When I first started this mini Dragon Quest marathon, I was expecting to play some mildly dated, yet enjoyable games. I was expecting to see the evolution of the JRPG happen in real time and appreciate them as milestones for the genre.
What I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with one particular game.
Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation is the third game is the franchise and is an evolution of the previous two in nearly every conceivable way. Everything from the visuals, the set pieces, the gameplay, and even the writing is improved upon and while it has the odd difficulty spike every now and then it doesn’t detract from the experience in the slightest. This game is just unbelievable.
Dragon Quest III tells the story of a young hero who must set out on a journey to defeat a horrible villain known as the Archfend and his father, the mighty Ortega, appears to have been slain during his own attempt to stop him. Armed with his fathers legacy and 3 other heroes, the hero sets out to defeat the villain and restore order to the world. While it appears a tad basic, Dragon Quest III does so much more with its story than the first two games in the series. There are far more cutscenes and side stories to help the world feel much more alive. I would talk more about the story because it’s absolutely phenomenal but I’ll save that for its own spoiler-filled section because there’s so much I want to say. Just know that for such a simple looking jRPG it does so much with what it has.
The gameplay of Dragon Quest III remains relatively the same as the first two but with even more options for offense and defense. While nothing mind blowing it still offers a satisfying turn-based system that only really gets old when you’re grinding which isn’t a whole lot this time around, thank god. My only problem is that the turns always felt a bit inconsistent as no matter how high my characters agility was lower leveled monsters could still go ahead of me….though that could be attributed to me not really knowing how the turns are supposed to work. Yeah heavy stat based combat isn’t exactly my area of expertise, sorry. All I know is that the game is super fun to play and a great evolution of what the first two games started. Now one thing I was able to fully appreciate was the introduction of the class system. Each party member starts out with one class with their own abilities but around the halfway point you unlock to ability to change the class of each of your party outside of the player character. This adds so much more depth to combat because now you can have a cleric with the speed proficiency of a martial artist, or a soldier with the magical abilities of a mage. The main drawback is that the party member goes back to being level 1 but with the high encounter rate in this game, it really isn’t that big of a deal. World traversal is also greatly improved upon because it’s MUcH easier to figure out where you’re supposed to go due to the world design and the clearer and well written script. Overall playing this game was an absolute joy from start to finish.
One thing I want to briefly touch upon is the overall presentation because it really made me smile. Even though Dragon Quest III uses the same visual style as 1 and 2, it does so much more with what it has. Spells have much more visual flair and each physical attack carries weight whenever an animation is played. The enemy sprites this time around are also more detailed (though unmoving in the iOS port) and features a much larger bestiary of creatures to fight. Cutscenes are improved as well since this game actually has them. Each cutscene helps build the story more and more and it’s just wonderful. Now with the music…oh GOD. OH GOD. LOOK I KNOW IT’S MIDI SO IT ISN’T GREAT BUT I DON’T CARE THE MUSIC IN DRAGON QUEST III IS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS.
Dragon Quest III is near perfection in every sense. The gameplay is absolutely sublime, the class system brings some much needed depth, the music is stunning, and it’s much more fun to get lost in its world. I can not recommend this game enough to those who haven’t played it. If you’re a fan of JRPG’s or are just looking for a fun experience, Dragon Quest III is an absolute must play. Even though I’ve sung so many praises for this game..there’s one thing I haven’t touch on yet. Its story. It’s because I can’t talk about the story without spoiling it. I just can’t.
Of all the things that I thought Dragon Quest III was going to impress me with, the story was not the thing I was expecting to resonate with me the most. From the moment it begins the game takes you on a journey that shows you action, comedy, tragedy, triumph, and personal growth. The fact that the game opens with you taking a small quiz and making a difficult choice right out of the GATE to determine your initial personality had me salivating and excited. It should be noted that in the SNES version the game opens with what Ortega did at the beginning of the game so I unfortunately missed that since I played the iOS port but THAT’S LIFE. After you get into the world and talk to the villagers that live in it you get shown all kinds of stories and they have the ability to elicit so many different types of emotion. One of my favorite towns in the game was the town of Tedaki, a town ravaged by the Archfiend. There isn’t a soul to be seen in this place and you can find various shops run down and destroyed…but once you arrive there at night things change. Suddenly the town is bustling with villagers living their lives as if nothing happened, almost as if they were never attacked. It’s incredibly haunting but it’s a great reminder of the weight your quest has and how you can’t something like this happen to anyone else. After finally defeating Archfiend and returning to your home, the game performs a false ending and presents the games true villain, Zoma. Traveling to face Zoma brings you to a new, yet familiar place. The land of Alefgard. This is such an awesome reveal because the story progression follows the exact same travel beats as the first Dragon Quest game.During this entire journey it’s just scene after scene of great reveals and revelations, including the fact that Ortega is alive and trying to storm Zoma’s castle. Once you get there and find him you witness a battle between him and a hydra, but the hydra overwhelms him. This death is the final act of encouragement from the game, driving you to finish the quest that he started. After finally beating Zoma and unfortunately sealing the exit t the kingdom in the process, your character receives the title of Erdrick, the legendary hero spoken of in the first two games. This shows that while the game is over, your legend is only just beginning. This is so powerful and it had me in near tears when I experienced it. I honestly, truly can not recommend this game enough.
Please play Dragon Quest III.