DRAGON QUEST XI S: ECHOES OF AN ELUSIVE AGE / DEVELOPER: SQUARE ENIX / PUBLISHER: NINTENDO / PLATFORM: SWITCH
The Dragon Quest games have always been critically beloved by fans, but their Japenese style has never quite resonated with a Western audience. Dragon Quest XI looks to change that. The story begins in the kingdom of Dundrasil. During a coming of age ceremony, the protagonist (you) discovers that they possess magical powers and it's revealed that they are the Luminary, a reincarnation of a legendary hero chosen by the world tree to save the world from evil.
Within the first few minutes of the game, two things that stand out are the breathtaking scenery and incredible soundtrack. Just looking around the beautiful countryside-esque village and listening to the score enchants your senses and immerses you in the game's massive world. Unlike previous entries in the series, DQXI opts for a more realistic style and it's all the better for it, making it feel more accessible.
The gameplay itself doesn't stray too far from the JRPGs of old. Battles consist of turn-based party management - nothing groundbreaking, but these classic combat mechanics have stood the test of time. Outside of battles there are fetch quests, crafting, equipment management and plenty to explore.
The game is packed full of unexpected features. You're able to switch between modern visuals and a 16-bit style, the soundtrack can be changed between original and the excellent orchestrated one, and voice acting can be switched between Japanese and English. You're also able to travel to worlds from the previous games in the series.
Other little features such as "the story so far" summary during the initial load screen are well received, and the localisation is really impressive, using numerous region-specific phrases such as "the long and the short of it." Added to the good dialogue and voice acting, it truly makes you empathise with the characters.
Dragon Quest XI sets a new standard for the series, and is up there with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when it comes to the best modern JRPGs. It's an essential purchase for Switch owners looking for a new adventure.