The lights are on
So, I was looking at my list of reviews and, to my horror, I noticed that I haven’t gotten around to the Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation review yet. I finished that game months ago. It was my original intent to write the review for the DS trilogy in quick succession, right after beating each game. Partially, my reason for this is that I soon plan to play the VII and VIII games. Obviously though, I forgot all about DQVI. I guess that reaching the game’s, and therefore the DS’ trilogy’s, end must have overwhelmed me so much that I forgot all about the review. Then I moved on to something else. However, it is not hard to recall such an experience (and I played a few hours of it to freshen my memories). Just as the other games in the series, DQVI is able to completely immerse the player in a vast, colorful world and tell a highly enticing, even if somewhat ridiculous, tale of epic proportions.
At its core, Dragon Quest is an RPG whose appeal has always been immersion in the presented world. To this end, the world’s are always large, varied in design, full of secrets, and, above all, a joy to explore. The way that DQ gets the player engrossed in the story is quite clever. Progressing through the story requires talking to NPC’s. This forces the player to get acquainted with the world and the characters. And as a necessary element for RPG’s there are story dungeons and bosses to defeat. The combat to do this is, on the other hand, as basic as can be. Generally, it is merely there as a way to cut down and grind through the randomly appearing enemies. That is not to say that it is not gratifying to down a particularly tough enemy. In fact, it can get surprisingly nerve wracking and exhilarating. Turn based games have been around for a long time. I suppose that developers know exactly how to implement excitement in this genre by now. For me, the combat was especially compelling because the enormous variety of enemies help cement the game’s universe.
Even though the game manages to pull in the player, the tale that the player receives once there is the most unfocused of the trilogy. In a way, this is praise. The concept itself I found to be quite interesting. After the game’s opening, you wake up in a house, but due to the past cutscene it is clearly not the place you belong. The main character’s actual origins are an item of interest that is uncovered throughout the story. As suggested by the game’s title, the player soon learns that there are multiple realms. The hero is trapped in what the game calls the dream realm. You can switch realms only through specific points in the maps. This causes the player to explore both maps thoroughly. For example, in order to reach the other side of a mountain range in one realm, the player must find a way through the other realm. Also, there are some locations which have been destroyed or somehow removed from the real world, that may be found in the dream realm. I found this dynamic entertaining. The switching between realms was an inventive way to introduce a town’s or a specific NPC’s backstory. DQVI’s locales and their NPC’s are the best developed in the trilogy. Many towns or castles have a goal for the player to compete and advance the story. Unfortunately, this is what keeps the narrative from being focused. Each area has its own story, which often is completely unconnected to the rest of the main plot. The hero goes into a locale, and, in order to obtain something he needs, he always ends up helping somebody specifically or the whole town. In one instance, I was helping a prince pass a trial that would prove his worthiness as royalty. On another town, I was uncovering a the mystery of a monster that only came out at night. While unfocused, I grew to care more about the world than in any other game of the trilogy. I didn’t care about the towns that I was trying to save in previous games. There were only a handful of NPC’s that I felt were important. Contrastingly, I felt a need to defeat evil for the sake of the people in Realms of Revelation.
Ironically, the hero’s companions, the characters in your party, are some of the weakest I’ve seen. While they do go through characterization, their personalities are generic. Terry, previously a lone wolf, is stoic and aloof throughout the whole story, Carver is well muscled and stereotypically dumb but courageous, and so forth with the rest of the characters. Their individual stories, and their origins, are interesting enough, but the characters themselves simply are not. This might be due to there being too few instances where the characters bond or demonstrate their personalities. The only character who I grew fond of was Amos, but he is an added extra so he shouldn’t count.
The world is quite large
Speaking of extras, there is a ton of content in the game, without taking the main story into account. Once far into the game, you can explore every nook and cranny of both worlds. You are able to sail through the seas, soar across the skies to quickly reach different areas, and even explore the depth of the sea with a magical boat. After the final boss, there is even a bonus dungeon. It tests both your skill and dedication to the game. Upon completion it even delivers an alternate ending. Moreover, there are secret companions for your journey, one of which is human, and most of which are monsters that you can find hidden in the the different realms. To lengthen your game further, you are able to assign any member of your party with numerous classes. This is probably also the most addictive aspect of the game, once unlocked. Classes consist of nine basic classes and two hidden ones. Once the class is assigned, the character can level up both him/herself and the class. Progressing a class is done by simply beating x number of enemy encounters. Moreover, any character can switch his profession whenever, and all progress is kept if ever you wish to switch back. When certain combinations of classes are taken to max levels, the hybrid classes are unlocked. There are seven of these and make characters even more powerful. As you can guess, trying to constantly promote every single character to a new class was incredibly time consuming, but also incredibly rewarding. Additionally, there are a few extra events that one can participate in. The casinos are back and are as addictive as ever. What these basically are is...a casino. You go there with the hope of winning a prize in return for an insurmountable amount of money spent. There also are slime battles and beauty pageants to take part of, which are exactly what they sound like. My favorite was the slime battles. It provided a reason to turn one of my slimes into a mean, lean, killing machine. He ended up being one of my most used characters.
A few other notable aspects of the game include that, despite the scope of the game, DQVI translates well to the handheld. Based off this remake’s predecessors, that is only to be expected. When in the open world, one can easily create a quick-save log. In a town, the player can record their progress in the town church. As a result, it is easy to put down the game at almost any given time. But I never felt like doing so. All the times I put down my DS to stop playing it was purely out of need. The whole adventure blends together seamlessly in a way that made me want to play continuously. There were only a few intentional respites in the story. Moreover, it is pretty clear when the player is entering areas where saving is restricted. It still is pretty tempting to enter those areas. I sometimes paid dearly due to my lack of self restraint. Music in the game is as old-school as expected, and it fits the game’s sprite-filled world.
On a parting note, I can only say that while this game is not my favorite of the trilogy, it shares the level of quality and content that the whole franchise displays. When you buy a Dragon Quest title, you always know what you’re getting. I’d say this is a strength of the series: the games are persistently successful at immersing the player. Seeing how the 3DS is a popular device, I’d recommend Realms of Revelation to anyone who is even mildly interested in RPG’s. I grew used to the combat quickly, and the game takes you through the story at a surprisingly fast pace too, even though you would likely spend over 40 hours just to reach the final boss. Heck, I recommend the whole series. Arte Piazza has done a magnificent job remaking the trilogy for the 3DS, and this sets my expectations high for the remake of VII, which I still ardently hope they will bring to the west.
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