Coming close to the popular Final Fantasy franchise, the Dragon Quest also have huge following in its native Japan and here in the States. Today we are going to be talking about the most highly anticipated release of Square Enix for 2005, which is Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, which takes the long lasting Dragon Quest series and for the first time ever brings the series into full 3D. So is this a smooth transition for the Dragon Quest series, or should they have stayed with what worked? Read our full review to find out!
The last Dragon Quest game was Dragon Warrior VII for the original Playstation and it was here that we saw the game take its first leap to 3D, which doesn’t yield the positive result as expected. I remember playing the game and feeling as though the series really needed a bigger step forward then what was given in Dragon Warrior VII. Then after a long hiatus, we have finally seen the return of the series here in the states in Dragon Quest VIII, which does a lot of things people never thought the series would ever do, mainly, change!
One thing you can expect from any Dragon Quest game is a solid storyline, which is really what you get in Dragon Quest VIII. A quick overview of the story is that an evil Wizard steals the really important scepter, cursing the castle where you work in the process. You’re the only one to survive, so you have to go off and save the world from evil. Sure it doesn’t sound all that original, but in the end it really is good and is something that I enjoyed.
For those that haven’t played any of the previous games, you can bet that this has some very typical RPG qualities and then does some things that are a bit different as well. The combat system in the game is very comprehensive and works extremely well. Basically it is a pretty typical turn-based system, very easy to navigate and allows for very quick commands. The combat system itself is actually very strong and can be extremely difficult, especially when going up against a lot of the boss characters in the game. With the combat system of course comes the typical RPG leveling up mechanics, and this in turn has a significant impact on the abilities that you can use and the strengths of your character.
Now so far I probably haven’t done anything to really give you a good idea of where I am going with this review. I will start right now by just stating that Dragon Quest VIII does an amazing job of taking classic RPG ideas and translating them beautifully to the Playstation 2. When you look at the game and all the traveling you have to do, you will find that the game perfectly balances the amount of time you spend traversing the terrain with battles and interactions. The game never really makes you have too much battling or too much traveling, but finds a very happy median.
To say the least, Dragon Quest VIII is not great because it offers all of these new ideas, but instead it is great because it takes all of these classic ideas and puts them to amazing use. I have to say that during the whole time I was playing the game I found myself just amazed at all the variety that can be found and some of the really intense battles that happen middle to the later portions of the game. When I look at Dragon Quest VIII, I see a game that takes a lot of great ideas puts them to great use.
What really helps the game move along smooth is not only the gameplay, but actually the absolutely beautiful work that was done to the presentation of this game. As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of the cel shading style, but there are very few games who have done cel shading as well as it was done in Dragon Quest VIII. This truly is one of the most beautiful looking RPG the console has seen, and the fact that there have already been five years of games does speak volumes for this game.
What stands out the most are the character models, which are beautifully created with great cel shading and just a wonderful sense of detail and style. To go along with the great character models are just as beautiful environments, which have such a wonderful palette of color and to have amazing detail. The game just never loses any of its presentation quality from start to finish and I must say I was extremely impressed with how well the game looked.
For fans of any turn-based RPG games or fans of the Dragon Quest series alike, you will all find yourself thoroughly enjoying the whole Dragon Quest VIII experience. This is one of those games that starts off extremely entertaining and never really misses a beat from start to finish. Sure it doesn’t really offer anything new to the genre but what it does is offer a great experience that uses the classic RPG styles and makes them feel new, and no other game has been able to accomplish something like this in the way that Dragon Quest VIII has done.
Dragon Quest VIII is hands down one of the, if not the best RPG that was released for the Playstation 2 this year. Sure this game may not be for everyone, and it may not convert the anti-RPG crowd, but fans of the genre can’t do much wrong checking Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King out! It may make the perfect gift for the holidays seasons.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.