I apologize for spamming a whole lot of Dragon Quest articles. Usually when I play a game as much as I have for Dragon Quest VII in the past couple of weeks, I have a fairly good idea of what I’m dealing with. However, Dragon Quest VII is proving itself to be a bit of an oddity, and I feel as I’m having a hard time describing how I really feel about it. And a big reason for that is the most glaring issue I find with the game: the INCREDIBLY slow paced nature of the game.
I’ve beaten RPGs in the amount of time it takes you to unlock the vocation systems in Dragon Quest VII. In fact, if the tutorial of the original release really was two hours long like I’ve been told it was, I’ve beaten games like Super Metroid faster than that.
There is no getting around it: Dragon Quest VII is a game padded to last over a hundred hours, and boy does it show. I feel like I’m playing a game that revolves around the filler content in other RPGs. It’d be like if you HAD to get everything in the Golden Saucer to move past the first disc in Final Fantasy VII. I feel like I’m forced to work way too much for something.
But somehow, it sort of works. The various new scenarios and challenges constantly keep me interested despite the tedious nature of what I’m doing, but I have to say that playing a game really should never ‘feel’ tedious.
Take for example, Final Fantasy VI. You raid Narshe, meet Locke, get to Figaro, meet Edgar, escape Figaro, meet Sabin, and then the routes split. I believe all of that can take place within two hours. In fact, I believe getting to the World of Ruin takes about twenty, although I haven’t gotten that far in the game recently to say for sure.
Keep in mind, by the time I reached hour twenty in DQVII, I had only just unlocked the vocation system. What? Why did something like that take so long? FFVI takes a while to get espers and, by extension, unlock magic… but the characters have natural growth cycles that make them useful and fun to use without it. In DQVII, I swear I just ended up mashing attack up until I got the vocations, and BY THE WAY, DQVII will absolutely MURDER YOU if you assume that it will be a good idea to go into Alltrade Abbeys without the best possible equipment.
Fuck that area.
I feel like something like Final Fantasy handles pacing much better. It’s quick, concise, easy to understand, and has a lot of room for taking different approaches. In the early game of DQVII, I honestly don’t see HOW I could have done anything differently. Much like Earthbound Beginnings, it’s slow paced for no real benefit. I feel like I’m just as attached to the various towns and communities in FFVI as I am in Dragon Quest VII while spending… probably not even a hundreth of the amount time while there.
Final Fantasy VI proves that all you really need for heart breaking story telling is Celes and Cid living along together on a deserted island. That segment lasts maybe ten minutes, but it works, really well, and helped cement Celes as one of my all time favorite Final Fantasy heroines.
Final Fantasy in general, I feel, manages to do a lot more with it’s actual gameplay much sooner, which I think is really important for games in general. I’m twenty hours into Dragon Quest VII now, and still feel as if I’ve barely even gotten started. It’s exhausting, and the recent news that DQVIII is coming out in January, a lot sooner than I was expecting, does not help matters.
Despite my issues with the game’s pacing, I do feel attached to pretty much everything I do see and everyone I do meet. I just feel like it takes too much time to get there.