I was really excited when Square Enix announced that they were localizing the Nintendo DS remake of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie for a north-American release. After having enjoyed the two previous remakes, I was looking forward to playing through the third game in the loosely-related thematic trilogy. Dragon Quest IV is essentially a series of tiny RPGs that weave together in the final act. Dragon Quest V is a generation-spanning epic that still has time to be emotionally resonant.
So what would the sequel have in store for me?
Fortunately, I didn’t approach Dragon Quest VI with the expectation that it would surmount its predecessors. In fact, it’s probably the worst game in the Dragon Quest franchise, but this low-point in an otherwise extraordinary series is still worth playing.
Dragon Quest VI sounds great as a concept. It’s amnesiac protagonist acts as a proxy for the player. The setting features two expansive worlds to explore. The characters and their dialogue are well written. The battle system is simple but is complemented by a reasonably complex job system. The graphics and music are both charming and fun.
The problem is that the narrative in the game is nonsense, and it nearly undermines the entire experience. In spite of being quite linear, the game doesn’t make its objectives clear… which is something I take issue with in any game. The game admits a lack of focus by including a fortuneteller character who tells you to come back if you get lost and need guidance. I visited her fairly often. With her assistance, I did manage to find my way from one point to the next, and enjoyed myself along the way. However, even a few weeks after playing the game, I have very little recollection of the story.
Make no mistake, Dragon Quest VI is not a bad game at all. In the end, the worst thing that I could say is that it isn’t very memorable in spite of being a completely competent JRPG. Dragon Quest VI might not be able to stand alongside many of its 16-bit contemporaries (Final Fantasy VI or Chrono Trigger or even Dragon Quest V), but it’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor for any fan who has depleted their supply of top-tier games. I’m quite glad that I played the game, but I’m unlikely to ever return to it in the future.