Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Dragon Quest is a top series in Japan, with so much success that there’s an official banning to have a new game to be released during the week due to the fact that autorities are scared that too many people would stay away from work or school to get it! Over here, these RPG’s aren’t really known, but this 8th, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, for the first time in 3D, has undoubtedly changed that. Why? Read on.
DQ8 is quite a classic RPG but the story starts promising. A king and princess have been changed into a giant toad and a horse by an evil magician. Only you, together with this comic duo and your friend Yangus, can now go look for the bastard and get things undone. Quickly you’ll meet Angelo, a knight, and Jessica, a girl with magic powers, to add to your team. You won’t be able to add more people to the squad and the game therefore has a lot of attention towards the development of the characters (personality, background, strengths and weaknesses) and of course the storyline that’s beautiful and exciting.
Another important part of any RPG are of course the fights. Unfortunately the (not so frequent) random encounters aren’t avoidable, but luckily the turn-based system is more than pleasant. You’ve got the usual amount of melee and magical attacks, party and group effects and also concentrated and special combos are present. Many, especially the most fun, are unlocked by adding experience points to the different weapon skills (like swords or spears) and unique skills that are only accessible to certain characters.
What mostly gets noticed in the fights are the charms of them, and especially those of the opponents. Their personality is each time shown in a very funny way during battle. Ghost stand around glazing in front of them a bit while cats suddenly start to lick themselves in between attacks. Very amusing and it’s these little things that make DQ8 so typical and charming. But don’t be fooled as the difficulty degree is pretty hard and your opponents will use a lot of different tactics to make you eat dust. Luckily you can use a magic spell to have you sent back to a savepoint immediately or to escape from a dungeon. If you do die you can cough up half your gold and start back from your last save.
As said, one of the strong points of the game is its charm and creativity. Also in the visuals this is more than present. Not only does everything look technically very beautiful but also on artistic level it’s clear a lot of time and inspiration has gone into the design. Gorgeous animations, a lot of variation and inspiration in the design of the characters and opponents, and surroundings that perfectly fit. Prepare for fairylike woods and plains, rivers and oceans, and of course caves and dungeons. Everything is added with a vivid and orchestral soundtrack and acting that makes listening to the cut-scenes very enjoyable. Impressive!
Also impressive is the amount of gameplay hours (count 50 to 60 to finish the game) and then I’m not even counting the time you “loose” by taking on all sorts of side-quests and extras for the fans like collecting medals and making items.
Dragon Quest VIII brings a very welcome charming, fun and relaxed side to the RPG genre without adding much innovation. The visuals, characters and storyline are great and added with the many fun and well worked out fights this is a game that any RPG-lover should try. Don’t expect shocking innovations but lots of hours of good-old fun. And that’s exactly what a lot of other games lack!