Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation | Box Art

Standard Review: Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation (SNES/DS/IOS)

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is in a bit of an awkward position when it comes to the Dragon Quest series. While it is a solid JRPG in its own right, it has the unfortunate distinction as the first in the series to be a step down from the previous entry. In short, Dragon Quest VI is a good game, but it is nowhere near as good as Dragon Quest V, and it falls behind Dragon Quest IV as well. Hell there are even some parts of Dragon Quest VI that manage to fall below Dragon Quest III such as the pacing of its storyline.

My own personal theory for this could be that Dragon Quest VI focused on trying to emulate older entries more due to the fact that Dragon Quest V was originally met with a bit more mixed reception from Japanese audiences for its differences, although this only being by the standards of the series popularity in Japan where Dragon Quest is of the same level of popularity as Mario; there was still supposedly an increase of marriages in Japan the year of Dragon Quest V’s release after all due to the emphasis that getting married had on the game’s plot.

As a result, Dragon Quest VI’s main innovation, its Vocation system, which is similar to Final Fantasy III and V’s job system, was its main innovation. Unfortunately there turned out to be flaws with that system to.Despite all this, there are still a lot of good qualities to Dragon Quest VI that make it worth playing such as the usual sense of atmosphere, the well balanced battle mechanics, the wonderful soundtrack by Koichi Sugiyama, and just the overall fun gameplay of the game.

The main storyline of Dragon Quest VI stars an unnamed hero who starts the game out at the archfiend Murdaw’s castle. The main character and his comrades storm the castle only to be defeated by Murdaw and turned to stone. Afterwards, the main character wakes up from his dream in typical JRPG fashion. The adventure then soon starts out in typical Dragon Quest fashion where it slowly builds up from the protagonist’s humble beginnings to when he finally confronts Murdaw for real, or so it seems.

Decent gifs of the SFC version are harder to find, so the rest will be from the DS version, which is also the one I played.

In reality, that is only about one third of the game and the remainder feels like the biggest post game enemy clean up in JRPG history until the REAL bad guy is revealed. While it is an admittedly unique approach to make it look like the big bad was defeated a third of the way through the game, it ends up taking a lot away from player motivation.

Normally, when the party wanders around freeing towns from demons and helping the people with their problems, the player has the satisfaction of knowing that their deeds go towards beating the main villain. In Dragon Quest VI, however, there isn’t a sense of progress due to you knowing that you already defeated Murdaw. Yes the game hints that there is still something going on but the lack of villain presence really hinders the pacing of the plot.

However, what I must really give credit to is the general world building of the game. Each town has its own unique feel to them and it often gives you reasons to return to them instead of them being one off locations. There are also smaller storylines that occur in the towns such as a girl who poisons the mayor’s dog in order to frame someone else or someone who sold his daughter into slavery only to come to severely regret it. This is made even better considering the sheer amount of available party talk dialogue that the player can access based on what event just occurred or which NPCs they talk to.

Let’s be real, no one expected this hentai ugly bastard looking fuck to be the final boss.

The art style of Dragon Quest VI is also very well drawn in Akira Toriyama’s usual fashion. There have been some that have claimed that his characters looked too similar to his ones from Dragon Ball Z, but the character art is not prominent enough in game to really hold that against it. What is also very nice is how you have the ability to turn the camera and look at towns from multiple angles, which is very unique in a 2D game.

The sound effects are very well placed and fit perfectly, and the music is fantastic as well. The only complaint I have is that the battle themes are mostly inferior in the DS version, due to the lack of percussive force the originals had. The most notable example is the main boss theme, which sounds menacing and imposing, and the clanginess of the Super Famicom’s sound engine worked to its advantage. The DS rendition, while smoother and easier on the ears, lacks any of the intimidation factor, and simply does not fit the more subdued instrumentation. Conversely, the main town theme and any other more calming tracks sound infinitely better in the DS version, and is one of my favorite RPG town themes.

The battle mechanics are the traditional turn based mechanics that the Dragon Quest series and many JRPGs are known for. You select which attack you want each party member to perform at the start of the turn and they get their turn in comparison to the enemies depending on their speed stat. It is as traditional as a JRPG can get and it is done so in a good way.

Dragon Quest VI is a very well balanced game in terms of combat for the most part. A majority of the time, enemies in the game are challenging but fair. They are the type of challenging where you need to pay attention to them instead of mashing the Attack command again and again. You will need to make use of a wide multitude of buffs, debuffs, and status ailments in order to effectively get by random enemies, and bosses are heavily dependent on your equipment setup and approach.

Dungeon designs are also straightforward and consist of walking through them while taking alternate paths to get treasures, which will undoubtedly consist of many points where you end up finding the staircase before the treasure and need to backtrack while dealing with random encounters. This also means that, unfortunately, it will be hard to run from random battles a lot of times which gets annoying when you don’t feel like fighting them. This is especially annoying on the overworld map.

Now I have established that the positives of Dragon Quest VI are mainly the positives of most Dragon Quest games; the familiar combat and the nice atmosphere and progression. However there are two specific flaws with Dragon Quest VI that really drag it down aside from the lack of villain presence in the plot.

But how will they make Dragon Quest games without them?

The first of these are the way that the game’s vocation system works. First of all, it is not even unlocked until over a third of the way through the game, so it is introduced a bit later than it should. More importantly, certain abilities can only be learned through certain job classes, which means that the most important abilities like Multi heal or kazing are much harder to obtain than in previous games. Due to the fact that certain classes like the Sage or Gladiator require you two master two specific vocations in order to unlock them, it means you are just going to go with those two classes.

This ends up greatly discouraging experimentation because picking anything other than what goes to unlocking the sage and gladiator classes for the main game will require massive amounts of grinding to get you up to speed. As a result, the game punishes you for trying out one of its main features.

The other issue with the game is the amount of times where you just cannot figure out where to go. Dragon Quest VI is a much more open game than its predecessors, which means there are more places to explore. Unfortunately this also means that it is way too easy to get lost on the overworld map and need to look at a guide to find directions. It does not help that the in game hints to figure out where to go half the time are often said only once by an out of the way NPC and can only be remembered if the player is actively taking notes. This constantly disrupts the flow of the game and makes things more frustrating.

That’s no book……

Dragon Quest VI is a good game. It is a good game because it retains what is enjoyable about the Dragon Quest series despite its flaws, and is still very engaging and fun in its best moments. However, its flaws are pretty jarring and prevent it from true achieving true greatness. Specifically the vocation system, the inferior storyline, and the amount of poorly directed moments make the game a little bit worse overall. However, the game’s biggest crime is being inferior to the masterpiece that was Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride.

Of course Realms of Revelation did have its own subtle improvements of Dragon Quest V in the graphics department (especially in the original super famicom versions), and in the balancing of the battle mechanics. However, I cannot help but feel that the game was the way it was in order to conform to what the series was commonly seen as instead of taking a risk like Dragon Quest V does.

Keep in mind, however, that Dragon Quest VI is still a good game despite this and is definitely recommended to JRPG fans. As long as you aren’t expecting it to surpass Dragon Quest IV or V, you should be fine with this one.

Further Thoughts

RIP Akira Toriyama
April 5, 1955 – March 1, 2024

This review was originally posted to GameFAQs on May 18th of 2016, and has since been re-edited with enhanced presentation.

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