Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation
While some RPGs blow their budgets trying to craft a complex world with reams of backstory, the Dragon Quest games have always painted in much broader strokes, dealing unashamedly in the style of fetch quests that have become stereotypes in the genre. Realms of Revelation may be the single most ambitious game ever to be stuck within this tried-and-true formula.
Dragon Quest VI doesn’t try anything I haven’t seen before. Whether you’re helping a prince through a ritual to become king or rescuing a mountaintop town from a curse that has frozen all of the villagers, virtually every scenario has been done in other games, whether they came before or after this title’s original Super Famicom release.
What sets it apart, though, is the manic pace at which these rote storylines are started and completed. You’ll rarely spend more than an hour in one town or dungeon before you’ve helped the locals and moved onto your next objective. In fact, you’ll often spend more time aimlessly wandering the world map to figure out where you’re supposed to go next. The game’s energy -- during plot sequences at least -- kept me eagerly pushing forward, too breathless from the barrage of new places and events to worry much about their familiarity.
Just because things move quickly doesn’t mean Realms of Revelation is a remotely short game. From an early point, players can explore two massive world maps, and numerous plot twists expand those land masses even further. Discovering every secret in this strange world is addicting, especially as you start procuring bizarre methods of transportation such as a mobile island and a magical flying bed.
Gamers who played last year’s Dragon Quest IX will notice the absence of certain upgrades in this entry. Armor and weapons don’t appear on your character when equipped, and frustratingly frequent random encounters are back. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying DQ VI more than its technically superior descendant. Maybe it’s easier to forgive dusty design choices knowing that this was originally a 16-bit game, or maybe it’s because DQ VI embraces the mile-a-minute imagination and sense of adventure that made me fall in love with RPGs as a kid.
Realms of Revelation may be the single most ambitious game ever to be stuck within the tried-and-true JRPG formula.