What a game Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is. Just when you think it's over, there's another 50 hours left. Then maybe another 50. But somehow, throughout all that time, it still manages to keep you on your toes. Its overall plot may be cliche, but the way that it's told and the many twists that it conjures deserve a huge amount of praise.
Charm and character are key to the Dragon Quest series, and Dragon Quest XI has both in abundance. It's hard not to fall in love with its colourful world and excellent cast, and there are so many memorable moments peppered throughout its story. Put simply, the game's an absolute delight to be a part of.
Admittedly, Dragon Quest hasn't changed all that much in 30 years. It's gotten a lot prettier, sure, but the core gameplay structure of the series has barely budged. You don't fix what isn't broken, though, and because of that, Dragon Quest XI is decidedly old school in how it approaches combat and exploration.
Its turn based bouts may be methodical, but with flashy attack effects and some phenomenal enemy designs, grinding feels great. Likewise, creeping through a dangerous dungeon or trekking across a vast stretch of countryside give a real sense of adventure -- something that's often sorely lacking in many of today's cookie-cutter open world titles.
There's an overarching sense of wonder to Dragon Quest XI that sells the game better than anything else. Certain plot points wow time and time again with how surprisingly extravagant they are, and events are portrayed in such a way that you can't help but want to see what awaits the party around the next corner.
And as if the base journey wasn't enough, Dragon Quest XI's endgame is, dare we say it, one of the best, most fleshed-out post-credit campaigns we've ever had the pleasure of playing. Without spoiling anything, the whole scenario offers up something that most titles would save for an expansion or even a sequel, so the fact that it's just there, waiting for you after the credits is, in this age of gaming, quite incredible.
But that's really Dragon Quest XI in a nutshell. For three decades, Square Enix's franchise has stood still while the world has moved around it, but in doing so, it now feels more unique than ever. This is a tried and tested formula refined to near Japanese RPG perfection.
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Are you a big Dragon Quest fan? Where does Dragon Quest XI rank among the series' best entries? Set off on a grand adventure in the comments section below.