Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age | Review | Switch

by Michael Brandse

A fantastic JRPG that should be in everyone's game collection.

Despite how long this franchise has been around and how much I love Japanese RPGs, until Dragon Quest XI I had never actually played a single Dragon Quest game. When the game came out for the PS4 I decided to give it a try and liked it a lot. Enough so that I ended up getting the Definitive Edition for the Switch as well. 

As you would expect, game-play wise Dragon Quest XI S is a very traditional turn based Japanese RPG that expects you to try out various attacks and note down which one works and which one don't. While this is what the game expects you to do, I never really found a need for this, as the game is not very hard; hitting enemies with my favorite skills was generally enough to emerge victorious. I personally didn't mind this a whole lot, but I reckon that veteran Dragon Quest players may want something more. Dragon Quest XI S also has other typical RPG elements, such as quests and a simplified crafting system, but nothing you have never seen before. Despite its classical approach, the game is a ton of fun to play. The characters and enemies are colorful and weapons have their own unique properties other than just being tools assigned to a particular character. Not to mention that the game's uncomplicated nature means that anyone should be able to get into it relatively easy.

Graphic-wise Dragon Quest XI S looks great. This game is a port from the Playstation 4 game so I expected some major concessions to make the game run on a Switch, but all in all I found the differences not very dramatic. There are some frame rate drops here and there, draw distance is not as impressive, among some other smallish things, but other than the game is remarkably close to its source material and even improves on it in some ways. It also has a 2D mode, like the 3DS version of the game, which has some very colorful sprite work. 

Without giving away too much about the story, I can say that the story really surprised me. I always believed that Dragon Quest games didn't really have that deep of a story, and while the early half of Dragon Quest XI S seemed to confirm that suspicion, the second half of the game does away with all of that. I don't want to spoil anything other than that I think the story of this game is remarkably well thought out. The characters are also a ton of fun. They all have distinct personalities and by the end of the game, each and every single one will have grown on you. 

I was not very impressed by the soundtrack though. Part of the reason is that the style of the soundtrack doesn't really do it for me, but another part is how there is so little of it. Most of the towns share the same theme, whether they be bustling kingdoms or small villages in the boonies. Dungeons are basically all the same and the overworld theme is one you will hear almost always. It's nice that town and dungeon theme do have a variation for day and night, but other than that variation is definitely not the strong point of this soundtrack. Certain sounds also feel a bit grating in how they try to capture the old chiptune feel of old Dragon Quest games but feel heavily out of place in a soundtrack that is largely orchestral. I reckon however this is also because I really have no nostalgic memories of old Dragon Quest games, so maybe that is simply not meant for me.

Compared to the Playstation 4 game, this game has every right to call itself the definitive edition. The game has some a number of quality of life improvements and extra content in terms of story, to fill in some gaps that the Playstation 4 version had. I personally thought these were nice additions, though the extra content could be hit or miss for those who experienced the game already. Finally, like I mentioned before, the Switch version allows you to switch between 2D and 3D mode. Finally the game has a very meaty extra set of side quests that pay homage to older Dragon Quest games, not to mention a very expansive post game, the likes you would ordinarily see as DLC these days.

In conclusion, Dragon Quest XI S is a very fine game to add to your Switch collection, even if you have already played it on a different platform. It's a simple kind of fun and instead of trying new grounds, it simply builds upon the old and perfects it. Most of all, I think the game is great for introducing Dragon Quest to new players. I know I am now a fan, and will see if I can give the older ones a shot as well. I can highly recommend this game to anyone.

Final Score: 9.0

More gameplay video from the first part of the game:

Hour 1 | Hour 2 | Hour 3 | Hour 4 | Hour 5 | Hour 6

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