Ever since Dragon Quest XI was announced as coming to the Nintendo Switch, I’ve been keeping an eye on the series. I’d tried the original game on iOS before, and had popped in to Builders once, but neither of those intrigued me the way that the preview for XI did, and listening to the Dragon Quest FM podcast made me curious about the legacy of the series.
In looking up all the different games in the series, I realized that I actually still had the iOS remake of DQ1 installed, so I decided to give it another go. It didn’t take long at all to remember that what pushed me away the first time was that I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Having finished the game now, a few weeks later, I can confirm that that sense of “okay, what now” does not ever go away in this game.
On top of the lack of guidance on the overworld and story, battles are a bit confusing, too. This is, from what I understand, the origin point for turn based JRPGs, but it is completely lacking in the party systems I think of as standard for the genre, meaning you are only controlling one character, who is armed with the ability to attack and cast a few different spells. It could be that I was missing a level of strategy, but it seemed to me like most of the spells were totally ineffectual, so I mostly used my sword.
Between the lack of guidance in exploration and in battle, I basically played through this game by wondering around until I found enemies I couldn’t beat in one hit, and then attacked and healed ad nauseum until I could one shot them, then I wandered a bit more.
I’m happy to be able to say that I’ve played this classic, but I can’t really say that it’s a game that holds up today.
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