Dragon Quest VII: Eden no Senshitachi (Warriors of Eden) is an enhanced port of the original Dragon Warrior VII released back in 2001. It is well known for being one of the longest RPGs out there, filled with massive amounts of sub-plots and optional side content. A typical playthrough of Dragon Warrior VII can easily take over 100 hours (though thankfully this port has condensed things a great deal, while managing to take nothing away from the original experience).
The plot of Dragon Quest VII is a unique and interesting one. You take the role of a fisherman’s son, who lives with his family in the port town of Fishbel (located on a small island consisting of the town itself, the castle of Estard, and some ancient ruins). The mysterious thing is that this seems to be the only island in the entire world, as proven by the many fishing trips your father takes out to sea. However, before long, you and your friends discover a secret to the ruins; you find yourself in a chamber full of pedestals that seem to have incomplete maps on them… Upon placing a map shard and completing one of the pedestals you are transported to an unknown island in the past, and saving that land restores its presence in the present. So begins your massive quest in unsealing the islands and continents of the past, work out why and how this happened, and perhaps figure out why your home island was the only place to avoid such a fate.
In terms of narrative structure it is rather linear, albeit without feeling so. While you’re unsealing each land you will almost always follow the route of finding map shards, fitting said shards into a pedestal, going to the past to avert the crisis of that land, exploring that land in the present to find more shards, then rinse, repeat. That said, I believe at one point in the game, you gather enough shards to unlock three pedestals at once, giving you a bit more freedom in choosing the order in which to tackle the areas in.
If you’ve played the original game you will remember that the first two hours of the game involves nothing but speaking to citizens and solving puzzles. Two hours before any combat even happens. You’ll be pleased to know that in this version of the game the long and somewhat tedious puzzle-solving section of the ruins have been heavily cut down, effectively cutting the length of the beginning by half.
Speaking of changes ; the game is no longer viewed from an overhead perspective. Whilst exploring the camera is more zoomed in on your character models, which is a double-edged sword in terms of design because, while it does give you a better look at the character models and the environment, it feels rather claustrophobic in certain areas. Sometimes you want nothing more than an option to pull the camera out a bit to get a better look at your surroundings without having to hold down the shoulder buttons to swing the camera around to see where you are going. Fortunately there is a helpful overhead map on the touch screen to help you navigate your way through the various dungeons in this humongous game.
One minor gripe I have with the game is that in order to maintain the graphics at a consistent frame rate, there is a noticeable rendering distance when exploring the overworld. For example you will see trees pop into existence not too far ahead of you, and likewise will see trees disappear behind you if you happen to have the camera pointed in that direction. It isn’t too distracting but I completely understand if it puts some players off.
One helpful addition to the game to prevent needless backtracking is the shard radar located at the top-left of the touch screen. This helpful icon lights up and flashes intensely whenever there is a map shard located nearby (in case you’ve missed it, shards are needed to progress in the story as they are essential in unlocking the next area).
Random battles have been replaced by on-screen enemy encounters, which you initiate by touching them. For me this a huge plus as I dislike random battles of any nature (although this can get slightly annoying when exploring a dungeon and a monster just spawns in right in front of you). Overall, as with any RPG, battles are ultimately never a bad thing as you will need all the EXP and gold in order to survive.
I have found that the overall difficulty of the game has been reduced slightly to make the game more accessible to new players. I rarely ever found myself in danger of a Game Over in this game, and I found myself breezing through battles that I remember giving me trouble in the original version without much grinding. What I do know for sure is that the class system has been tweaked. Upon reaching the Dharma Temple area, the player will unlock classes for each character. Unlike the original version ; every character will change in appearance depending on their current class. Once a certain number of battles had been participated in the character will rank up in their class, and once they reach eight stars they will have mastered that class (each rank up provides skills and each class has a unique passive ability). Mastering certain class combinations unlocks advanced classes which are incredibly powerful and require more battles to master. Knowing which classes to go for with each character and eventually building them up to become a powerhouse is incredibly rewarding, not to mention that it takes less time in this version of the game.
All in all, Dragon Quest VII is a fantastic port, packed with huge amounts of content and side content. There’s the Immigrant Town, which has been tweaked from the original, there’s Monster Park, there’s Tiny Medal hunting, there’s DLC dungeons, and of course, casinos for those who want to test their luck. In total, it took me around 65 hours to complete this game and a further 10 to finish all the side content. For a handheld JRPG to keep me hooked for this long, it would be foolish not to recommend to any RPG enthusiast.
Nintendo’s Official Home for Dragon Quest : http://dragonquest.nintendo.com/