Review: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (3DS)
The Cursed Kingdom
Prepare yourselves to once again embark on a quest to save the land from the evil jester known as Dhoulmagus. The King of Trodain and his daughter have been cursed and it is up to you, the silent hero, to save them as well as their kingdom in the eighth installment of the Dragon Quest series, better known as Dragon Warrior in Japan.
The World that is Dragon Quest VIII
There is one thing I immediately noticed upon starting Dragon Quest VIII and that is, it is simply gorgeous on the Nintendo 3DS. This cel shaded art style RPG is definitely more polished than the original version that released on the PlayStation 2. You’ll also discover the vastness that is the world of Dragon Quest VIII. The world opens up to the player early on in the game and is delightful to every open-world fan. For a game that was originally released in 2006 in Europe this still impresses me today.
The game hosts quite a number of Castles, Towns and Cities that can be explored and the loading times moving from the open-world areas into the cities themselves are quite impressive. These locations are also filled with non-player characters with colourful and some scary stories. Treasures and secrets can be found in every cupboard, vase and chest so make sure you explore every nook and cranny that you possibly can. The variety of each location is quite rewarding. From small villages hosting nothing more than a place to rest and an item shop to a town fairly large filled with thieves, robbers and crooks. The main protagonists are easy to love, their back stories are intriguing and a good way to allow the players to become lost within their development. The hero himself unfortunately is silent, but the rest of the world and people within the world make up for that exponentially. The dungeons are also well designed, not really difficult to venture through but the right amount of puzzles and monsters to make it challenging.
In with the old, out with the new
Dragon Quest VIII has no shortage of enemies. The monsters you fight vary from demons that dance, sabertooth beasts, Imps, knights, dragons and the iconic slime. The most entertaining part of the monsters for me however is some of their names such as Mummy Boy and Dingaling. The battle system in the game is turn-based with added features in this remastered version such as speeding up the battle animations. It isn’t really revolutionary but trust me when you’re grinding those levels it is a blessing, although I did wish that the speed up feature was similar to the likes of Fire Emblem or World of Final Fantasy. This brings us to another added feature that is the full recovery of your HP and MP when you level up.
Another added feature is that there are no random encounters… well, on land anyway. This new added feature is perfect for players who would love to avoid monsters while progressing through the story a lot faster not to mention a quick save option that is now available and allows you to save at any time. Be warned though as not grinding a little may just cause physical injury to not only you but your 3DS as well. The boss battles can be a bit challenging at times or frustrating if you’re not at a decent level to take on the boss, but no puzzles have to be solved to defeat a boss, as long as your levels are decent and you know when to defend, psyche up or attack you’ll be successful. The battle system also includes the tension system which allows the player to increase his attack power by missing a turn and psyching up. Every turn that the player psyches up increases the tension, which results in a devastating attack on the enemy when released. This was key to me defeating a few bosses.
Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King definitely sits high up on my ‘must play RPG’s’ list and is a must play for all role playing fans. An open-world filled with an overwhelming number of monsters to defeat that can be avoided if need be. Cities and towns alive with peculiar NPC’s and secrets to uncover. The added feature of now being able to snap photos during the game, so that you can save and share your discoveries with friends, is a superb addition and it’s got a mesmerizing soundtrack to put the cherry on top of the delicious cake. The grinding can be off-putting yes, but be patient and the game will reward you blissfully. After all, what RPG or JRPG does not involve a bit of grinding. The only real problem I had was the loading time into battle. I’d occasionally have to wait 6 – 10 seconds before the battle could commence. However keep in mind this might just be a problem experienced on the old 3DS. A problem that many of us might not even notice. This remastered version of the eighth installment of one of Square Enix’s most popular franchises is a magnificent way to start off 2017.