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Dragon Quest VII Puts A Exclusive Twist On The JRPG Method

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For quite a few of Dragon Quest VII’s overwhelmingly depressing storylines, I expended time conserving and hanging out with individuals I did not give a crap about. It is not that they were lacking identity or angsty teens that so quite a few JRPG figures embody—no. It is that they were all genuinely damned suggest.

Dragon Quest VII’s main idea is intriguing. The quiet fishing village protagonist, his buddy Prince Kiefer, and childhood annoyance (buddy) Mabel dwell a tranquil existence on the only island in the planet. Suspecting there is far more out there than just their dull land mass, they set out to examine the island’s ruins. In accomplishing so, they stumble on a space whole of portals which leads to other lands, available by shard fragments the heroes uncover all through the system of the video game. Unbeknownst to them, in the beginning, these lands are a portion of their shared planet, but they exist in the previous. The moment identified and frequented, this makes the continents reappear in the protagonists’ current time.

With every emergence, there are previous histories to find. New cultures and individuals surface. And every portion of land brings its individual horrible backstory weighing down its planet with NPC solid associates at the middle of its turmoil. It is up to the protagonists to solve no matter what problem transpires in the previous to influence adjustments in the long term. “Solving” isn’t always the appropriate term to explain the actions they need to take as some of the heartbreaking matters have no straightforward fixes.

All of these narratives increase all through time with consequences that shape the future—for much better or worse.

When Dragon Quest VII produced on the first PlayStation in 2001 under the title Dragon Warrior VII, I was most likely much too invested in pledging allegiance to Square’s Last Fantasy collection to notice. This oversight on my portion was the good thing is corrected when I performed the 2016 3DS remake, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Neglected Previous. But I was worried when I first commenced playing.

More recent JRPGs have embraced experimenting with battle programs and going absent from substantial enemy come across premiums as a suggests to grind and degree-up figures. Some of Dragon Quest VII’s ‘missteps’ are ingrained in the series’ thirty-yr JRPG DNA—likely attributable to currently being a merchandise of its time. For these reasons, sinking time into an more mature video game felt challenging. Advancements were created for the remake, this sort of as up to date character art and a story recap feature supposed to help players bear in mind wherever they still left off. But finishing Dragon Quest VII can take in excess of one hundred hours. I was appropriate to be apprehensive.

But none of this was surprising—grinding is portion of the JRPG genre’s identification, particularly for more mature titles.

Despite its exciting idea, I was also bracing for the predictability a JRPG from its narrative to its figures. But in spite of its couple of negatives, what I was not anticipating was exploring just how brilliantly and unconventionally Dragon Quest VII tells its story.


It Breaks A Couple Established JRPG Norms

Game titles, this sort of as different entries in the mainline Last Fantasy franchise (and it really should be observed, just one that begun just after the Dragon Quest collection), comply with a JRPG method in which a potent (at times convoluted) big plot is facilitated by a (at times) intriguing villain. The heroes are commonly a likable, memorable solid of playable figures. Dragon Quest VII, on the other hand, has a distinctive narrative construction that embraces experimentation which breaks with that far more standard strategy to the style.

Some of the series’ overarching plots are ordinarily created of a simplistic re-telling of excellent vs . a revival of a supremely evil currently being. Dragon Quest VII is no unique in this regard but that is not to say its villain, The Demon King, is a pushover. Its existence is felt by way of a rise in evil forces overtaking the land, albeit with a lot less of a fleshed out identity. The Demon King is, effectively, pure evil and as this sort of there is tiny character backstory and advancement.

What is unique to some of the current entries, Dragon Quest VII included, is the supply of person gut-wrenching tales. Even far more intriguing is that these tales are tied to the key plot and big evil but carried out so with seemingly inconsequential skinny narrative threads. In switch, quite a few of its tales are offered as potent, standalone, centered narratives which are wholly intriguing in their individual appropriate.

And Damn Are These Stories Incredibly Gut-Wrenching

On the first land discovered, Koiji Sugiyama’s thoughtful, forlorn musical compositions coupled with visuals of darkened, foreboding skies set the all round tone for Dragon Quest VII. Various hours later on, a lavish port town is property to a horrible curse which transforms its citizens’ infants into grotesque demons. In the 3rd planet: a quiet village—silent due to the fact its after residing people are all stone statues, cursed when an evil magical rain fell. Inspection of the statues tells our protagonists that the statues are pretty weathered. Ghosts of the villagers snapshot memories of the day appropriate in advance of the gray rain came, and it is unveiled just one boy, Felix, survived due to the fact he happened to be underground at the time. There’s very little the heroes can do but witness the horrors of why the village is the way it is, as effectively as set off Felix’s new journey to go forth and warn other towns of the rain.

The heroes are not able to help you save Felix’s town, and in the current, the village is gone. It is replaced by a strange lady who rehabilitates monsters who attempt for salvation by getting to be far more human. Dragon Quest VII has a intelligent way of placing some of its tales into movement. Even though Felix does not make an overall look once again, he’s stated as obtaining fulfilled his duty due to the fact the gray rains did fall once again in a unique portion of the world—triggering a whole new tragedy with unique NPCs, and a story with twists and turns spanning many time skips in the previous.

These are just a couple of examples of the gutting tales Dragon Quest VII dishes out. Each individual land is a unique story beset by sadness. And as the video game progresses, it is clear that Dragon Quest VII is not always in the enterprise of supplying storybook fantasy endings to these person tales.

Great Use of Time Travel

The game’s use of time journey aids generate its splendidly elaborate and tragic planet. Time journey isn’t a new mechanic to quite a few JRPGs. Iconic game titles this sort of as Chrono Result in, and 2009’s Radiant Historia, make exceptional utilizes of time manipulation to tell their tales. Dragon Quest VII really should also be counted as good for its intricate weaving of science fiction to do so. The protagonists at times meddle to appropriate wrongs which then shape the long term, or they could observe narrative threads unfurl in the previous with consequences unveiled in their individual timeline.

In addition to the 7th’s entry’s potent, person tales which seize a particularly grim overview of its planet, Dragon Quest VII’s finest trick is just how greatly interconnected and layered its tales are. In excess of the system of one hundred hours of playtime, items can transpire early in its previous or current timelines only to be revisited a great deal later on for major, blindsiding impression. The careful make up is methodical and players aren’t explicitly privy to them making their reveals shocking and purposeful. It cleverly utilizes time journey to give the video game this illusion of throwaway tales which are in reality deeply rooted into its all round prepare.

But time journey also bolsters a curious tactic used by Dragon Quest VII—by foregoing inserting all of the detailed emphasis on its protagonists to mold them into relatable solid associates, it instead allows its NPCs and their tales to acquire and shine. The key figures are significant in that they will ultimately help you save the planet, absolutely sure. Nonetheless, Dragon Quest VII’s strategy to storytelling lends alone to far more episodic adventures the protagonists bear witness to.

NPCs Steal The Highlight

In inserting so a great deal emphasis on the NPCs’ worlds, Dragon Quest VII is unlike so quite a few other JRPGs which makes a occasion with potent, varying personalities central to the main of a JRPG encounter. The Dragon Quest game titles could have recognizable heroes with every iteration—they would not spawn spin offs this sort of as the Dragon Quest Heroes game titles, or the Japan-only Dragon Quest Theatrhythm, just after all—but they are not always as effectively-designed. Persona 4 and other game titles in the collection as an illustration, meticulously craft their solid. In addition to specific NPCs and social links for marriage developing, the key figures every get a their individual story arcs to floor their motivations and make them far more entirely formed.

That explained, a couple of of Dragon Quest VII’s minimal key playable solid associates have deep connections to the all round tale. One particular of the figures goes from a important controllable hero to just one that is not. Instead, the character’s arc turns into ingrained into record as just one of the most significant quests that is resolved by way of the generations by means of his ancestor. The interference leads other characters’ and NPCs’ involvement to department and spawn into an exquisitely multilayered story that is entrenched in both the previous and current.

The game’s detailed awareness to its NPCs—even going so much as to switch a lead into one—is a testament to how effectively it implements its time journey to mature its planet and make its tales.

The Heroes Aren’t Often Hugely Regarded

And so, apart from the pair of key playable figures whose significance is weaved into the narrative, it leaves the heroes—including the just one you control—in a predicament. One particular that mostly eliminates them as lauded figures with in-depth personalities and backstories. It is a thing the video game hilariously makes a mockery of in at the very least just one story line and a couple of other situations which aren’t actually humorous at all.

For all the planet adjustments that the heroes engage in or oversee, their excellent deeds are at times forgotten in record. At situations they are remembered as saviors, but in other conditions your occasion of record changers are rewarded with obscurity or worse. In just one village they come to be scapegoats as portion of a lie that portrays them as evildoers. It is a horrible protect-up intended to conceal the reality that the villagers of the town turned to an offended mob that after set out to murder a citizen out of panic. With a record to report, the village instead destinations blame on your key character and his occasion for the crime, branding them as would-be murderers.

It is not just this village of cowardly liars that disregards your heroism. To so quite a few of the inhabitants of the growing planet, the occasion associates are treated with scant courtesy due to the fact Dragon Quest VII’s NPCs are just downright savage. In some conditions, their personalities are unfavorable, pushed by fears that induce them to come to be antagonists of every of the episodic adventures. Even your teammate, Maribel, is horrible to your key character. She’s normally viewed hanging out with a jerk who is also hostile towards you.

Not every one just one is outrageously wretched like the terrible father who denied acknowledging his little one as his individual due to the fact she was born with no his tribe’s defining winged attribute, for illustration. There are some who are actually respectable figures. The types who are the central to every of the new lands’ tales ordinarily in shape this requirements. These figures, alongside with specific nicer NPCs—as with the situation of the gentleman who genuinely loved his cow Daisy—are normally downtrodden heroes in their individual appropriate. Struck by tragedies and trying to get the support of Dragon Quest VII’s key protagonists to see their tales by way of.

But when the video game regularly options horrific tales of demon invasions, and figures who are methods below their demonic counterparts in their treatment of peers, it is challenging to not be in shock that this is the planet you’ve been tasked to find and subsequently help you save. Even now, although quite a few NPCs could have certain dialogue that only serves to set off events in their towns, Dragon Quest VII makes them feel distinctly human even if gruff, unlikable or wicked at their cores. Several of them are wrapped in their individual incredible problems and it is these circumstances the heroes set out to change—despite couple of of them actually worth conserving.

When I performed, I was struck by a little consolation as I was haphazardly making my way from just one place to an additional in my hometown of Estard. There’s a Hero job course in Dragon Quest VII that equips your occasion with a red cape. There’s a thing totally pleasant about running all-around as a famous hero with a cape dangling powering. My key character is a hero, even when so quite a few figures deal with you as scum or overlook your deeds.

The Hero course normally felt like the validation of my function when that recognition was if not muted by peers, and individuals saved in-video game. Not to mention a location of solace to cope with the incredible slight doled out by the game’s story alone that momentarily undercuts your heroism.

Matters Aren’t Often As They Appear to be

Dragon Quest VII’s lengthy disadvantages aren’t just still left to meddling in affairs in excess of the system of time and record. In the first couple of hours of the video game, Kiefer and the key character need an certain merchandise to open ruins doors. It seems straightforward enough—your drunk uncle has a mysterious glowing orb termed the sizzling stone that seems to in shape the monthly bill. Other than, the sizzling stone isn’t the simplified essential merchandise needed to unlock the Shrine and Pillars of Sanctuary as both the figures and I incorrectly guessed.

The stone is significant but its unveiling as this sort of isn’t a straight tale. In reality, its legitimate function isn’t unveiled right until some sixty hours into the video game, and from it emerges a Famous Hero. But aren’t you the Hero? Perfectly, of course but it is a complicated situation. There is a qualifications story for your key playable character which at some point arrives into engage in. But Dragon Quest game titles also have a way of turning the Hero tales on their heads. You can handle a character for hours, as with Dragon Quest V, and find, it is your lineage who is technically the star. Or in Dragon Quest VII’s situation, your group is potent and they help you save the planet but they are a band of servants and envoys to the legitimate embodiment of excellent, and assistants to a Hero who is considered as this sort of with a extravagant title as proof.


Dragon Quest VII is a complicated video game that is emotionally taxing. It is not the only JRPG with a wealth of multi-layered depth hidden in its hours of playtime but it is just one I’m grateful I lastly experienced the opportunity to engage in. I enjoyed currently being strung alongside to uncover all its complexities, and currently being astonished when I identified them.

Immediately after a couple of hours of engage in, I considered Dragon Quest VII fell into a story sample created by its time journey. Small did I know I would be taking in individuals words later on in my journey. It did it with a town termed Nottagen—a joke that took me way much too lengthy to get—which promised some light-hearted humor only to dash individuals hopes.

When I thought I’d uncover a tale mostly centered on my character’s story to make me the hero, it gave me some overtly hostile NPCs and very woeful tales from many others to mood my assumptions and self-significance.

And just when I thought I experienced the video game all figured out by way of my previous activities with JRPGs, Dragon Quest VII’s savvy structural narrative and execution gave me a great deal to ponder.

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