Developer and publisher Square Enix has disappointed lately with two highly-anticipated titles that were always destined to be underwhelming: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. However, while the two aforementioned games were arguably their biggest releases and victims of over-the-top hype, Dragon Quest XI S is an equally big and grand JRPG that has succeeded in becoming the best of its genre over the past decade.
There's been a number of incredible, 10/10 calibre JRPGs in the past ten-years such as Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch (just re-released on PS4 and Nintendo Switch) and especially Persona 5. Yet, despite those two creations being esteemed masterpieces and two of Japan's best ever titles, Dragon Quest XI S is an embodiment of a near-perfect representation of Japanese role-playing games.
It's not a perfect game as there are issues such as its wonderfully enchanting soundtrack becoming more painful and obnoxious to the ears than modern pop music, but it does more things incredibly well than not.
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It's beautiful in 2D and 3D
Having played Dragon Quest XI originally on the PlayStation 4, it's incredible just how different but familiar it is in 2D Mode. Not only that, but it's also surprising how equally formidable both visual options are on the Nintendo Switch.
Dragon Quest XI obviously looks better in 3D on the PlayStation 4 as the character models and environments are crisper and more polished, but that doesn't mean it's still not a beauty on Nintendo's console. And then there's 2D Mode which is a wonderful time machine to the past.
Although the game's producer Hokuto Okamoto has said he never wants to translate 3D visuals into 16-bit gameplay ever again, the amount of headaches suffered by Square Enix employees were well worth the final result from a selfish point-of-view.
The 16-bit visuals of Dragon Quest XI S provide a rush of nostalgia for adult gamers, while also presenting a charming and captivating quality for younger gamers who have grown up with nothing but eerily realistic graphics.
Playing the game in 2D Mode is our preference thanks to us being old fogeys who believe everything was better in the olden times, but the 3D visuals are still stunning meaning players of both worlds get everything they could possibly want.
The story's all over the place but epic
One of the few hit or miss aspects of Dragon Quest XI S is just how bloody long it is. And we hate to remind you that Dragon Quest XI was already ungodly long on the PlayStation 4.
The length of the game will understandably be too much for those who don't have the time to invest or the necessary patience to see things through to the end, but for those who don't mind playing one game for numerous months it's an enjoyable epic from beginning to climax.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch arguably has one of the most emotional stories in JRPGs, meanwhile Persona 5 is perhaps the most adult with its themes and portrayals of wrongful grown-ups. With that being said, Dragon Quest XI S is a fantasy epic that has heart, emotion and just about everything.
Persona 5 becomes a bit repetitive with its exposition and the way some of the Palaces play out the same as others, whereas Dragon Quest XI S continually keeps you on your toes. There's everything from depressing mermaids and deadly art, to stories of redemption and casinos being taken over by an even more lustful and gross Jabba the Hutt.
Dragon Quest XI S is filled with dozens of unique stories that don't always have the stereotypical happy ending players would expect, and all of these memorable stories help make the campaign feel like a never-ending epic. Yes, the game is arguably too long, but when looking back on the journey it's hard to say any specific episodes should or could have been removed.
All the party members are likable
This might be insane in the eyes of some Final Fantasy, Persona and Dragon Quest fans, but there's an argument to be made for Dragon Quest XI S boasting one of the best parties when compared to any JRPG title. We love the characters of Dragon Quest XI S so much that we even enjoy the stereotypical and always expected protagonist's best mate in Erik.
Now we could understand not enjoying Veronica as the joke about her being a lady in a child's body does become tiresome and she does act too much like a child-friendly Eric Cartman. But we will not hear a bad word about Jade, Rab, a character we won't name because of spoilers, and most definitely Sylvando.
Jade has an edge that makes her so much more than just her enjoyable and well done fan service, and Rab is the most charming Scottish granddad in any video game thanks to his wisdom and perverted habits. But Sylvando is the best mate during the adventure despite the honour being bestowed upon Erik by default at the very beginning.
We can't speak for everyone in the world when it comes to Sylvando's portrayal, but from a personal perspective he's designed as an exceptional bloke who is to be admired for refusing to be nothing other than himself. Plus, while he might not be the most useful on the battlefield, he's just an insanely funny and sweet darling. Plus, did we mention he's ridiculously charming?
It's a near-perfect representation of JRPGs
One of our biggest gripes with Final Fantasy XV is that it attempted to appease old fans as well as newcomers with more of an emphasis on the latter (there's also an argument to be made that they're doing the same with their Final Fantasy VII Remake). And what we love most about Dragon Quest XI S in opposition is that it knows what it is and who it's aimed at. It's not trying to distance itself too much from its ancestors in a bid to be seen as attractive by gamers who usually wouldn't bat an eye at it.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch and Persona 5 are both incredible masterpieces in their own way, but we consider Dragon Quest XI S to be the nearest perfect embodiment of everything good related to JRPGs such as its turn-based combat, diverse world, controllable party members and convoluted menus, items and equipment.
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Some naysayers could potentially argue that Dragon Quest XI S resembles a relic from the past too much, but its 3D visuals and updated gameplay make the experience new enough while also familiar and nostalgic. Yes, its music is a pain that quickly becomes old and repetitive after a few hours, but it's a forgivable con when there are so many other pros like its second-to-none characters, story and gameplay.
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