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// article by Meow

I am an avid fan of the Dragon Quest series, stumbling upon it in the late 90s with the release of Dragon Warrior Monsters, a most excellent Monster Collector RPG. However, as much as I love the series, after the success of Dragon Quest VIII, I felt the translations have gone down a rabbit hole of insultingly awful puns, alliteration, and accents you can't freaking understand. And even though Dragon Quest VIII has a quiet excellent translation, it still has this dumb naming scheme for spells that honestly gets incredibly confusing. I mean, can you tell on name alone what Poof, Puff, and Piff all do? Not without playing first. I bet you didn't even know Piff wasn't actually a spell, but the other two are! There's even a spell called Ping. But every English translation since has had increasingly worse things and random references, such as renaming the enemy Hell Crab (or Hell Scissors) to Crabber-dabber-doo. Don't ask me why.

Complaints aside, my friends knew how much I hate these modern translations, and probably in an attempt to prevent me from *****ing about it more and/or having another great game soured for me, they gifted me with a copy of Dragon Quest XI, which I appreciated greatly. However, the game is in Japanese, but I've been studying the language for a while, purely inspired by getting around these bad translations, so I guess something good came from them, though indirect it is. I don't know what the story is like, and I haven't beaten the game yet, as I've been enjoying myself and taking my time, so this isn't a review as much as it is...

Being on the PS4, this game is incredibly gorgeous to look at. It's the first game in the Dragon Quest series since its creation to not have the artist Akira Toriyama as the lead artist, but the ones who took his place do a fairly good job at imitating his style, though it is a slight bit off from time to time. The game doesn't have any voice acting during cutscenes, which feels odd because it looks like it should have. The game interestingly starts you off with two weapons for your hero that you can use, a Sword and Shield (well, the Sword is the weapon, but you can use a shield as well because it's one-handed) or a Great Sword are your two choices, making what I think is the first instance in the series where that sort of "you need both hands to use this weapon" thing occurs. Another new thing to the series is that you can jump! That's right, platforming in MY Dragon Quest, what is this madness?! I haven't really come across any real tricky platforming yet, the hardest stuff only really being for optional treasures, and I've always been able to try again if I goof, and even then, the jumps aren't hard. Naturally, I bunny hop everywhere and parkour like mad.

Battles are bit different from previous games where you tell your team what to do at the start of a round; instead, it's more like Final Fantasy X's turn order where it's turn-based but the characters choose what to do when it's their respective turn. However, each character is limited to one action per battle round (though some enemies get double-actions as the more dangerous foes tend to in these games), so your slow characters won't be at risk of being steamrolled before getting the chance to act. During battles, you can also freely move around, and the battlefields are just the field you're in, there's no longer a special battle screen. The arenas do have a defined limit to how far you can get away from where you triggered the battle, prompting you if you want to run away if you reach the edge like Quest 64. Other than that, I don't think there's anything that moving around does for you other than the novel factor. Plus it gives you something to do while waiting for your next turn.

On the overworld, you encounter monsters by bumping into them to trigger battles like in Dragon Quest IX and the remakes of VII and VIII, but you can now do a first strike against foes, doing a small bit of damage before starting the battle. It's not crucial, but it feels good to do it. You also eventually get a crossbow that you can shoot monsters with from a distance, but that doesn't hurt them, it only ticks them off and makes them charge at you. I personally don't care much for it, but that's just me.

The game does have DLC but not in the usual sense: it's all promotional stuff. The DLC I have is because I got the game new, so there was a voucher for a couple pieces of armor, one-ups exp gain by 10% and the other ups gold gain by 10%. They're meant to make the early game easier since they're not very defensive, but by gum, I'll keep them on the whole way. And yes, I'm over-leveled. And I love it. The only other DLC I could probably get are the three free skill seeds that you get with a voucher from a strategy guide of the game, but all other promo DLC stuff was given away a long time ago. They're all just small stuff that isn't "pay to win", which I appreciate greatly.

Speaking of armor, the game has a new mechanic to it, being a bit of a twist on the alchemy stuff seen in Dragon Quest VIII until now; you have a magical forge that you can craft armor and accessories inside, as well as reforging stuff you already have. Nearly every bit of gear has some stages to it like Dungeons and Dragons (which is something Dragon Quest is heavily inspired by, don't let the stupid modern translations fool you in this regard), where you have, say, a normal iron shield, it can be upgraded to Iron Shield +1, +2, or +3 at most. You can examine the weapon stats to see just how good something can get like this, as some things upgrade more significantly than others. Both forging new stuff and reforging takes you to a little minigame where you have to hammer out bits of the molten...well, sometimes it's metal, sometimes it's feathers and thread. Either case, the minigame is simple to understand, and you have some special skills you can learn in forging from time to time that do things such as striking multiple zones at once, or doing only half-power strikes. The goal of the minigame is to get these bars filled representing how much hammering has been done to it, but not to overshoot the highlighted area on the bars because doing so will ruin that part of the item. Thankfully, nothing can drop in quality, even when reforging something, so feel free to keep trying as long as you have the orbs for it (as there are special orbs you get from forging fresh items that are required for reforging old items).

The game also has a mechanic where you can ride mounts, such as your own horse, as well as select monsters you can find roaming around. Each monster has a special skill that's usually used in finding hidden treasures or solving puzzles in dungeons, but I won't spoil what all you can do with them. There's even a race track you can eventually go to for an additional minigame where you can win prizes at. I found it to be really fun once I got the controls down, but it's weird to be power sliding with a pony.

I've been finding the game really fun, and I'll probably like it a lot more in a few years when I'm actually competent enough to read the game in whole, but for now, I'll just have to settle with being able to read names of skills and characters. I'd like to say this game is coming out worldwide, but it technically isn't. "But it IS coming out worldwide, it says so on Steam!" some may cry out, but you see... the version for the west...is actually a remake! Yes, that's right, it's a remake. Why? I forget, something about the western version being more of a remaster than an update and needing to use a whole new engine. But the western remake at least gets voice acting, so it has something going for it, even if for some reason they renamed the black knight Greg to "Hendrick" for reasons unknown to me. I'll leave you with one final note, though: If they call the little girl party member, the one with a red hat, anything other than "Veronica", then they're trying too hard. Also, say hi to Crabber-Dabber-Doo for me.


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