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Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition Game Poster Image
Fun cartoonish fantasy tale has bloodless turn-based combat.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Themes of friendship, loyalty, responsibility, and spirituality run throughout the lengthy story, which is founded on simple, traditional concepts of good and evil.   

Positive Role Models & Representations

The large cast of characters exhibits a range of behaviors, from selflessness and bravery to greed and thievery. The main hero, who doesn't speak, proves himself through his actions to be kind and dependable, always willing to help those in need. He fights without regret, and tries to avoid combat with people whenever he can.

Ease of Play

Role-playing games don't get much more accessible. Movement is intuitive, combat can be almost entirely automated by selecting certain tactics, and it takes more than a dozen hours for enemies to become very challenging.

Violence

Heroes use medieval-style weapons -- swords, crossbows, daggers -- and magic abilities to attack fantasy enemies including slimes, goblins, and wraithlike "smogs" in turn-based combat. Attacks are scripted animations (the player doesn't have direct control) that involve weapon swipes, stabs, and shots, but there's no blood or gore. Enemies quickly disappear once defeated. The bodies of dead soldiers can be seen in a handful of locations.

Sex

Some female characters wear outfits that reveal deep cleavage. Dialogue contains a bit of innuendo, including men excitedly commenting on a beautiful dancing woman as well as references to an unexplained thing called a "puff-puff."

Language

Spoken and text dialogue contains occasional mild language, including the word "damn."

Consumerism

Latest installment in the long-running Dragon Quest franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place in taverns with bottles on tables and shelves, and some characters are depicted as drunk, slurring their words.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is a turn-based role-playing game (RPG) for the Nintendo Switch. Players explore an enormous fantasy world filled with imaginative monsters ranging from slimes and enormous lips to bats and pigs that wear big hats. The heroes do battle with these creatures via scripted animations that involve swords, crossbows, boomerangs, and magic. There's no blood or gore -- defeated foes simply fall down and disappear -- though a few areas include dead human soldiers lying on the floor. The sprawling narrative includes dozens of characters who display a range of behaviors both good and bad, from selflessly helping those in need to thievery, but the main hero is a force for good. The game's cartoonish appearance and ease of play may make it appealing to younger players, but parents should be aware that a handful of scenes include light sexual overtones. Plus, some characters use mild profanity while others appear to be drunk.

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What's it about?

DRAGON QUEST XI S: ECHOES OF AN ELUSIVE AGE - DEFINITIVE EDITION begins with a mother sacrificing herself to save her baby, who is found by a man in a small village who raises the child as his own. When this baby -- who happens to have a strange birthmark on his hand -- grows into a young man, he learns that he may have a special destiny, and sets out on a mission to learn more about himself by meeting the king -- who promptly imprisons him and destroys his village. This initiates a boy-against-the-world story that has our hero recruiting a group of loyal friends who fight by his side as he works to rid the realm of evil. The bulk of the game is spent exploring both towns and countryside. Towns are typically where we find information, colorful characters, and quests, while the countryside provides endless opportunities to experience turn-based combat against imaginative fantasy enemies, using the resulting experience, resources, and skill points to grow and augment the player's little band of heroes. This "definitive edition" of the game includes several upgrades and alterations from the original PlayStation 4 and PC versions, such as the ability to craft items anywhere in the world rather than simply at camps, and a new 2D mode that allows players to experience the game with a pixelated, retro look.

Is it any good?

This is a case of a so-called "definitive version" of a game earning its designation. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definite Edition is the same great game originally designed for PlayStation 4 and PC reworked to take advantage of the Switch. That means you can now play this enormous RPG (Role-playing game) anywhere you take Nintendo's hybrid console -- and, surprisingly, with almost no noticeable compromise in graphics quality. More than that, Square Enix has updated and improved the experience in some substantive ways, the most notable of which is a 2D mode that lets us switch from modern 3D cartoon visuals to a much more old-school presentation -- and back again -- whenever we visit a church. It's not only a new way to see the kingdom of Erdrea; it provides a means of playing faster, which can be handy should you need to grind levels, harvest resources, or if you're just short on time. Other changes, meanwhile, have a noticeable quality-of-life impact, especially the ability to access the mini-forge to craft and acquire new items wherever you happen to be. That means you no longer need to head back to a campsite to upgrade your gear in the middle of a tough dungeon -- you can just do it on the spot.

But the fundamental appeal of Echoes of an Elusive Age is still the core game. The cartoon world is absolutely gorgeous and never anything less than a pleasure to explore on foot or horseback, and the lively characters who inhabit it are always willing to deliver interesting anecdotes and clever quips. Combat remains blissfully comprehensible, with players able to choose between commanding their characters' every action or simply setting them to fight automatically with the style of your choosing. It's a game designed to be played and experienced on your terms and with minimal frustration. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is indeed the best way to play a great modern Japanese role-playing game, and its 2D mode may even make it worth re-experiencing for those who've already played the original version on another platform.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition is a very long game filled with missions that merge into each other and lengthy distances between save points, so how do you plan out game sessions that are of a healthy and responsible length?

  • How do friendships begin? How do they grow? Can you consciously orchestrate a good friendship, or must they form naturally?

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