Dragon Quest XI - Review
Dragon Quest XI delivers a dynamic epic, mathematically elegant, with a well-balanced rhythm, and which is inspired by the best of dungeon crawlers , while managing to take the genre to new horizons. On the surface, however, Dragon Quest XI seems like a simplistic return to the traditional single-player RPG after a brief stint in the world of MMOs with Dragon Quest X. But behind this simplicity, which quickly fades, in reality hides an immense and complex universe. Dragon Quest XI is not a simple game ... but pure. Its sprawling surroundings have kept me spellbound for over 65 hours, and I have only one desire ... to go back!
Dragon Quest XI proves that turn-based combat can still tear your hair out. The clashes are lively, tactically enjoyable, and above all full of surprises. The vast bestiary of monsters represents in itself a difficulty during each face to face. And I especially enjoyed rushing, mostly headlong, toward new types of enemies, just to find out what kind of deep blows they were capable of delivering. The boss fights are also very tense and I have died more than once, without this leading to any form of frustration.
With the exception of a few deep sea excursions, there is no random combat in Dragon Quest XI . Every enemy is beautifully modeled in the open world, and every monster dreamed up by Akira Toriyama - the creator of Dragon Ball - comes to life through colorful and always smooth animations (despite my standard PS4). Among my best moments on Dragon Quest XI are my countless encounters against these magnificent critters. There are hundreds of creatures, and while some only change colors, their abilities evolve enough to make battles always surprising and arduous. It was also very easy for me to avoid certain melees thanks to a visual indicator and an alarm that sounded when I got too close to a monster. As for the weaker groups of enemies, they would flee in my sight, making me feel overpowered - all the while keeping me out of tasteless fights against low-level monsters.
I really appreciated the return of the Teleportation spell (Zoom in VO). This allowed me to move between each place very easily, although, to be honest, I mostly opted for a little horse ride. An activity punctuated by the discovery of beautiful landscapes, by monster fights, and by the search for resources. And I really had fun making the creatures that crossed the path of my dog fly in the air, as if they were ordinary tennis balls. Less fun but useful: monster mounts, to be captured by killing their riders, and that I could use to climb certain walls, to jump over obstacles or just to take the way to the sky. You can only ride them inside predefined areas, but I really enjoyed using their special abilities to find hidden treasures.
Everything for the loot
With a vibrant backdrop as a backdrop, Dragon Quest XI is ultimately just one gigantic, magnificent and treasure-filled dungeon, stretching for miles and in all directions. One of the great strengths of Dragon Quest XI is the sheer amount of gear scattered here and there just begging to be found. It's simple: if you find a corner that is even a little remote, you have a good chance of digging up some interesting loot there. My curiosity has thus been regularly and generously rewarded.
Most often, I would find rare materials and recipes for crafting more powerful equipment. Crafting in Dragon Quest XI starts off pretty basic, but as you level up the forge minigames get more and more complicated - and indeed more exciting. That being said, the manufacture of new equipment is completely optional. Reselling materials and recipes in stores to purchase equipment is just as effective. Crafting remains a more fun activity. It also allowed me to satisfy the perfectionist that I am, and who could not continue the adventure without improving the stats of my characters as much as possible.
Accents ... lots of accents!
The dubbing in Dragon Quest XI is also good. I have that said quickly deactivated the vocal dialogues in favor of the subtitles. I'm the type to skim over the dialogues in any RPG I play, even if, in this specific case, I lingered more than usual, thanks in particular to the work done on the accents of the characters .
The localization of the texts is indeed excellent. This is the first time that a video game has used so many puns specific to my native language. The game is regularly creative. The city where locals speak only haiku particularly impressed me. The only unfortunate point is that the people we meet during the adventure, all of them talkative to say the least, usually only tell small things. It didn't take long for me to focus on my monster / treasure hunting activity.
Fans of the Dragon Quest saga will in any case be in heaven. The game never misses an opportunity to pay homage to previous parts of the franchise. Mini-medals, familiar spells, metal slime, casinos - and a lot more that I won't spoil for you ... Everything that made the old episodes of the saga so strong is back. Despite everything, I think that I would have enjoyed playing this eleventh part even without having played the old ones. As for the symphonic soundtrack, it goes perfectly with the 8-bit sounds. More than a simple wink, this musical approach makes it possible to make the link between past and present.
This reminiscence of the past is not that positive: the plot of Dragon Quest XI , quite uneven, does not come close to the gameplay. Some parts of the game could have been more striking if the developers had tweaked them a little more. I also struggle with unnecessarily sexualized missions. How does disguising the female characters on my team as sexy bunnies, like asking on a quest, make the experience more exciting?
The “Paf-Paf” tradition (the act of placing the head of a character between the breasts of a woman and popularized by Akira Toriyama), very present in the Dragon Quest saga, is also making a comeback in Dragon Quest XI . The games of the saga indeed make a lot of reference to this pseudo-sexual metaphor, most often in a roundabout way, and this eleventh part is no exception. He even abuses it a lot. Sometimes it serves as a comic spring ... But it also happens that the joke falls apart. An optional meeting got me out of my hinges. At one point in the game, I was invited to a girl's room, plunged into darkness. I then received a surprise “Paf-Paf”. But when the lights came back on, the girl's father was present. She then explained to me that it was her father who made me a "Paf-Paf". What that involved disturbed me a lot. So I didn't find it very funny.
Each character embodied in Dragon Quest XI is unique, but I didn't find their personalities very fascinating. So yes, the silent hero is intentionally devoid of personality. He's the Chosen One, the one that's supposed to save the world, a status Dragon Quest XI reminds us VERY often. The rest of your team, meanwhile, grow emotionally and evolve as you progress, but everything that happens is hardly surprising - and this despite an improving storytelling in the second part of the game.
Each fighter has a story arc with no real flavor. Fortunately, these heroes get a lot more interesting when you look at their stats. Their skill trees, all different, greatly boost progression. Their special abilities are also all complementary. This allowed me to change the composition of my team in the middle of a fight, to adapt to each situation. And when a fight ended badly, I knew I could come back stronger and better prepare, and try the mission again without being too punished. Dragon Quest XI is finally a model of accessibility, thanks to its game system that adapts to any type of player, whether they are neophytes or aficionados of JRPGs.