Saturday, April 14, 2012

Game Review: Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

As you have gathered from previous blog posts, I finally finished Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride a few days ago. (I actually still have the optional extra dungeon to beat, but I saved the world and all that.) And now you get a review! As a bit of background, DQV is the middle of a trilogy spanning DQ IV, V, and VI, but the three stories are unconnected. They just have certain story elements in common, like the Zenithian armor and dragon.

Look at that hideous box art. Do not be put off by it.

DQV takes place over 30 years and three generations (sort of). When the game begins, you are the young Hero (bec, in this case, of course) tagging along with your dad as he takes care of some business (generation 1). As the plot progresses, Hero grows up and is on his own (due to events that I will not spoil). That's generation 2 (even though you are the same person). Then Hero gets married (spoiler, but you can pick one of three choices for your bride, which is cool) and of course Hero's wife gives birth shortly thereafter (leading into generation 3). However, you control Hero as your primary character throughout.

Plot wise, it is about on par with the rest of the series. You have to save the world from a big baddie in the underworld. The plot does make the fight a bit more personal though compared to others in the series, since you spend a good chunk of the game rescuing family members that have been kidnapped by said big baddie's minions. The added focus on Hero's family resulted in a much stronger character line-up overall. (I actually felt kind of bad leaving Wife out of the party for the final boss fight, but she was severely under-leveled due to spending most of gen 3 kidnapped (sort of).)

Hero always wears that strange purple turban. This is a shot of the menu screen, where you can equip items, cast non-battle spells, rearrange your party, trigger non-essential dialogue, etc.

Throughout the game, you have the option to recruit monsters to fight for you. This is helpful in the beginning (when you only have 2 people, maybe 3 in your party) though I stopped using monsters for the most part by generation 3. Still, it adds a great deal of flexibility to the game play, which is nice, and it gives completionists something to obsess over (have I recruited every single possible monster even though I can only ever have 3 in my party at any given time and I have to level each one up from scratch in order for them to be at all useful?). They also allow you to have extra access to spells, which is quite useful. I usually kept one or two with healing spells in my wagon (which holds the backup party members) so that I could use them to heal up after battles instead of wasting my primary healer's mana.

Battle screen. Behold the monsters in the party. 

Battles are exactly like they are in every DQ game (and very similar to most turn based JRPGs), but the system works, so why mess with it? One interesting mechanic they added with the monsters is that you cannot control them until their "wisdom" stat is high enough that they can follow orders. That means you normally keep freshly recruited monsters in the wagon while you level grind until they become useful. That way they earn XP without taking up a valuable spot in your fighting lineup. There aren't quite as many places to fight metal slimes in this one, which is a shame, but there's still at least one place on the world map where they appear occasionally if you need to do some level grinding.

TNT Board!

I really enjoyed the addition of TNT boards, which are essentially mini board games. You have a set number of dice rolls, and you move around the board trying to reach the finish to access 2-3 chests with sweet items/armor/weapons. Each square represents something, either a monster battle, lose/gain dice rolls, lose/gain money, warp, random stat boost/degradation, treasure chest, etc. Only Hero gets to go on the TNT board, but the enemies in the monster battles are generally pretty easy. You pick up tickets to play TNT boards all over throughout the game. There are 5 boards and at least 30 tickets scattered around, and you get a TNT free pass near the end of the game that I assume gives you unlimited plays. It's a nice change of pace, even though the luck element can get a little frustrating at times.

All in all, DQV is a solid addition to the Dragon Quest series. I sunk about 30 hours into it so far, which considering we got it for about $15, is a pretty good value time-wise. (It is currently around $17 on Amazon.) If you liked others in the series, you should probably pick this one up too. 

1 comment:

  1. Damn. I loved other DQ games on the DS and didn't realise that this one was out.

    Just sold my DS last week though :-(

    Great review all the same!