Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 12, 2020

Switch Review: Dragon Quest XI

I have put 70 hours into Dragon Quest XI. I killed the bad guy twice, and I stopped playing at the meteor scene which is the last part of the DLC that I’m aware of. I had absolutely no interest in continuing the game despite all the time I had sunk into it.

In all honesty, this game was a constant chore to play.

What DID work was the old school combat system and the old school RPG system. The process of going to a town, get objective, kill monsters, complete objective, with leveling up and improving armor and weapons IS fun.

The hexagon skill tree is really cool.

Dragon Quest IX is also extremely well polished… and by ‘polished’, I mean all the rough edges are so well smoothed over. Dragon Quest IX is NOT a new standard in JRPGs, but it IS a new standard in quality-of-life measures for a JRPG. The game does many things right such as giving so much control to the player in how they wish to play the game, what difficulty they want to play, and constantly make sure the player knows where to go next.

The story scripts are also well done. The cutscenes are fun to watch. This is good because Dragon Quest IX has a TON of them.

The characters are hit and miss depending on the player. Some people LOVE Sylvando. I DESPISED Sylvando and took him out of my party ASAP. Sylvanda is the token queer, the gay guy, whatever you want to call him. “How do you know he is gay, Malstrom?” How could he NOT be? At first, I thought he was being written as ‘flamboyant’ to an absurd degree to make the personality interesting and entertaining. Then when it came to Sylvando’s backstory with his ‘super masculine father’, I suddenly knew this was a typical gay plot. To top it off, you have the BOY BAND full of young, pretty boys that follow Sylvando around and do anything Sylvando wants. No girls. No older men. Just… young boys. This game has gone way beyond ‘puff puff’ jokes and entered hinting at pedophilia. “You exaggerate, Malstrom.” OK. What if Sylvando had young girls instead of young boys in his ‘smile’ parade?

“But what about Jade?” Yes, what about Jade? All the characters are boring tropes, wonderfully voice acted, well scripted, but still tropes. Erik is your ‘thief with a heart of gold’. BORING. Veronica is that young anime girl who ‘protests too much’ at anything and everything. BORING. Serena is the innocent white mage healer. BORING.  Rab is your ‘old man wizard’. BORING. Jade is your ‘karate/dancer character’. BORING. And I’m not going to even bother talking about Hendrik or your ‘silent protagonist’ main character.

I’m a fan of Jade simply because I’m male. She becomes very distracting especially during battles. Her special attacks are literally sexy moves. Her character, though, is uninteresting.

In fact, aside from Erik, EVERYONE IN THE PARTY is royalty or has some ‘magic spirit’. Give me a break.

Spoilers below this line….

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The game is SOOOOO BORING and so TROPISH that absolutely, positively, NO SURPRISE happens until the characters gather the Macguffin orbs and reach The World Tree. Oh, the Big Evil defeats you and destroys the World Tree. Hey! A surprise! Where will this go?

But even that turns into tropish nonsense. Final Fantasy 6 did the destruction of the world thing soooo much better. And I did not care for the characters’ post apocalypse stories. Sylvando starts his smile army (gay!). Jade becomes Booga’s love slave (I’d give the game credit if Jade became pregnant with Booga’s child or Jade’s personality became a rape victim. I don’t see why we have the puff puff and boy bands but game won’t put sexuality to go there). Erik losing his memory was cool and surprising.

Let me say the stories the game told I did like.

I liked the story of Erik’s sister turning everything to gold.

I liked the story of Octogonia where the champion was taking fighters to deliver to EVIL SPIDER MONSTER. Hahaha, it was so stupid it was good.

I liked Serena’s story of becoming stronger after Veronica’s death and getting offensive magic.

Unfortunately, the DLC or whatever UNDOES all the cool points of the game. Dragon Quest IX turns into Back to the Future Part II where your main protagonist time travels back to the past (with all the cool gear he has collected somehow) right to the time where the World Tree is destroyed. This time, the hero stops it and saves Veronica. No character has to die! Then, the Bad Guy is killed in the castle.

This UNDOES the cool stories that Serena or Erik had. Even when Erik loses his memory, the game magically has him remember everything just… because it was convenient. Whoever is writing the plots for this game isn’t that good and keeps hitting a reset button. I don’t mind that the game is tropish, but stop pretending you’re going to not be tropish if you are going to trope.

Imagine if Final Fantasy 6 had DLC where you could go back in time and kill Kefka before the world was destroyed. This would utterly DESTROY the game. Dragon Quest IX just can’t do it. This either points that its developers are weak minded or today’s gamers are or both.

Other negatives:

The 3d map (I played in 3d) was crappy experience. I would get lost in the 3d world, and I hated trans-versing it. The battles in 3d was MUCH fun and I enjoyed the 3d battle system instead of 2d battle system (the 3d battle system acts exactly the same as the 2d battle system. It is fun seeing the characters move around in 3d. Hot Jade will do her flipkicks and will weave back and forth between her turns.)

-I hated everything of Tick Tock Kingdom and its stupid dungeons and people.

-The music got on my nerves. I don’t care if it is orchestra, the music was really monotonous and really bad. It plays the SAME overworld theme again and again, and the SAME battle theme again and again. Octopath Traveler totally kicks ass in the music department and THAT GAME sets the new standard for JRPGs in terms of music. Dragon Quest IX could learn much from Octopath Traveler in this manner.

Summary: Dragon Quest IX refreshes the JRPG genre with its quality-of-life high-standards, but THERE ARE NO SURPRISES IN THIS GAME. The game is MASSIVELY BLOATED with stupid boring sidequests, the dumb Tick Tock Dungeons, and the game goes on… and on…. and on…. I didn’t even bother completing it all because it would just keep going… on. The game very much overstays its welcome.. There is no intensity to this game. The characters are well acted and executed, too bad their are all glorified tropes.

I give Dragon Quest IX a B-. If you liked the classic NES Dragon Quest games, you might like this one. The core gameplay is still fun, but all the ‘modern stuff’ is iffy at best. Dragon Quest IX isn’t so much a great game, the fact that it is so well applauded shines to light of just how TERRIBLE and UNSURPRISING the mass of RPGs are today.


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