The lights are on
After having spent
way over a hundred hours of game play in Dragon
Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies it is safe to say that it truly is
one, if not the best RPG the DS has to offer. It basically takes everything,
well mostly everything, that we love about the Dragon Quest series and makes it better. The game is enormous in
scale even compared to other games in the same franchise, and it includes a
multi-player component that works amazingly well. Somehow the developers have
managed to make this game into a deeper and more addictive experience than most
of the other DQ games.
Dragon Quest has never looked better on this system. As
opposed to the look of the remakes of the Zenithian trilogy (IV, V, and VI),
where the world has a vibrant 2D with some 3D environments and buildings,
everything in IX is in 3D, and they take advantage of all of the DS'
horsepower. Don't worry though, traditionalist fans, it still looks and feels like
a game of its series. Especially for its, once again, great and fitting
soundtrack. For those that have played DQ:
Journey of the Cursed King, you know what I mean.
In terms of story, DQIX was disappointing. Granted,
progression through the different areas is still exciting because of the new
enemies encountered, more opportunities for character progression, and the
different looks of said areas. Nonetheless, I never once cared what happened to
At the beginning of
the game your character is a Celestian, which is basically a Guardian Angel,
but besides your master you had no friends or anybody that is important to you.
Not only that, but you never find anybody that becomes your constant companion
afterwards, except for an energetic fairy, unlike all the other games in the
series. The reason for that is that they have added multiplayer (which I will
go into later). This game was evidently designed to have people to play with
you because if you do not then your partners are soulless characters that, very
much like your own character, never speak and have no backstory whatsoever.
Even with these
issues though, it is hard to dislike the game. Every new town has a creative
backstory to tell with creative characters and villains, so in the end I did
care if I saved the world or not. Also, about that multiplayer, it is amazingly
well thought out. Your friends and you can connect and go about your quest
together. For a game with a combat style such as Dragon Quest, which hasn't changed in this one either, I can see
why some people were sceptical about this, but the reason it works well is
because of all the support moves that every character class has, be it warrior
or priest. If you want to survive a particularly strong boss you will need to
work together to overcome it. The only complaint I have with the multiplayer is
that if you do a mission in your friend's game it does not move your story forward. You cannot use
alchemy (more on this later) while on other people's games either.
already said that this game is enormous in scale, and that its combat,
exploration, and progression have remained true to the series, or the same even,
but there are still plenty of welcome additions. First off, there are a large
number of classes, which you can change into anytime you want to. The progress
that you made with your last class would be kept if you ever wish to change
back, but you would have to start over from level one in your new class. There
are new classes to unlock and find, and trying them all out is pretty fun.
After you beat the
main story there are hundreds of side quests and secrets to find. Many are boring
and time consuming, but some like the hidden grottos have you fighting
incredibly challenging bosses. Speaking of time consuming, this game has a mechanic
borrowed directly from Monster Hunter. That's right you can combine items,
pieces of equipment, weapons, armour, and whatever else you find to create
better items, pieces of equipment, etc. Out of the hundreds of hours that I
played I have to say that half were probably spent looking for items for
specific recipes that would make me look like a powerful priest.
My major concern with this game is the grinding. Like in most games of the series you are forced to do this. Although this does not usually bother me it becomes too much at times, mostly when you start doing the side quests which require you to kill x amount of creatures or obtain x amount of materials that you can only get by stealing it from certain creatures.
Despite its shortcomings, any fan of Dragon
Quest or RPG's cannot miss out in
this game. Probably the best RPG in the DS; it has an incredible amount of
content, great music, great multiplayer component, gameplay, graphics, etc.
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