon Quest" RPG can be from basically scratch.

While trademarks such as the high fantasy setting, slime enemies and iconic retro sound effects remain in place, "Dragon Quest XI" obliterates what came before in terms of storytelling depth, graphical fidelity and combat flexibility.

Eschewing the turn-based battle RPG trope "Dragon Quest" pioneered back when it was known stateside as "Dragon Warrior," the new setup is a vivacious and tense game of cat and mouse that allows you to score bonus points by striking first, dodge enemy attacks in the field of play, set and adjust your party's tendencies and orchestrate magic and force attacks with healing and item use. The result is a fluid and dynamic skirmish setup that means no two battles will ever play out exactly the same way.

The writing team delivers similarly creative inspiration, spinning a miniseries-worthy tale of a child predestined as a savior since childhood. The burden placed on him plays into the emotional depth and lingering sense of fatalism, shading the bonds he forges with allies, as well as the grudges with adversaries.

Captivating from the opening moments, the saga sends you headlong on an unpredictable, violently twisting quest that takes cues from the likes of "Ni No Kuni" and "Persona."

A robust and beautiful journey, "Dragon Quest XI" is a bold critical strike of an RPG that will please lifelong fans, as well as do its part to usher in a new generation of "Dragon Quest" fanatics who will join the throngs of elders who long for the next entry.
Publisher provided review code.

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