Dragon Quest XI S: Review

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition has finally come to the Nintendo Switch, and it lives up to its new (and rather lengthy) title. This edition comes with a 2D mode previously seen in the Japan-only 3DS version, complete with new quests; an orchestral soundtrack option, a photo mode, and various quality-of-life improvements. This is still the same amazing game released in 2018 in the West, but the new content and of course the portability offered by the Nintendo Switch make this a game you can’t miss, newcomers and veterans alike.

The story is a typical JRPG epic, with three acts and various sub-arcs with unique and interesting stories. Now, this is a very long game. I took about fifty hours to complete the first two acts and twenty for the third. It’s a time-eater. Bear that in mind. But if you like your time being eaten, this is the game for you. The tale woven here is worth experiencing and focuses on themes like friendship and humanity in traditional JRPG fashion. It’s light, fantastical and whimsical, but can also be dark and sentimental in parts. This might be a disappointment to some: DQ XI does not take any risks, it’s a continuation of a perfected formula, albeit perhaps the best it has ever been. Some episodes of the story are lacking however, with plenty of fetch quests, and after a certain point it can become too cumbersome and dense that it feels like it will never end. Saying this, Act One is amazing and so is the majority of Act Two.

The gameplay is repetitive but addicting, with turn-based combat being reasonably strategic but, in my experience, only during boss fights. There are extensive skill trees and party roles for each of the characters, who are class-less, and defined by their weapon type. Overall, it’s great, but does nothing particularly differently from most other JRPGs.

The new content included in this edition expands the game greatly, especially the 2D mode, which feels like an entirely new game, and is particularly comprehensive in its recreation. The new QOL improvements include being able to craft anywhere in the world, an outfit system, and a battle speed selector, which was used without fail during my playthrough to avoid tedium.

I loved playing through this game. It is a worthy JRPG with a fantastic story and great gameplay.

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James Ward

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October 2021
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