Most reviews of Dragon Quest VII (a.k.a. Dragon Warrior VII) focus on the unimpressive visuals or the outdated and tedious command system. I would be willing to wipe that slate clean if it wasn’t for the many other grievances this game has caused me. In fact, for the most part, the game-play doesn’t bother me. It’s familiar, it’s classic, it works. Some may find it time-consuming, but if you’ve played Dragon Quest before, you know how it works.
However, I feel one of the biggest mistakes of the game is the pacing. There’s roughly 80 – 120 hours of game-play (keep in mind; this is supposed to be a selling point). The only problem with this is that if the game was paced correctly, it wouldn’t take you that long.
Each boss battle gets exponentially harder (only a slight exaggeration I’m afraid), and leveling your characters doesn’t get any quicker or easier as you progress. The result, naturally, is that you spend more time in battle before each upcoming boss fight.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The EXP (experience points) you can earn from random encounters only increases marginally even as you fight increasingly harder monsters. A NORMAL metal slime gives you more experience than your average group of dungeon dwellers in the latter part of the game.
I can’t imagine how much time it would take to reach the max level but I’m guessing 100 hours too many! If you don’t believe me, compare DQ VII to the wonderful remake of DQ III. Saving is fast, walking through dungeons is a breeze, and leveling doesn’t feel laborious either. Why the developers chose to abandon the fast, well-paced, well-developed system of DQ III is beyond me.
The Dragon Quest series may never have been at the cutting edge of creativity, but imagination is something that DQ VII is lacking almost entirely. There are a lot of things I could talk about in this area, but among them the Sky Rock has to take the cake. I seriously thought it was a joke when I came across it. What, no dragons? No flying castles? Look, I know they’ve played those cards before, but it would’ve been better than an AIRBORNE PEBBLE! That’s the BEST they could come up with?
I’m not even sure what to say about the monster park side quest. Perhaps I haven’t put enough time into it to reap the rewards, but collecting monsters for the privilege of talking to them? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? They don’t help you in battle, there aren’t any immediate rewards for collecting them, and in most cases you have to fight the monster dozens of times before you have the choice of sending them to the park. And the developers thought that this would be fun? The only thing it does is that it sort of keeps you occupied while you’re fighting endless battles to level up.
For some reason the developers also decided to place time-consuming puzzles at the very beginning of the game. For an avid DQ player the puzzles aren’t overly challenging, but for the average gamer they could be quite frustrating. I can’t stress this enough; these puzzles take place before your first battle. Before you even encounter your first slime! This is a monumental and unwelcome change from predecessors in the DQ series.
All in all, DQ VII is a game that filled you with fear, terror, anger and frustration. There were rarely any happy, positive or hopeful moments in the game. It was like a nightmare that just wouldn’t end. The storyline was poor and mostly non-existent. Many DQ fans were upset about DQ VI but I thought it was a fun game, and I would take it any day over DQ VII.
Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself.