Dragon Quest V is a JRPG made by Chunsoft and published by Enix in 1992 for the SNES exclusively in Japan. It was subsequently re-released by Square Enix in 2004 for the PS2 and then finally got a worldwide release in 2009 on the Nintendo DS, a port of this version was released for smartphones in 2015.
The game follows the roller-coaster of a life of the prince of the kingdom of Gotha throughout three phases of his life, when he is a child, in his late teens and as a grown man as he searches for his mother who was abducted the day he was born. These playable periods are separated by time skips in which the player character is isolated from the rest of the world for one reason or another. This is a very interesting and brave choice from the devs(especially in the pre-Chrono Trigger world this was made in) players get to see not only the main character grow up, but all those around him as well and this makes them invested in the fates and exploits of all of these characters. The player is also presented with the choice to marry one of two(three in the DS version and the mobile ports) characters and this decision impacts the plot and gameplay since the player’s bride becomes a playable party member. Their children also become playable at some point in the story though they remain the same class and stat wise whichever bride is chosen, the only difference being cosmetic. A manga was released in Japan that detailed the events between the second and third playable stages of the main character’s life.
Gameplay in DQ V is the standard Dragon Quest affair with turn based combat. The main difference in gameplay between V and other Dragon Quest games before it was the addition of the ability to recruit monsters to your party. Players have a chance to recruit any monster they defeat in battle, each monster has different abilities and can equip different kinds of items. For example, Slime Knights can cast healing spells and buffs. Different species of monsters have different chances of getting recruited successfully. Having different monsters gives rise to different possibilities for the player’s party and encourages seeking out random encounters so as to get the most effective party balance. Players’ parties may have a maximum of 3 members including the player, this was raised to 4 from the DS version and onwards whilst also significantly increasing the maximum number of monsters the player can recruit in total.
With the multitude of time periods playable in the game, different areas become accessible at different points in the player character’s life. This gets players to revisit some areas at different times to clear them fully. Players can traverse the map via land, sea or air. With the means to travel across the latter two acquired at different points in the game.
As with all other Dragon Quest games, the art and design for V is done by renowned artist Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. It is top notch in everything from the character designs to the environments. The music is excellently composed and gives a great sense of atmosphere. The DS version also made the environments 3D and gave the player the ability to rotate the camera, which the player is required to do to get past an early game dungeon by finding a secret back passage only discoverable by rotating the camera. This was not present in earlier versions of the game but does help freshen things up for people who have played them. The environmental changes that occur to some areas over the years throughout the game are also very striking and give a sense of the passage of time. The classic Dragon Quest sound effects are present and will evoke nostalgia for all those who have played Dragon Quest games before.
Score: 9/10. An excellent game with much to offer in terms of enticing gameplay and an engaging plot. The monster collecting aspect is very fun and completionists will have a lot to occupy themselves with throughout the game.