A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs. It features lots of combat and has a cartoonish presentation for its visuals. Players control a group of heroes, male and female, from a third-person perspective as they do turn-based battle with humans, humanoids, and fantastical creatures using swords, staffs, and magic. There's no blood or gore; hits result in flashes of light, and defeated enemies simply disappear. While characters are quick to use violence to solve problems, and one of them is a proud thief, they're clearly all a noble bunch, fighting for the good of the people. Parents should also note that text and spoken dialogue includes infrequent mild swearing like "damned," that some characters are shown drinking and getting drunk in taverns, and that a number of suggestive scenes involve the main character getting a "puff-puff" treatment (the nature of which is never revealed) from a buxom woman in a dark room accompanied by giggles.
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What's it about?
After enjoying a common childhood in a small town, the anonymous hero (players choose his name) of DRAGON QUEST XI: ECHOES OF AN ELUSIVE AGE is told he's the reincarnation of a powerful person known as the Luminary. As a result, he's sent to find his destiny by traveling to the kingdom's greatest city. But once he arrives, the king proclaims him a threat and locks him up before sending his best knights to destroy his village. With the help of a new friend, our hero escapes the city and embarks on a quest that will take him to Yggdrasil, the world tree, where he will learn the truth about the kingdom, the forces of light and darkness, and himself. As our protagonists explore the world, they encounter a wide variety of cartoonish monsters with which they do automated turn-based battle. Players control strategy, setting each party member to focus on attacking, healing, using magic, or using some mix of tactics, and then watch as their heroes do the fighting. Between exploration and dungeon crawling, the party visits towns and villages, taking on side quests to help locals in need, visiting shops, and engaging characters who further the plot. Growth comes by earning experience to level up characters, choosing abilities in character-specific disciplines, and equipping better armor, accessories, and weapons.
Is it any good?
Anyone pining for an old-school, turn-of-the-century Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) will easily find it here. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age has just about all of the hallmarks of classic games in the series and the genre. That ranges from the franchise's iconic enemies (slimes of all kinds!) and musical jingles for finding treasures and leveling up to the tried-and-true turn-based combat, skill trees, and party growth systems common to older role-playing games. Arguably, the designers went a bit too far in respecting the past: Giving each character his or her own inventory to sort through is tedious. So is finding a church or preacher to save your game and cure party members of their ill status effects -- but players of a certain age may find even these inconveniences comforting in an old-fashioned kind of way. And the move to make the game playable with just one (more or less) hand is genius. The bulk of what we experience is satisfyingly relaxing stuff, and the perfect way to enjoy it is to kick back on a couch with one hand behind your head -- kind of like reading a good fantasy adventure book.
What players of all ages are likely to enjoy is the game's colorful presentation and striking characters. The world of Echoes of an Elusive Age is undeniably gorgeous, covered in tall mountains, expansive oceans, thick forests, sprawling plains, deserted wastelands, active volcanoes, and more, all basking in beautiful lighting effects. And most of the characters -- the beating heart of any RPG -- are either lovable archetypes or quirkily distinctive, stamping a mark on our minds with their feistiness, kindness, loyalty, or humor. Our mute hero is bland by comparison -- he should've had a voice -- but at least his blank personality allows more imaginative players to pretend that they are him. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is an easy-to-get-into, expertly executed, and surprisingly big-budgeted vintage JRPG. They rarely make 'em like this anymore.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. When you see products related to characters and stories you like, how do you decide whether or not they're worth your time and money? What makes a brand-based toy or item worthwhile?
Are the primary female characters as powerful and intelligent as their male counterparts? Do secondary female characters portray positive or negative qualities?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $55.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: September 4, 2018
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Simulated Gambling, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
- Last updated: April 2, 2021
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