Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dragon Quest IX's final dungeon: Underwhelming (despite its transformation)

You know a final dungeon means serious business when it's alive. Dragon Quest IX's is special though since you get to see it come into being.

Once you choose to go to the Realm of the Almighty to finish off Corvus you're treated to a scene in which the once simple architecture of the Realm breaks apart as tendrils and muscle tissue erupt at oblique angles, making it into a strange perversion of a world tree. As is the usual for the game's cutscenes, it's done in the game's usual graphics.

No fancy animation is shown for it (though the transformation would definitely work as a cinematic piece).

But, somehow, seeing the final dungeon take shape before your very eyes in the general graphical style of the game makes the transformation more shocking.

A clean, entirely separate, animation sequence would definitely give much more detail and personality, but showing this transformation in the game's quasi-16-bit, 2.5D style makes the transformation truly look like the work of a greatly powerful being. One that can rend the very ground over which you've watched your characters walk for the whole game and turn it into something twisted and deranged.

Although that powerful being's henchmen are worryingly easy.

The monsters in the Realm of the Mighty tend not to give chase. And those that do don't take more than two rounds to trounce. I took down the second iteration of Goreham-Hogg in so few turns I was left asking myself and the game: Really?

Is this really the game's final dungeon?

I know that there's more to do once the game's story is complete. There are more treasure maps to find and grottos to clear. Side quests are likely to still be accessible, too. But, my characters are sitting at levels 39-41 and it looks like the only challenge the rest of the dungeon will hold is its sheer size.

Unless, of course, it turns out that Corvus took some lessons from this game's version of Zoma (found in a grotto) and attacks at least twice per turn, doing well over 200 damage per attack. But somehow I doubt that.

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