The Zenithia trilogy finale gets a suitable remake on the DS in all of its lengthy glory.
February 14, 2011 marked a special day for gamers outside of Japan. Aside from being a holiday usually reserved for chocolates and roses, this day was instead that of “Valenslimes” with the release of Dragon Quest VI, a title that until now had not been released anywhere outside of Japan. And for DS gamers such as myself, it also marked the end of the second Dragon Quest trilogy, A.K.A. the “Zenithia trilogy,” aptly named for the castle that appears in each of the three titles.
As I’ve stated many times in the past, DQIII holds a special place in my heart due to its homage to previous titles and its overall length and sense of adventure. Thus, knowing the nature of the three Dragon Quest trilogies, DQVI had some pretty high expectations for me as I hoped it could produce the same awe-inspiring resolution to the 4-6 trilogy that DQIII did with 1-3. To compound upon the expectations, this game sees its first exposure outside of Japan less than a year after the world was exposed to DQIX and its noteworthy evolutions to the Dragon Quest formula. Could Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation live up to all of these expectations or is it just another solid addition to the line Dragon Quest titles?
I’ve always made it a habit not to read too much about games before actually playing them so as to not ruin any groundbreaking spoilers that might keep me from enjoying a game as it’s meant to be. Thus, before jumping into DQVI, I really didn’t know much about its mechanics or its length. Though Dragon Quest is both famous and infamous for its proclivity to hold on to its roots, there are typically major elements that are played around with from iteration to iteration. For instance, DQII added multiple characters, DQIII added the class system, DQIV told its story through separate chapters, and DQV played with its exquisite storytelling. Thus, it was no surprise that DQVI would have a few gameplay tricks up its sleeves.
Within only a few hours, you’ll learn of the first major gameplay element new to this game as you’ll be introduced to two separate but interlocking worlds to explore, each of which as lengthy or more than just one of the previous two games’ worlds. This sense of overall breadth is apparent from the moment you begin the game and you’ll be constantly exploring and switching between each of the two worlds. I found this to be overwhelming in a good way (with Dragon Quest titles, staying power is one of the most important aspects in my opinion) but those new to the series might be a little taken aback by this.
The benefit of the game’s size and amount of areas to explore is that it adds to the overall sense of adventure that you’ll experience. In DQIII, I was extremely pleased by the game’s sense of adventure when exploring its lengthy world and DQVI is the first game in the series (chronologically) to provide this type of exploration since DQIII.
Thus, in terms of overall size, I would have to say that this one definitely lives up to the bill of being an enormous game compared to its previous two Zenithian installments (in the same vein as DQIII being much longer than DQI or DQII). Add in the fact that this is the second game in the series to utilize the class system (that also appears in DQIII, DQVII, and DQIX) as well as further plot twists to increase the size of the world even further and you’ve got an enormous game on your hands (probably the longest game in the series aside from DQVII which I haven’t actually experienced myself but I’ve heard is by far the longest).
Old School Difficulty
The second aspect of the game that I was very happy with was its overall difficulty. Whereas I breezed through previous DQ remakes on the DS, that was not the case with this game. Instead, I found myself constantly pushed to gain more levels as the enemies progressively got more and more difficult and I actually died on some of the bosses throughout the game (which wasn’t the case in either DQIV or DQV). More akin to my experiences with DQIII, I was forced to do some grinding and found that skipping battles would only make me weaker in the long run.
Now, this is where the timing of the game’s release hurts it a little bit. Having been released after that of the most recent installment in the series, DQIX, we’ve already experienced a DQ game without randomized battles. This isn’t a huge factor in my experiences with the game as randomized battles are not an issue for me personally but others who have played DQIX will undoubtedly find this game’s randomized battles to be a fault (I also fault it though I personally don’t mind the randomized battles). As no future DQ title will probably ever step back into the realms of randomized battles (aside from another possible remake of DQVII), the release of this game after DQIX certainly hurts its overall appeal.
The fact that the game is so lengthy, however, should be enough to entice many DQ fans such as myself to buy and play through this title. Also, the class system and intertwined worlds help to keep the experience fresh throughout the game and also keep grinding from being too arduous if you’re not a fan of the old school mechanic. I’m still mixed as to whether I prefer the class system in this game to that of DQIII (in DQIII, when you change a class you start back at level 1 but get your stats halved whereas in this game, spells/skills are the only things retained from class to class) but there definitely are more classes to choose from in this game (18 classes in DQVI as opposed to just half that in DQIII).
The main story involves a typical jRPG clichéd storyline that shows up in most DQ games where you have to stop an evil lord from his momentous push towards world domination. However, as the game progresses, your main goal in life is to discover your own true identity. This is the irony in the game, though, where the character is searching for his own identity but the game itself feels like it has a similar problem, at least in terms of storyline. After playing through DQIV & DQV, this game takes a step back in storyline and character progression and feels a little more like earlier RPGs in the series.
As you travel through the world trying to figure out your origins, you’ll be spending the game helping others along the way. By the end, you’ll feel like a badass as you’ve essentially made a difference in the lives of everyone throughout the world but all the while you never get a true sense of characters’ own personalities/motives like was the case in DQIV and DQV. Nonetheless, exploration and sheer magnitude of the game’s length is what will ultimately draw fans of the series into finishing this game.