Review by WishingTikal
"Transcends reality and dreams, but not without hassle"
Dragon Quest V is by far my favorite DQ game in the series. The quest was engrossing and epic, leaving a feeling in my memory that I just can't shake off. DQ IV was also unique in its own rights, but after playing through V and VI, it feels a bit less grandiose all of a sudden. The general consensus seems to be DQV > VI > IV in most cases. In theory, DQVI would seem like the best of the bunch, since it has the best premise. After all, you are a hero traveling through alternate worlds, and I was actually expecting something like A Link to the Past or even Chrono Trigger. Unfortunately, DQVI isn't quite as compelling as the aforementioned titles, and while it's a great entry in the series, it's certainly not the best, for one particular reason: the game is a little too big for its own good.
Dragon Quest VI is a very long game, perhaps the longest DQ so far. RPGs are good when they last long, but as for all good things, they have to end at some point. DQVI seems to never want to end, and while that would usually be a good thing, it doesn't quite work in this instance because DQVI lacks an interesting plot to carry out the length. It's also a huge game, with two whole world maps to explore, and I'm not talking about small maps here, but really big ones. It's about almost twice the size of previous DQ titles. It's very easy to lose focus in DQVI, and to get lost. As a result, DQVI feels very archaic compared to other RPGs on the DS. Even remakes of older RPGs didn't feel so loose and confusing.
As for most DQ games, you are playing as an unnamed hero. The hero wakes up after a strange dream where he confronts an evil archenemy, but things only get weirder and weirder from there. After a while, it becomes unclear whether this was a dream or not. Soon after, you are thrown back and forth through reality and dreams, meeting other characters on the way, who will join your party. Honestly, there is not much to the plot. All you are doing most of the game is traveling between the two worlds, trying to find clues as to what is happening, to finally defeat the evil being, down the road. None of the characters have a big impact on the storyline, and the whole reality/dreams doesn't really add anything beside being a cool plot device. As with other DQ games, you get most of the storyline's depth by talking to NPCs and using the 'party chat'.
Although I really liked going through the two alternate worlds, I was a bit disappointed by their lack of dissimilarities. The dream world and the real world look almost the same, with just a few distinctive places to visit. When switching, the shape of the world map changes, but you can find most of the same towns, with the only difference being that the villagers won't say the same things. I was told the grass was greener in the dream world, but honestly, I couldn't see it. You know, I was expecting the dream world to visually look a bit different from the real world, since it's a dream. It would have made exploring the two worlds more fresh and fun. As it is, exploring both worlds feels tedious, since they are both vast, and it just feels like re-exploring the same world just for slight changes. When I first started the game, I kept getting confused as I couldn't tell the real world apart from the dream world, until I noticed the world map's shape.
Usually, in games like this there is some type of connection between the two worlds, where if you change something in one, it will have an impact in the other world. Here, not really. There are very few instances throughout the quest where both worlds are linked in some way. It's like you are leading two distinct, separate quests, instead of one quest in two alternate worlds. If the worlds were a lot different, that would work, but since they look about the same, it's just confusing and tedious. Especially since the plot doesn't really seem to know where it's going. There are so many things going on at the same time through the two worlds that it's easy to lose focus. It's not like the game tells you what to do, or where to search either. Old-school RPGs tend to be like that, but it gets a little problematic in a big game like DQVI, with two worlds to search. Maybe I am just nitpicking, but I was really overwhelmed (in both a good and bad way) by DQVI's size and length.
The best part about DQVI is probably the vocations. Basically a class or job system, all of your characters can take up a different vocation and learn different spells. After a certain amount of battles, you will master the class, so you can switch to something else. Once you have mastered several vocations, new, more powerful ones will be available. You can spend the whole game planning ahead what your characters will be in the end, which makes it fun to grind for once. There are five party members in DQVI, with ten optional ones that you can recruit throughout the adventure. Most of them are simply slimes, however, which I'm not too fond of, although some are quite strong. I personally only used the human characters, until I got Lizzy, a powerful dragon monster. The game also holds several mini-games and sidequests, which are all pretty fun, like the slime battles, best-dressed contest, dream sharing, and as always, the countless mini medals to find and turn in for great items.
Dragon Quest VI is a little darker than previous titles (DQV and IV were both rated 10+, while this one is rated 13+), but as for other DQ games, it remains light and doesn't take itself too seriously, which is what I love about the series. The graphical style is still the same as for the other DQ remakes, so expect splashes of color everywhere, and a nice blend of 2D and 3D. The game was made before DQIX, but came out after, so expect to be less impressed this time around, but I personally prefer this style over the fully 3D one. It's the third DS game to use the same exact style, so obviously the wow factor from DQIV went down. It basically looks like DQVII on the PSOne, but more vibrant. As for the soundtrack, it's good old DQ at its best, although the tunes are really over-used in this game, considering the size of the adventure. There should have been more different tracks for the two worlds.
Like its predecessors, DQVI is a great game, with well over 40 hours of gameplay. It's the longest, biggest DQ among the first six, but not necessarily the best. The connection between the real world and the dream world is weak, and the differences add little to the game. It's a shame, because the concept was promising. The rediscovery of a same area in another world is something fun, but in DQVI, there is no sense of rediscovery, since everything looks the same. I applaud the game for being this vast and lengthy, but it does really feel confusing at first, and may throw some players off. However, I know DQ fans will probably love this entry, particularly because of the class system and all the optional stuff. There is so much to explore, and in double at that. I'm not sure I would replay through it a second time as once was enough, which is a shame, considering I would gladly replay through DQV and IV... still a grand adventure though. Too grand for the simple plot maybe.
Replay Value 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 04/07/11, Updated 07/14/11
Game Release: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (US, 02/14/11)
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