Time travel takes time to mature.
I had always heard and knew of the Dragon Quest series, but have never actually played one in my life. Being a pretty big JRPG fan, I feel like I have committed some travesty throughout my 30 years in the gaming scene, but finally, after all these years, I get my hands on Dragon Quest VII. Or rather, the remake of the PS1 game fully titled Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. I did my research before jumping in, so I knew what to expect for the most part. What I got was a very old school, methodical, and sometimes very enjoyable RPG. There are some issues here and there, but it is left up to interpretation if those were intentional or just remnants of an older feeling JRPG.
Players take on the role of a teenage boy who lives on an island along with numerous other residents. This island is the only landmass anyone knows of, and no matter how far anyone sails, they never find any other land or people. Our hero is friends with Kefier, the prince of the island who always seems to get in trouble horsing around and going where they shouldn’t be. One day, Keifer and the main character find a temple that, after some investigating, sends them to an unknown time in the past on an island that isn’t their home. Now, the prince, the hero, and his young neighbor named Maribel must get back to their time period by saving the islands and making sure they survive through to their time period.
Price I’d pay: $39.99
Dragon Quest VII is one of those JRPGs that will last players up to 100 hours. I’m not joking. There are numerous things to see and do along with some grinding in the old JRPG style that people remember. This game seems to want to teeter on the brink of a complete redo of the original game and keeping the same formula that was in the original. A few examples are the menu system. It is relatively simple but archaic to the point that sometimes finding the right thing in a menu could prove a bit difficult, or at the very least, take some time. After spending a few hours with it, it became manageable, but even then, looking at how this game is a remake, I would have expected a least a quality of life overhaul.
Expect to do a lot of reading, as there is no voice acting and the game doesn’t hold the player’s hand at all. I may have heard a single line of dialog telling me what general direction to go, but if I didn’t catch that, I was left having to find my way myself, which could take me a nice 20 minutes.
The biggest detriment to Dragon Quest VII would have to be the pacing. It took me over two hours just to get to my first battle and almost 12 hours to finally get to the point where I could assign my party members a class to learn new abilities. When it was taking that long to even get the game started, I was wondering just how easy this game would be to introduce new players to the series. I felt like I wouldn’t be the right case even though I never played them before, but I had understood a bit how this game worked before attempting to play it. Needless to say, this would be a rather difficult starting point for newcomers.
It’s not all bad, though. I really enjoyed the overall structure of the game once it finally fell into a groove. Some may find it boring or tedious, but knowing the next step in what to do to progress was a nice breath of fresh air for me. I find the key pieces for an island, time travel to that island, save it from something, reveal it in the present day, rinse, repeat. For some reason, I found this to be a structure I could get behind.
Along with that, I really enjoyed the class system in the game. While the battle system is relatively simple, the class system really adds more to the overall combat, with new abilities for each class as well as certain stats. On top of that, I could learn even more classes by leveling up the classes I had assigned. It added a much needed progression to the game after the first 10 hours had almost none other than story beats.
Visually, the game has that classic Akria Toriyama art style that is both colorful and unique to the entire series, and I really enjoyed the soundtrack to the game. It was clear and very impressive coming from a 3DS, and looking at some screenshots of the original PS1 game, this is possibly the biggest overhaul the game had.
Dragon Quest VII is still an enjoyable RPG. It has the old school feel that made it a classic, but some of what was left in feels a bit too old for a modern take. The pacing is the biggest issue here, and I would say players wanting to understand the game going in need to realize it takes a good 12-15 hours before this game even begins to start, but if you can hold out until it actually begins, you looking at a decently structured, thought out, and fun JRPG. If you’re looking for a more instant gratification game, you may want to look elsewhere.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.