Reviews: Breath Of Fire Dragon Quarter

An Amazing Game saddled with a brand name.

Dragon Quarter is honestly one of the most innovative, tightly designed JRPG's out there.

The game is built around the idea of survival, of just barely scraping by from battle to battle, and every single aspect of the game is built to reinforce this concept.

The battle system relies on tactical positioning and fighting on your own terms by setting up traps and bait before you even get into battle, because all the enemies are very tough. you can only save via either a quicksave (which gets erased once you load it) or limited, scarce save tokens. The only way to heal is via healing items. You have to manage your inventory so you have enough to make it to the next shop while still having enough room to pick up better weapons and skills.

On top of this the game also encourages multiple playthroughs via the use of the SOL system, which allows you to either restart the entire game with some of your items and equipment, or just reload from your last hard save. On replays you will get additional scenes further clarifying the plot.

This feature is brought to your attention by the D-Counter, which represents Ryu's ebbing lifeforce. Upon using the dragon powers the counter increases, and once it gets to 100%, it's game over and you have to restart from the beginning. This does two things: first, it presents the player with an interesting choice. The bosses in this game are brutal, and you can pretty much dragon form and one-shot any of them at your leisure, but is it worth it? how far are you gonna make it, how do you know you won't need it later? Secondly, this creates a really powerful feeling of tension that you very rarely get in games, but this tension is not "absolute"; with the SOL Restore feature you can load back to a save after you've gotten better equipment and skills and possibly beat bosses without the dragon form that you wouldn't have been able to otherwise. This creates a situation where the players can grind and mitigate the game's difficulty, like so many other JRPG's.

As good as this game is, it's definitely an experience meant for hardcore players. And while it is (imo) a much more interesting and unique than all the other Bo F games, the fact that this game was chained to that brand name meant it faced a pretty unfair backlash. Which is a shame, because if you want a challenging, unique JRPG, DQ is worth checking out.