The long-awaited Final Edition of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of a Lost Era has finally landed on Nintendo Switch. The JRPG, which was able to agree with the public and critics last year when it was released for PS4 and PC, is presented in this new version for the hybrid of Nintendo, bringing with it many new ones feature and improvements, which make this re-edition of the game a real one exclusive right for Switch, and not a simple one porting from other platforms.
Traveling to Yggdrasil
Starting with a brief introduction on the narrative plot, it is necessary to immediately recognize and appreciate the masterful work of Yuji Horii on plot of this eleventh chapter of the Dragon Quest brand. Although in fact the deep stories have never been a strong point of the JRPG saga, it is storytelling and the rhythm with which the events are presented to the player are managed in an excellent manner during all the points of the adventure, with unexpected twists and almost touching moments.
Our protagonist is a reincarnation of the Shiny, the legendary hero capable of opposing the forces of darkness, and which manifests itself precisely when the world of Erdrea he is more threatened by the Shadows. This, however, leads the inhabitants of the various kingdoms to see the bearer of the mark of the Lucent as a harbinger of misfortune, who thus becomes sought after and marginalized.
Horii manages to present a story in some respects also more mature compared to the past of the brand, in which our protagonist sees all his certainties waver before him and all those he loves disappear, without however renouncing to that pinch of light-heartedness and lightness always present in the Dragon Quest. The only ones on whom the Lucente can rely are therefore the few ramshackle individuals who become our companions, and who still have confidence in the forces of good. It is a colorful group that for one reason or another decides to accompany the hero through a thousand ups and downs up to Yggdrasil, the tree of the world, with which the protagonist has a special connection.
Although secondary characters are often introduced without too much background information or explanations about their past, leaving the player with a thousand questions regarding our fellow adventurers, the Nintendo Switch Final Edition compensates for this "deficiency" in the other versions of the game. Proceeding in history, it is in fact possible to unblock some secondary missions, in which the focus is on the various members of the group, showing us what led them to join the epic of Lucente.
The Art Direction and the Technical Section
Despite the character's design Akira Toriyama may not like it for the often criticized excessive simplicity of the characters, the cartoonish style goes perfectly with the world of Erdrea. The various locations to be explored in the game world offer breathtaking views all to be admired, and the areas to visit are all extremely different and recognizable.
There was a lot of skepticism about the game before the online game was released stability of the Nintendo Switch hardware title, but Square Enix has once again demonstrated that the hybrid of the big N is not a B Series console. optimization it was almost perfect, and the game is a great little miracle both in portable and in docked mode. Obviously the developers had to make compromises, especially with regards to dynamic shadows, shaders and resolution (especially in portable), but Dragon Quest XI makes its great figure at a technical level even with something less on the graphics department than the other versions . If something has been removed graphically, the same cannot be said of audio compartment. The title is a real feast for the ears, thanks above all to the addition of the songs played by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The symphonic pieces are in fact exclusive to this Final Edition, while on the other platforms the soundtrack is simply composed of MIDI tracks.
The frame rate is firmly anchored to 30fps, but they also come to 60 during cutscenes or in 2D mode. The only visible frame drops that I found are present as soon as you enter a big city or when you load a rescue, nothing however that could negatively affect the experience in any way.
A shift system that never gets old
The true essence of a JRPG is known, is the turn-based combat, and Dragon Quest XI succeeds in successfully repeating this classic combat system but with some precautions able to modernize what some would label as an old system. The fights can indeed be speeded right away, both from the main menu and from the battle menu, in order to make the grinding less difficult even for those not accustomed to gender. The title also offers the possibility to move our protagonist during the fight, instead of having the classic JRPG fixed camera. However, our position has no influence either on the flow of the battle or on the attacks, but instead allows us to take some beautiful screenshots, thanks also to the photographic mode in game. Another one "Quality of life feature" very useful introduced in this Final Edition is the one that allows us to set one tactics for the various party members, a bit like the system did Gambit in Final Fantasy XII. This way you can conduct battles in mode automatic pilot, feature that is quite useful when you find yourself in scenarios full of enemies to defeat, or indeed, when you have to farm to level up.
Obviously the automatic Tactics are inadvisable to use against Bosses, the only real tough enemies of the game. Dragon Quest XI is indeed often also too easy: unless you get up against some special monsters without preparation, it rarely happens that a character goes KO, let alone the whole party. Although the challenge level is relatively low, the developers also wanted to think of the more hardcore JRPG players, allowing, when starting a new game, to set up some penalties to artificially increase the difficulty, such as the impossibility of buy items from various merchants. Despite everything, the character growth system is satisfactory, with the various ones checkerboard and specializations in which to spend the points earned at Level Up, which can be completely redistributed whenever we visit the save points scattered around the game world.
The most interesting function in the Dragon Quest XI S combat system is undoubtedly the one regarding i perky powers. After making (or receiving) a lot of damage, each character can enter mode pimpante, a sort of berserker mode in which all our statistics have increased. If multiple characters are perky together, you also activate the possibility of using a perky power, a powerful combined attack that in addition to inflicting serious damage to the target also causes passive bonuses, depending on the combination of characters that perform it.
The elusive 2D mode
Another of the exclusive features of the Nintendo Switch version of Dragon Quest XI S is the possibility to play all the adventure in 2D mode. The style in 16 bit It is undoubtedly a blow to the heart for all longstanding JRPG classic fans, and being able to play a modern title in this alternative mode is certainly an asset. However it is not all that glitters is gold, and although it winks at the nostalgia factor, the 2D mode has not been better managed. In short, to switch from 3D to 2D and vice versa, you need to go to a save point, but once you switch modes, the game forces us to replay the whole chapter in progress all over again, keeping all the objects and the experience points, but forcing us to repeat all that we have already traveled. Obviously, if we decide to go back to 3D the same thing happens, and the only "efficient" way to enjoy both modes is to play a chapter in 2D, then alternate one in 3D, and so on.
Fortunately, in the game there are zones (which you won't spoil) that the title confronts us necessarily in 2D mode: these don't force us to strange rescues or reset of chapters, and are probably the most successful sections in the pixel art style, since they allow you to fully enjoy the retro charm, but without affecting the modern experience.
Finally, the Final Edition di Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of a Lost Era, despite the intricacy of the 2D mode, is a jewel that all Nintendo Switch owners cannot escape. Whether you're an old-fashioned JRPG lover, or you've never approached the genre, this title has something to offer you. Square Enix has also made a real one miracle managing to carry this title on the Nintendo Switch hardware, also adding more 30 hours of content to a game that already already exceeds the 100 of hours required for completion. Last, but not least, in this version of the game Square has finally added the high-demand too dubbing in Japanese, great absent on the previous iterations of Dragon Quest XI.