Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

Beautiful visuals and addictive, intuitive combat aside, the story of Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is downright fantastic

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Square Enix Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
  • Square Enix Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
  • Square Enix Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride

Pros

  • Great graphics, huge bestiary with many tameable monsters, truly unique story with excellent writing and plot twists

Cons

  • Tedious beginning chapter, annoying level grinding, huge time investment may scare off casual players and busy RPG fans

Bottom Line

If you have the time to devote to its awesomely structured story, Dragon Quest V can be one of the most memorable experiences you'll get from an RPG.

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Initially, I didn't realize what made Dragon Quest V so good. Beautiful visuals and addictive, intuitive combat aside, the story is downright fantastic. Even when typical RPG cliches seem to rear their ugly head in the first chapters of the long, 30 to 40-hour plot, DQV starts on a series of timeskips and plot twists that will keep the game firmly sealed in your DS case for days. It's just that good.

Come For The Combat...

Every Dragon Quest game is praised (and ridiculed) for having essentially the same combat system. While Square Enix's other franchises tend to drastically switch things up in every new instalment, DQV's random battles retain the same turn-based combat that we've seen over and over again. Personally, I was staving off boredom during much of the game's build-up, where your barely-out-of-diapers protagonist is just learning the ropes of being a hero by hacking away at bats, Slimes and feral ferrets in the woods. But DQV's monster-taming system skillfully injects a fresh doze of life into building parties and level grinding. It's a fun treat when you're giving the option of recruiting a monster after defeating it, especially since they can wear equipment and feature their own unique stats.

...Stay For The Story

After your first timeskip, jumping you from a globetrotting childhood with your in-game father to a harsh adulthood in slavery, Dragon Quest V's plot really starts to take shape and break cliches. Over the course of the game, my main character grew up, got married, and saw his children continue the long adventure that his own parents started. More importantly, it all happened without me being able to predict anything that would come up next, unlike most RPGs that tend to give away the plot within the first flashback. It's one heck of a way to tell a story, and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment to see a powerful party filled with characters that I pushed through hours and hours of tricky dungeons and painful, punishing boss battles.

Painful level grinding aside, Dragon Quest V is a fantastic, innovative experience. If you're going to play this game, make sure to devote it the time that it deserves, since Dragon Quest V can be as much a daunting game as it is a fun one.

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