Even as an avid JRPG fan, there are some series that I am unable to check out either due to strains on time or availability.
In the case for 7th Dragon, it’s because the previous titles were never officially localized for the States.
However, with the release of 7th Dragon III Code:VFD, I was finally given the opportunity to check out this long running series, and came away pleasantly surprised.
Voice Acting: JPN only
Played: 25~ hours
The story of Code:VFD is a typical tale of survival, where humanity is at the brink of destruction under the threat of powerful creatures which are identified as “Dragons”.
The only hope left to combat these overwhelming foes and the coming of the final, true dragon requires the completion of a ritual of sorts, with ingredients that can only be gathered by traveling through time itself.
Given that the player creates all of the playable characters, the collective group is only really referred to as a unit instead of their own individual names.
Even though it was fun to create my own party from a template of numerous character designs and voices, the story did suffer due to the flat nature of how the created characters interacted with the rest of the NPCs.
There were only a handful of classes to choose from at the beginning, but as I continued to progress I unlocked more classes and character templates to choose from.
While the classes aren’t quite as varied as something like Final Fantasy Tactics, there were enough to keep my party composition fresh and interesting throughout my play time.
I was also tasked with creating up to nine characters which would all participate in combat, with three in the front doing most of the work and the other six providing support based on their class from the backlines.
Juggling all of those characters at once was a breeze, as every character gained EXP and SP whether they were in the frontlines or not, and I had a full combat ready group in no time.
The skills that I could level up using SP felt diverse and quite impactful, as each level I put into a unique skill opened up new potential to unleash some truly devastating combos.
One of my favorite strategies was to set up a few skills that would make my characters auto-follow up certain elemental attacks, and then let loose a flurry of attacks of that element, chaining one blow into another.
While the turn-based combat itself was enjoyable and rewarding, I felt the random encounter rate was a bit too frequent, as I found myself dreading my steps after the encounter meter turned red.
I managed to negate most of this by using an item to reduce encounter rates, but I found the process tedious and would’ve much preferred the mechanic simply built into the options, like Bravely Default/Second.
One interesting thing about the combat was that if there were any dragons in the immediate area, they would join the fight uninvited after a few turns which gave rise to some intense moments where I tried to finish one Dragon before another could join in to finish me off while I was weak.
Unfortunately, the dungeons themselves felt very basic, with predictable dead ends without any creative mechanics to make them interesting, and I found myself vaguely searching for treasure and traversing to the next area as soon as I could.
As for side activities, there’s a plethora of side quests to take on and a base to build up using “DZ”, which are currency earned from defeating dragons, but none of the activities really stood out from the standard fare of talk to ‘X’ and go collect or kill ‘Y’.
Even though 7th Dragon III Code:VFD is the fourth title of this series, it’s our first official introduction to the franchise, and it makes a good case on the idea that this might be a little gem of a series that we’ve been missing out on for all these years. From its solid character customization to its strategic and enjoyable combat, it’s yet another great JRPG to grace the 3DS.
Fun Tidbit – Don’t be shy about using items to reduce encounter rate and using escape kits to get out of dungeons quickly when they call for it. They’re not too expensive and will ultimately make the game much more enjoyable to play.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.