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Dragon Quest VII: Fragments Of A Forgotten Past – Review

dragon-quest-vii-3ds-cover-image-02My level of historical knowledge is…trivial, to say the very least. It boggles my mind to think about the countless descendants of human kind, all of which made certain decisions that set our race on a path that lead us directly to this point in time and into the future as it continues ever on like a speeding locomotive. We, with the decisions we make in the present, will effectively become key factors in the world’s development, eventually become a historical point of interest for those in the distant future wishing to learn more about our time.

There’s a saying that goes; “history is written by the winners“. As a result of my whimsical nature, this quote interests me to no end. Let us say that, yes, history is indeed written by the winner; the winner being the one to emerge victorious from, perhaps, a battle or farce that would have changed the records of time. One, when writing, has the freedom of interpretation and composition. They have the ability to delve into factual detail or, to peer at the other side of the coin…to construct a work of fiction for their own benefit.

We live in a realm of utter mystery. For everything we know, there are countless things we do not, and it is our goal as a global civilisation to uncover the enigma’s of our past and present, for the benefit of our future. Atlantis, depending on who it is you ask, was once a thriving, greatly-developed island, but in modern times we know it as nothing more than a work of fiction. Let us say, for arguments sake, that a great war took place. This war ravaged the island and, eventually, was the cause of it’s disappearance. The conquering army, in a final act of absolute domination, decided that their record of what Atlantis once was will be kept only as a memory.

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Now what if we had the opportunity to travel backwards in time to a point far before such an event would have taken place only to discover that Atlantis truly did exist. Would you defend it, changing history in the process and allowing the citizens of Atlantis the opportunity to grow and develop into the future? Of course you would, and so would Prince Keifer, Maribel, Ruff, and the rest of your heroic party. Welcome, hero, to your very own adventure through the past, rebuilding the world from the ground up. History is written by the winners? Well, it’s a good thing you don’t know how to lose!

The latest in the long-running Dragon Quest RPG series, DRAGON QUEST VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past begins when, in their quest to prove their island isn’t alone in the world, life-long friends Auster, Prince Kiefer and Maribel find themselves embarking on a journey that will see them travel through time and rescue civilisations long-forgotten in order to save the future.

By collecting fragments of tablets and putting them back together again, the intrepid heroes can travel to new places and past dungeons in order to restore the world in this truly massive adventure. – Nintendo Australia

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Japanese Role-Playing Games are long, they’re extensive, they’re detailed, they’re enigmatic, they’re tough, and sometimes…they’re hard to get through, but there are certain long-running series’ that understand this and actively do something to combat the monotony of repetition and elongation. Dragon Quest, I believe, is one of those series. DQ VII’s story is one that remains incredibly vague long into the game. This is done, I believe, completely on purpose to aid the player in their continued enjoyment of the game. It doesn’t deliver to you the complete story early on, just whispers of what it could be as you pave a path of your very own, adventuring the way in which you choose.

Like early Pokemon titles, DQ VII is a game that allows for you, the player, to insert yourself into the story, giving you the truest sense of a singular experience unlike any other. As you talk to more NPCs you’re awarded with snippets of information that may lead you to certain opinions, and as you progress through main story missions and deeper into the game you begin partaking on quests directly related to the game’s overarching story. At it’s most purest; DQ VII plays host to a story about a young boy and his friends who are adventuring through time in an attempt to rebuild the world. For maximum enjoyment, that is honestly all you need.

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The intricacies of the game’s tale are made up by smaller, singular stories that, as you crawl closer to the game’s end, you begin to realise all align to tell one huge, adventurous saga. Essentially; you’re delivered one story per island, and most of the islands you travel to are home to vastly different stories. The ones that aren’t, however, are directly connect which, like those unconnected, are just as exciting! This story layout allows for players to understand that if they’re not quite a fan of the storyline and characters they’re currently in the middle of, it will all be vastly different once that particular island has been cleared of all danger. It is, once again, just another technique to stop the sure creep of boredom, and it works wonderfully!

DQ VII is also driven heavily by the game’s team of protagonists. Unlike other RPG titles, DQ VII does not feature a large cast of playable characters, instead it chooses to introduce key players are the most opportune times so as to develop them enough for your to cherish. No RPG is without it’s main character cast, and although this one is small it still has a great deal of heart, more than many other titles of it’s kind. DQ VII’s moderate pacing allows for you to become comfortable with not only it’s setting and it’s story but with it’s characters too, even the ones that do not join your team. There’s simply so much to be discovered in DQ VII, and it’s layout compels you to want to see it all, but with it’s story pace more on the gradual side it’s easy to understand why many people would choose to not play, instead picking up a title with a much quicker payoff. DQ VII is indeed a slow burn, but one that you’ll appreciate every step of the way.

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DQ VII, being a complete remake of an older title, plays much in the same way as the original, but with the unmistakable air of a modern Role-Playing Game. As far as gameplay mechanics go, there is no drastic change from the original to it’s 3DS remake. This new edition of the classic game allows for a tighter overall control scheme, adding certain elements only to aid in the adventure of the player. Features like the Fragment Finder, which alerts you to Fragment pieces in the area, though minor sounding this addition makes a huge difference in regards to the flow of the game. Difficulty levels for certain portions of the game have been lowered to allow steady progression through the story without putting the player into positions so arduous as to have them bogged down. Still, DQ VII remains difficult enough for you, the player, to feel challenged. This, in most cases, makes for compelling game time as you strive to overcome the hardships of the game’s story.

Seasoned Dragon Quest players will find a sense of comfort with DQ VII in the way that it plays similarly to most modern Dragon Quest titles which, for those of you who are new to the series, are a beautiful combination of classic RPG gameplay elements and modern takes on said elements. This, for some, can be quite detrimental: Dragon Quest, like most JRPG titles of yesteryear, is incredibly in-depth. This means that there are countless things to experience, but it also means that it can drag on for quite some time, especially for those of you out there who simply enjoy the meat of an RPG and not the infinite extras that add to an elongated adventure.

Take, for example, the ability to change Classes or Vocations. In most titles, this is an almost immediate option for the player, but in Dragon Quest VII it is made available some twenty hours into the game, and only after a backbreaking storyline which strips your characters of their Spells and Abilities, and forces you to fight enemies and bosses bare. Unlocking the ability to change Vocation, though, will breath new life into your experience as you decide which Class Tree to build upon, unlocking more and more as you go. The game makes you work for it, but the payoff is satisfying. Dragon Quest VII does not waste anyones time. If your mind is open to it, DQ VII will deliver worthwhile storylines and character progressions that will make it seems as though what you’re doing in-game, big or small, is very much worth your time and efforts.

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The greatest change to DQ VII with the release of the 3DS remake is, without a doubt in my mind, the game’s visuals. Going from a sprite-heavy visual presence to one entirely made up of multi-dimensional models is one hell of a leap, but damn does it make this game truly come to life. Though pixel graphics are indeed timeless, this, I believe, is a perfect visual evolution for the game. The entire game looks absolutely brilliant! Exactly what one would expect from a modern Nintendo 3DS title, and the 3D capabilities only prove to make it look even greater.

Though some swear against the 3DS’ unique attribute, the 3D element, I am quite the fan. Playing through DQ VII having this feature turned off does not do justice the world in which you adventure. The level of depth that the 3D component brings to the visuals of this title is unlike anything I’ve seen before. In my humble opinion; it is the only way to play this game. All the models, from the monsters to the towns that occupy this huge world, are wonderfully rendered, and while they’re not the best the industry has ever seen, DQ VII’s graphic quality is, arguably, one of the best to be seen on the Nintendo 3DS.

Alongside any outstanding visual presence comes a soundtrack that supports it wonderfully, and DQ VII has this in spades. A staple of any good RPG centred around pure adventure is a soundtrack that carries you through thick and thin. DQ VII plays host to a soundtrack with a charming variety that can take you, emotionally, into the depths of a dank dungeon or into the home of a happy farm girl. It offers so much auditory bliss to the player, it’s incredibly hard to decide against playing with the sound on, which I am often one to do. I made it a point to play DQ VII with headphones in, paying attention not only to the game, but everything it has to offer, including it’s extensive soundtrack, and it simply made for a far better experience.

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As a, somewhat, newcomer to the world of Dragon Quest, only having played few games in the past, tackling Dragon Quest VII was quite a task, but not one that I regret, and not one that I felt sapped me of my time, energy, and overall enjoyment. Dragon Quest is a brilliant series of Role-Playing Games that not only feature an engaging story and well-oiled gameplay mechanics, but also the impeccable artistic style of Akira Toriyama. Dragon Quest is a series that is hard to hate, but Dragon Quest VII specifically demands your love with every fibre of it’s being. You can’t turn away from excellence, no matter how cynical modern gaming has made it’s audience, especially in the presence of a game like Dragon Quest VII that boasts a large-scale adventure, accompanied by storytelling depth, and an overall tone that reminds you of the whimsy you once had as a child.

Sure, Dragon Quest VII is hard to get through, and it pushes you to your absolute limits as it puts you through your paces and makes you work for what you’re eventually given, but that, in turn, is what makes this game so damn addictive. You WANT to succeed, you WANT to progress, and when times are tough you WANT to persevere. Dragon Quest VII gives birth to ambition within it’s players like very few other games can. 3DS aficionados and RPG veterans alike will quickly discover that Dragon Quest VII: Fragments Of A Forgotten Past is a game that MUST be owned, played, and conquered, no matter how hard it is, no matter how long it takes. This is an adventure unlike any other…this is YOUR adventure, provided by the unparalleled Dragon Quest VII. It’s time for you to set sail.

You can check out more of what Dragon Quest VII: Fragments Of A Forgotten Past has to offer at it’s official website: Click Here

Grade: A+

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