How Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age take us to a classic yet fantastical world
By Paulo Kawanishi, Contributor
You play as the Luminary, the chosen hero, who—alongside a group of friends—must defeat the evil that is about to take over the world. But the game has a lot to offer besides leveling up characters and finding new and powerful pieces of equipment.
This story has a legendary sword, floating islands, a magical tree, and a prophecy. Although quite common in many fantasy stories, Dragon Quest XI introduces these elements in a novel and innocent way, which makes them work well. At the same time, these common symbols of fantasy settings give the game a clear and honest identity, connecting it to classic stories I would read about or see in Saturday morning cartoons.
Dragon Quest XI is capable of making standard fantasy fare feel new and intriguing. I had already seen my fair share of magical trees before I played this game. The same goes for a whole city frozen with a single survivor, and an underwater city that very few people know about. By using the right approach and a design that balances functionality and identity, every place in Dragon Quest XI feels exciting.
In this world, we find characters and enemies that add an innocent, fun, and yet adventure-like feeling to the game. Each character has a background that seems as extraordinary as the journey they face. These personalities shine equally in big emotional sequences and less dramatic situations, like funny small-talk around a bonfire.
On the other hand, the enemies are goofy and silly, which lightens the mood of the game. When the first slime attacks the protagonist, it’s difficult to hide your smile, because it's actually quite cute. In addition to that, Dragon Quest XI leans into its fantastical roots throughout the game. For example, a robot crafted by an evil wizard protects one of its dungeon, and the game doesn't treat this as out of the ordinary.
Simplicity doesn’t mean that a story is always predictable. Because Dragon Quest heavily features these classic JRPG tropes, it’s easy to assume we know what’s going to happen. As players, we learn pretty soon that the main character is special and that something is threatening the world. However, if you pay attention, it’s possible to see that Dragon Quest XI leaves behind a bread-crumb trail of elements from its opening minutes that converges into a very surprising end.
By giving enough attention to all these elements to make them feel fresh and exciting—familiar and yet fantastical—Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age creates a memorable adventure.