For 30 years of the founding saga of the Japanese RPG, Dragon Quest XI: The Fighters of Destiny reminds us of what are the great gaming adventures.
We spoke to you old-fashioned mustard in our criticism ofOctopath Travelerit will be a question here of a good big cheese. The kind that comes out of the soil, to which our taste buds always come back when it comes time to celebrate the taste of simple things.
Dragon Quest, it is first the story of three craftsmen: the designer and screenwriter Yuji Horii, the illustrator Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) and composer Koichi Sugiyama (Cyborg 009, Ideon). Walking in the footsteps of Wizardry, the series published by Enix defines in 1986 the canons of the Japanese RPG. Far from the race for power, this school of video games therefore decides to integrate technical limitations to work on the evocative dimension of the image, the story and the situations at stake. Aware of this legacy, this eleventh episode focuses on what the show has done best: prove that all stories, big or small, are worth telling.
Who is Moses?
A world in darkness, a castle with fire and blood, a queen fleeing with her baby in the pouring rain, a landau rescued from the waters by an old man who was fishing at the line … The hero, here it is: a fallen prince and miraculously raised among the peasants in ignorance of his fate. His left hand is still marked with the symbol of the Enlightened, the envoy of the gods who will pull the world of Elrea from the clutches of the Dark. The prophecies always doing their job as well, it will be question for our young first to furrow the world in search of magical orbs to stem the evil.
Past this pitch of the most classic, we will take care to unveil the main thread of the plot! Indeed, and it is perhaps the peculiarity of this opus, the narration of Dragon Quest XI uses multiple revelations whose dramatic – even tragic – significance is largely based on the element of surprise. We will not escape a few lengths in the introduction and a few outbursts in the second half of the adventure, but we must recognize that Yuji Horii has lost none of his storytelling skills.
First observation: Dragon Quest XI has one of the most beautiful cel-shading in the history of video games. Behind the minimalist designs and the soft color palette, the textures and the effects of light are dazzling. The visual rendering of the title reflects decades of progress, without sacrificing anything to the evocative authenticity of Toriyama's line. The environments are vast and more detailed without betraying the imperative of simplicity: inns, taverns, shops, chatty NPCs and hidden books … Every corner has something to offer! This effort of reconciliation unfortunately finds its limits in the partitions made by Sugiyama. The 88-year-old composer delivers some uninspired or disconcerting MIDI loops, especially since the symphonic arrangements – already recorded and sold commercially! – could have been inserted into the game during its location as was the case for the episode VIII on PS2 …
Roots … and zeal?
The recipe of J-RPG remains unchanged, but some new features will streamline the progression. Very practical for small game sessions, campfires allow you to rest and save between two villages. The opportunity to chat with your teammates, but also to test your talents as a blacksmith in a very useful mini-game where you can build your own equipment with elements recovered from the monsters. History of traveling quiet, ride your canasson will allow you to trace your route while stomping the monsters that will have the misfortune to cross it. It will however rub well to touch the sesame of any good old RPG: the experience!
The fights will not reinvent the warm water: attack, spells, defense, objects, flight. As an alternative, your fighters will randomly switch for a few rounds in a hypertonic state, opening the way for super-moves that will vary depending on the composition of your team. This cyclic system will show its interest in boss battles, where your control of the buff and state alterations will be put to the test. Throughout the levels, your characters will collect points to spend in a well-supplied skill tree: weapons specializations, secret techniques, statistical bonuses …
In this well-honed mechanics, a large aberration remains to be deplored. A free camera mode, activated by default, will allow you to move on the battle arena. This "freedom" borrowed from Tales of unfortunately, no value in the action, especially since the camera will often be cluttered by an obstacle in the foreground. For more comfort, a return to the classic scenography is always possible.
Dragon Quest XI not being an anachronism ready, Square Enix has given itself a full year to deliver the localization work that was needed … even to put your hands in grease! The menu ergonomics have been redesigned for clarity, now incorporating thumbnails for objects and colorful icons to navigate the list of spells. Despite the anachronistic rendering of MIDI music, the English voices will bring a surplus of theatricality to the dialogues. Also welcome the incredible work of the French translators, who transform the essay after the hilarious puns of Ni no Kuni 2 at the beginning of the year.
Overall, the game has a much better balance. The dash, saving, finally confers a speed of displacement at the height of the decorations that one crosses. The farm sessions are shortened, and the fighting more full-bodied. If you are a plaintiff, you will have the opportunity to modulate the difficulty as you see it at the beginning of the game: less money collected, less experience, prohibition to buy objects … not to mention the "hontite", syndrome of l impostor who can paralyze your characters in full fight!
Dragon Quest XI is the big traditional J-RPG that the previous generation of consoles has refused us. This anniversary episode delivers an almost conclusive testament to all that the genre has been able to offer over three decades of history. Between claimed classicism and assumed anachronisms, this generous and elegant tale reverts to the foundation of all the great artistic adventures: the know-how. Proof, if it were necessary, that humility is the mark of the great.
Dragon Quest XI: The Fightsof the destiny is available since September 4, 2018. The game is published by Square Enix on PlayStation 4 and PC.