Dragon Quest VIII - Reader Review  

Dragonian Masterpiece
by Elbowz211



Rating definitions 

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, starts out in a rather unorthodox fashion. Instead of having an RPG where you are put in the role of the main character and then and event triggers a story line and journey to follow, DQ8 kicks it off with the player already in the midst of the main quest. Hot on the tail of Dhoulmagus, an evil mage who cursed King Trodain and his daughter, you will experience the story as it happens, while also learning what has transpired before you picked up with the journey. This game scores high in nearly every aspect, and is one of the better crafted masterpieces of this era of gaming.

The battle system in DQ8 is quite lovely; it’s both useful and entertaining while retaining much of the traditional turn-based simplicity of its older siblings. You input all characters’ commands at one time, and then you watch the mayhem unfold for one turn and repeat. Along with the normal commands, characters now have an ability called ‘Psyche Up’, which acts as an adrenaline boost basically. Build it up for a few turns, and you can pack one heck of a punch. Leveling and gaining skills and abilities is traditional SquareEnix fashion; you get exp from killing enemies, and you level up as you do. You also get to level up weapon and character skills at level ups, which allow the characters to learn special, powerful attacks and skills.

The interface and interaction with the game is definitely a strong point in its foundation. It works very logically and simply; it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Perhaps the most annoying facet of it is that the circle button both acts as a menu open button and an action/activate button, so traditional Final Fantasy fans may find themselves accidentally using items or spells for a while when habitually trying to cancel with the circle button. Also, there is no way to customize the layout, so you are stuck with what you’ve got. The other thing to take note of is the limited inventory of each character. While your team can carry unlimited items, each person only has a small number of slots, so one must be careful when re-equipping a character to not lose items they do not wish to. But everything else in DQ8 flows smoothly, with no real blemishes that take away from the experience.

_____ a doodle doo _____ a doodle doo

Moving from the interface, I feel it necessary to discuss the visuals and graphics of the game. This game does not boast the immense, lifelike CG scenes that have been building an avalanche of popularity by game-makers and fans alike, but rather employs an artistic and tasteful lifelike cartoon element to the genre. The models and graphics were intended to look a bit old school, and it was a nice journey to tag along with. Many of today’s gamers feel a little cheated when the graphics don’t seem to match the technological capabilities of our current generation. However, SE has done such a crafty job of utilizing the artistic elements to create a sensation that hardly a gamer shall even notice once they get the ball rolling.

Another nicely done aspect is the music and sound that empowers and embellishes the game experience from the moment you start it up. Everything from the sounds of battle to the orchestrated ballads that caress the plot has been incorporated to sculpt DQ8 in to a wondrous experience. In fact, the only real downside is the fact that every character has a voice dialogue except for the main character. Even the English voice work was crafted beautifully, although it was done in the UK and the characters have a distinct British accent and use some of the Jargon of that region as well. As a result, the gamer will have to take some of what is said in context to understand all the words used if they are not from the UK.

And my complexion just glistens And my complexion just glistens

The compelling story of DQ8 was one of the more captivating SE has come up with lately. It had just the right mix of originality, simplicity, and complex twists and turns to keep the gamer enthralled without getting worn out. And while many of the game’s aspects have a hint of Final Fantasy influence, the system has been molded enough to come across as largely original and vastly entertaining. Each time a character levels you’ll be excited to skill them up and see what new skills they get, practically frothing at the mouth for the next level.

The challenge level of DQ8 seems to be largely proportional to how much you level and equip your characters. If you have everyone maxed out with everything, the game will be a breeze. But even then, if you truly go into and experience the nuances of this title, it could take 50-70 hours to complete.

All in all, any RPG fan would be hard pressed to find a way to not enjoy Dragon Quest 8 at least a little bit. The game is a solid package of a wonderful story woven into great story-enhancing elements that really get the player involved with the plot and feeling the emotions of the characters involved. It may not be a favorite for everyone, but my hat’s off to you SE for a game well made.

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