Beloved by role-playing game fans around the world,Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Brideis the second installment in theDragon Quest, Zenithia Trilogy and has finally made its way to North America. Follow a journey that crosses three generations … see full wiki
As someone who wishes that plots in video games remain minimalistic and out of the way, I can say that I would gladly reverse my preference if only more stories impressed me like Dragon Quest V did. From its charming childhood, through perilous and progressive adulthood, to a proud and coalesced parenthood does Dragon Quest V tell the lifelong story of a lifetime. It's touching quality comes from just how almost any player (unless you aren't human or something) can relate to the journey which our hero takes, as we feel powerless yet attune to the fantastic visible yet normally unseen world presented to our view as a child. Or as we feel uneasy eagerness to tackling our goals as an adult even following tragedy, and as we take a new-found responsibility in nurturing the promising potential of our lovable children.
Of course, as in life, there's those monsters we choose to befriend along the way. As predictable and even as sometimes intimidating as they may be, the game plays on the natural human instinct we all have to make friends with others even if we start out leaving not the best of impressions (like, say, a beatdown). Dragon Quest V gives us this experience by allowing players to recruit monsters when a felled one may occasionally offer to join after a battle. They may come off as quirky substitutes for humans, or seem like an ensemble of killer pets, but they oddly feel like family which is not too unusual considering how the majority of humans who accompany the hero are practically family (if not, really close friends). I can certainly say I always feel very hesitant in dropping the Slime Knight from my traveling party in the latter phase of the game, even though he's already outclassed by the last batch of recruited monsters, due to the fact that he's been one of family to me since I've befriended him since the game first allowed monster recruitment. It's possible enough to say that the hero's natural ability to bond with monsters can be reflective of the player's own natural personality.
Largely, there's the very human element to the story which holds the spotlight in Dragon Quest V. As monster recruiting became a groundbreaking feature for this installment in the series, so does the generations-spanning plot which propels players on a journey to find a legendary hero only capable of utilizing a set of legendary equipment and defeating a slowly encroaching sinister force. It is through this search that the player character will form the strongest of bonds with the human party members, especially thanks to the party chat ability which did not find itself left on the other side of the pacific like Dragon Quest IV had. Always entertaining and always insightful, it becomes a necessity to converse with the other human partners to uncover what motivates their need to assist the hero, and it helps in strengthening their character even in the most minor of topics which are brought up. The asides found in party chat will make anyone feel a variety of feelings from morose to proud and some are bound to make the gruffest of players crack a smile, with that in mind it is with great thankfulness that Square Enix decided not to discard this anthology of windows into the soul of the game's story.
With the plot out of the way, yes there is a Dragon Quest-y game in there. The usual expectations and standards are present, though this will feel like one of the easiest game in the franchise as I found my party wiped out only but a few times. This game can be finished a little quicker than expected, so long as certain distractions can be avoided such as the TnT boards and the casino games, and the opportunity to revisit the game can become very tempting. The game can also offer unique playthroughs thanks to a choice of one of three brides to pair with the hero, each of whom brings different abilities to the fight and offers their own personality most noticeably in the party chat musings. Also worth bringing up is how intelligently laid out the environments are, with the combined dual screens allowing the player to see ahead in dungeon paths and with the rotating camera aiding in revealing a number of things to discover - a pleasant reminder of how it's not often enough that games don't offer that refreshing feeling to want to actually look forward to taking an additional role of cameraman. Another strong trait of note is in Koichi Sugiyama's score, a robust combo of Romanticist and Stravinsky-like styling which takes its time building up a sweeping or tense effect to linger welcomely even when the game is not being played (though the standard castle theme can get annoying).
In the grand view of things, Dragon Quest V is one those games that anyone even the slightest bit interested in RPGs should experience or at least engrave on their bucket list in the meanwhile. Like many a classic novel, Dragon Quest V holds itself as accessible to those intrigued enough and yet also as a herald of firsts and feelings which can build in the foundation of where ever the future of the video game format as a storytelling medium goes from V's birth and from this this point in time.
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