I have always been a massive fan of turn based RPG titles, even since I was a young lad watching my old man play them. There was always something about a deep story, well-built characters and long nights trying to reach the next break in whatever twist was awaiting the main character. It has been a while since I sunk my teeth into such a title, so a remake of the fifteen-year-old Dragon Quest VII seemed like a good idea and I could play it while on the go on the 3DS. This version of the game is one hell of a remake, bringing an old classic right up to par with a lot of recent JRPG’s.
Now I have to admit the Dragon Quest series is not one that I have followed religiously, more dropped in and out of over the years (This could me a nice slap to the face). For those who are followers of the series, you will be happy to know that the game still brings a lot of what you expect, familiar monsters, character classes, turned based combat and not forgetting one hell of a long story. I am talking well over 100 hours here people, so best to make sure you have some serious free time or a lot of travelling to do. If you want a quick understanding of the time frame of this game, it took a good couple of hours to even encounter a battle and around twelve hours to start getting involved in the Classes. This made starting the game a bit hard for me but pushing through and getting involved in the main story makes it all worth while. So persevere and don’t give in.
You play a young lad by the name of Auster (You can change this if you fancy) who lives on a small island, actually the only island that seems to exist in this world. Early on you are joined by Price Keifer, a close friend of Auster and heir to the throne. A troublesome lad who likes to spend his time causing mischief and not forgetting Maribel, the childhood friend, daughter of the mayor and someone who seems to give you nothing but grief through the start of the game. The story sets you off joining forces with Kiefer and forcefully joined by Maribel as you try and look into the secrets of the island only to discover a temple that ends with you being transported to another land. Soon you learn that the land that you have arrived at is not only different from your home but also from the past. Now begins the adventure to find your way home and uncover just what happened.
Visually the game has a very cute and cartoony feel to it. When you look at the original Playstation version you have to admit that is has been beautifully overhauled and is very pleasing to the eye. It’s a serious change from the usual remaster of a game where everything gets improved to look more realistic but they have kept the feel of the original and just defined it giving it a new graphical life. Personally, I prefer my games to be a bit more gritty in the graphics especially with the characters. However, Dragon Quest has always followed a certain look and it seems to work well for the series. Nothing brings life to a game like a well-composed soundtrack and the nail has been truly hit on the head here, crisp clear and fits in perfectly with the gameplay.
When playing a seriously long RPG I have been known to step away and get stuck into other games then coming back to a huge world map, standing in the middle of a field with no idea what I was doing last time I played. Luckily with Dragon Quest VII there is a lot of help at hand. You can easily check in the menu for “The Story So Far”, talk to party members for a hint of what you are currently doing or speak with anyone around you. Not only that but the game is cleverly cut down into mini style quests that all fit into the main story which helps a lot when you are like me and easily distracted by shiny new titles. This is not done in a way that loses the flow of the main game though which allows you to jump into the game for a couple of hours and progress without losing your way.
Everything that you would want from gameplay in a JRPG is right here in this tasty title. A classic turn-based combat system that we all know well enough by now. Lots of exploration and interaction with more NPC’s than you could shake a stick at. A job system that brings an even deeper character progression (eventually) which will keep you going through the game and allow you to set up characters with that more personalised feel. Monsters are viewable on the map rather than just random encounters giving you the chance to grind when needed or just leg it if you are not feeling a battle at that moment. You would think that after all these years this sort of standard JRPG style would loose its touch but it seems to be a setup that players will always love and enjoy.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is a beautiful remaster of a game that shamefully came at the end of the PS1 era and might have been missed by many. Luckily for you all it has been brought back and delivered beautifully. I have really enjoyed getting my teeth back into a game like this and it always helps that it is portable and can be taken with me on the move, this has made many a train journey more bearable. Even though it takes it time to build and reveal the story it is worth the wait. There’s a very solid narrative, full of emotion and well-written characters, even if they are done in a very cartoony style fashion which has to be my only complaint. This is one for the series fans and those who just fancy a new turn-based RPG to get their teeth into. Take some holiday time and get your teeth sunk into this epic adventure, you really won’t be sorry.