Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age S – Definitive Edition Review
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age is one of my favorite games of all-time. If it wasn’t for Persona 5, I would say it is the best RPG of this past console generation. It has a magic that transcends its very few flaws, and makes it truly something special. If you’re wondering whether or not to play it, the answer is “yes”, it will sate your curiosity. But this isn’t just the original game, it’s the S Definitive Edition, so if you’re wondering if you should get this version if you have the original, the answer is “yes” and this review will cover all the incredible bonus content. If you’re wondering whether or not you should get this version if you already have the Switch version, the answer, however, is “probably not”, because the only extra you are going to get is trophy support.
Dragon Quest XI’s bones are as traditional of a JRPG as one can experience in this day and age. But its formula is something that has been tempered over time to perfection. Some of the game’s features may seem archaic to modern players, but all of them call back to series roots. For example, the game could only be saved at churches in past NES Dragon Quest titles, and in Dragon Quest XI, the church serves as a hub to toggle options like the 3D/ 2D style or Draconian Quest options (more on those in a bit). But for every throwback there is an innovation, like the field enemies appearing in real time, despite the combat being turn-based.
The review guidelines for Dragon Quest XI S recommends that the reviewer “allocate around 100 hours to enjoy the full breadth of the story”. Was that ever true! Without giving away spoilers, just when you think this game is finished it pulls you back in! The end game of Dragon Quest XI is massive, and playing the game for a few hours doesn’t properly showcase its magical qualities. It’s a shame I have to be vague about this, but expect an epic, long story full of twists. Expect to explore a beautiful fantasy world full of charm.
There are a lot of new features in this S Definitive Edition of Dragon Quest XI. The big one is that the ENTIRE GAME can be played as a 2D, fully turn-based, completely remade, 16-bit looking, traditional Dragon Quest version. This could have been sold as a separate fully priced game on its own and it would have been worth a purchase. This is not just a simple change in graphics-style; the entirety of the gameplay is different. And for a longtime fan of the franchise like myself, this option warranted a second 100-hour playthrough.
Other features include the new Draconian Quest option, which allows the player to set restrictions on themselves, such as only being able to use items from chests/monsters, extra strong enemies, protagonist death equals party death, etc. There is a list of settings like these which can be toggled on/off at churches. There is a new side quest area called Tickington, where areas from the prior 10 Dragon Quest titles can be explored, and are reimagined in XI’s 2D style. There are new side quests to flesh out the backstories of the Hero’s companions. There’s a Photo Mode where game images can be taken and edited. More monster types can be ridden. Little tweaks and quality of life changes have been made everywhere.
Graphics, unfortunately, took a slight hit. I didn’t notice any difference on my HD TV and regular PlayStation 4, but this is a port of the Switch version, so there might be a slight downgrade for PS4 Pro/4K TV users. But I didn’t notice a difference. Dragon Quest XI features a beautiful cell-shaded style that complements Akira Toriyama’s character and monster art perfectly. It’s a gorgeous game. Photo Mode was included for a reason.
There have also been changes to Dragon Quest XI’s audio, and all for the better. The Dragon Quest franchise is known for its classic musical themes, and the score of XI wreaks of quality. In this Definitive version, the score is now fully orchestrated. The English voice acting is excellent, and now there is an option to Switch to Japanese language.
No, Dragon Quest XI S is not technically perfect. It has Switch graphics, is a little on the easy side, and isn’t going to convert any non-JRPG fans. But it is a game that shines so brightly! The story, visuals, music, and gameplay come together to create an unforgettable experience. This is one of the games I will always have a physical copy of and will revisit every few years for the rest of my life.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- 100 hour story
- 3D and 2D modes
- Phenomenal end game content
- Has Switch graphics
- Too easy
- Won’t convert non-JRPG fans