The eleventh instalment of the storied Dragon Quest series could be one of the best JRPG’s in recent history. A game that brings out all the best features of an RPG into a story that will keep you going from chapter to chapter. While this is the eleventh entry in the series, it manages to feel completely fresh and new. The art style, monsters, and the world are the only real connection to the series as a whole. If you play the game you will understand the charm that has brought so many gamers to this Japanese title.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age, follows the journey of the reborn Luminary, a champion of light who once stood up to a great evil. This resurrection becomes a threat to the world as a warning that the great evil will also return. To this end, you begin life in a small town in Cobblestone where you discover your true lineage as the Luminary. After leaving to pursue your destiny you are cast out and must go on the run with new found friends to stop the rising darkness and bring light back to the world. Dragon Quest takes on your standard good versus evil motif but adds charming flavour and dynamic characters that will encourage you to experiment with your battle line up.

Dragon Quest XI brings us a strategic fighting experience, one that is shaped by you. Through tactics, you can choose which way you want to fight not just for you but your whole team. You can choose to do it all yourself giving each character commands or change your team to fit their character’s role within each battle. Be that healing, offensive or defensive. Your tactics are completely up to you and allow you to play the game in the way you want.

This feature gives the battle a fresh feel. If you want to take on all the important decisions but don’t want to spend all that time working it out, you are given the choice before every battle what tactics you would like to implement. This is the same for party members. You can choose the members of your team before every conflict, changing the roster to best suit the situation. This is helped by having each member level up regardless of who’s on the front lines, you only have to worry about who you want to represent your team.

The thing that really brings people into an RPG is the world and the characters who live within it. Dragon Quest XI delivers on this account by creating a kingdom full of life and oppositions for our characters.  As you progress through the story you will encounter characters who embody the generic archetypes of the roleplaying experience but the developers find a way to make them feel fresh and unique. This touch is one of the reasons Dragon Quest XI stands out from a large collection of JRPG’s. The fierceness of the characters, from their visual design to their reason for being, each new addition gives you a reason to pick up the game and continue playing. You will struggle to get bored playing alongside these dynamic characters.

When it comes to exploration Dragon Quest finds new ways to keep things fresh. This changes the game from your traditional dungeon crawl where you just have to make it from A to B, B being some sort of Boss encounter. Dragon Quest XI gives you more to explore or more obstacles in your path. This includes floors that fall from under you or secret stashes, the game keeps you entertained even through what would usually be a grinding experience.

Another addition brings mountable enemies. This might not seem like much but once you’ve defeated an enemy, you are able to interact with them, riding them around the environment in a unique way. For example, in one of the early dungeons, you use a mount that allows you to run up the walls. Other mounts will allow you to reach areas that were previously off limits. This slight change of interacting with the world really does change the feel of the game. This is yet another way that Dragon Quest XI gives audiences a fresh gaming experience.

Dragon Quest XI is a wonder in JRPG gaming. An expansive joyride that will keep you entertained at all moments throughout the journey. As you discover new dungeons and take on new bosses the game gives you new ways to enjoy yourself. Dragon Quest gives us traditional characters and scenarios but infuses them with charm and charisma that brings this adventure to life. While you will probably play games with better stories this year, or something more unique, you won’t regret picking up this game and diving into its world.