Dragon Quest XI S: 2D Mode Review

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

Caution: There are likely spoilers. You have been warned.

Editor’s Note: Please note, this is not a full review of Dragon Quest XI. My thoughts on the game have not changed since. You can find the original review here.

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a port of the Nintendo 3DS/PS4 game that broke my heart and stole nearly a hundred hours from me. I still have not completed the “True Ending”, thanks to a hurricane breaking my PS4 and killing my save file forever. But I will have it on the Switch Edition, you can be certain of that. But at that point, I was at about 90 hours, and deep into the Post-Game content. When someone says they’re going to remake/remaster a game, I become split 50/50 with how I feel. I go between “This is going to be awesome” to “This isn’t going to change anything at all, is it?”.

Square-Enix is known for doing remakes/ports really well, and really bad. Final Fantasy X/X-2 is among my favorite remasters of all time, but this one might just take the cake. They’re also known for the Steam port of Final Fantasy VI, which may be the worst remake this side of Secret of Mana. As of this writing, I’m still deep into Dragon Quest XI S, around the 30-40 hour mark in Act II. But since I know what the game offers, I feel like I’m qualified. Plus, I did see some of the brand-new in-game content; that’s right, the main story has new content that adds to the game in a positive way! Honestly, it’s something that should have been in the original. Today’s focus is on the 2D Mode specifically, because that’s the most important new feature of the game. But what is it?

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The bosses still look pretty mighty in sprite form.

2D Mode of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is an optional way to play the game in its entirety. The game is transformed into the 16-bit SNES style of Dragon Quest, like the remakes of 1-3 that appeared on the Super Famicom back in the 90s. This is the entire game in the traditional top-down, 2D design, within the 3D game. From what I understand, it was in the 3DS version of the game, so it’s new to us. That’s the most brilliant part to me, Square-Enix had to recreate the whole game, including the complicated, confusing maps and towns in this design. Of course, there are major pros and cons to this system, but we’ll get into that. There are some changes between the two modes (2D and 3D). A prime example is the enemies on the main map. Instead, it’s the traditional Dragon Quest style of random encounters. Another thing I noticed, is that some quests feel 100% impossible to complete.

I spent three hours trying to complete a quest at DQXI’s Girl’s Acadamy, and the item simply does not show up. I had to go to 3D mode and lose a bunch of progress, just to make sure the quest item existed. You can switch modes at any Priestess/Church in the game. The game will then let you go back to one of the last major checkpoints in the story. This does not mean you’ll be back exactly where you were! So please be aware of this before you swap. 2D Mode also appears to have fewer crafting mats in the world. This is made up for by having circles of green grass you can enter. These mini-areas have crafting materials and the occasional treasure chests in them. These spots will stand out because you’ll even see them in the snowy areas.

But there are positives! The maps are significantly shorter! The dungeons feel like they take forever in DQXI because you have to manually wander through huge 3D dungeons, and evade/enter battle as appropriate. These dungeon and town redesigns shrink them down quite a lot, or at least it seems to. Another positive is that with the Fun-Sized Forge, you can purchase the materials you’re missing! I’m not 100% certain if that was in the original, but I found out that you can in this iteration. If you are lacking crafting materials, the game will ask if you want to buy them for whatever their market value is. Brilliant, and a time saver. Dragon Quest XI S has some new content in the game besides this, and perhaps some I haven’t even seen yet. So let’s discuss that, but beware, spoilers!

Alright, spoiler people have gone? Let’s chat.

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This is from Erik’s side-story.

The important, story portion of the game takes place in Act II. After Yggdrasil is demolished by Mordegon, the world is in shambles, and the heroes have been scattered to the winds. The Hero starts off Act II (as a fish),  and he comes across his friends one by one. The problem is that you have no idea how they got into the present predicaments. Instead, at the start of Act II, you control each of the party members one by one and go through a mini-scenario as them. You’ll meet the people they met, go through the perilous instances they did, and figure out how they got where they are. This is absolutely brilliant and would have made the main story of Act II far less mysterious. They never really explain why Erik lost his memories, or why Jade is an essentially a Succubus. Enter, the Nintendo Switch version of the game! This is the greatest positive of the game, in my estimation.

Dragon Quest XI S is a gorgeous remake of an already incredible game. It had a ton of content already, including a post-game, but now the main story (and by extension, post-game) has more content! “Tickington” is a mysterious town full of those creepy little white, long-armed Tockles. Apparently, this content was in the 3DS version, as the 2D mode. I was unaware of this initially, but now that I know, I’m still okay. I just wanted it in the PS4 release. Was it worth waiting for? Absolutely, unequivocally. It’s not a perfect mode, but it is a ton of fun. In this Tickington series of side-quests, the player will find Tockles through the world, in towns, and hidden behind locked doors. They will open up side-quests among Dragon Quest 1-10, and it winds up being a sort of puzzle to fulfill. These quests give pretty awesome items, and you’ll have to put on your thinking caps to figure out what to do and when. You’ll see some of it in the footage above as well. It’s a fun trip through the past, whether you played these games or not. It’s a fun tribute to the games that came before.

Should You? But Thou Must! 5/5:

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Oh no, it’s Hendrik!

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age is the goddamn definitive remake. It fixed the problems I had with the original (the music) by adding a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack and also threw in the Dragon Quest VIII OST for certain parts of the game. It has more content, a whole secondary full game mode in 2D mode, and so much more. There’s a serious amount of heart put into the game. Now, I’ve heard whispers, rumblings, that this will one day come to the PS4/PC, whether as an update, or a full secondary release. But if you have a Switch, and need a lengthy, heart-wrenching RPG, what are you doing?! Why don’t you have this yet?! Dragon Quest XI S on the Switch, even if you played the original, is a 100% must. play.

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