By Joe Sigadel / July 25th, 2016
|Title||7th Dragon III Code: VFD|
|Release Date||July 12, 2016|
|Genre||RPG, Dungeon Crawler|
|Age Rating||T (Teen)|
We’ve had quite a busy year for niche Japanese RPGs so far, and the 3DS has been no exception. For the first time in the West, SEGA has decided to give us a game in the 7th Dragon series, which takes the classic dungeon crawler genre and make it a bit more accessible to newbies by making use of turn-based Dragon Quest-like combat, without the need for mapping things out. You might be hesitant to give this game a try, seeing as how we never got the others in the series, but you can rest assured that you can give 7th Dragon III Code: VFD a go as a standalone game without worrying that you’re missing out.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD takes place in a near-future Tokyo, where you find yourself a participant in the latest virtual reality dungeon crawling game created by Nodens, a prominent game company. This turns out to be a front for determining the fitness of who is strong enough to take on dragons, which are threatening humanity with an apocalypse brought upon them by poisonous flowers. The ISDF (International Self Defense Force) also is involved, and though your relationship with them is strained at first, your party (designated Unit 13) works together with them and their artificial human weapon Yuma to hunt these dragons down in search of True Dragon samples. By obtaining these samples, you can complete the “Dragon Chronicle” and use it to locate the 7th True Dragon, take him down and rid the world of the dragon menace once and for all. Sounds easy, right? All you need to do is head to the past and future to save other civilizations from their own True Dragon threats. I’m not sure this totally makes sense in terms of time travel shenanigans, but we’ll just go with it.
Creating party members for Unit 13 is quick and easy. There are 32 appearances to choose from, and you aren’t locked into portraits for classes either. You can use any appearance you wish, provided that it’s available. There’s also a large amount of Japanese voice talent to provide voices for your creations, so you can make them sound just the way you want to. The most unique class in this game by far is the Duelist, which takes card playing mechanics and dice rolls to summon monsters and throw down traps, Yu-Gi-Oh style. If you can put up with the slight RNG early on for whether you’ll get the right card or not, I suggest giving it a try. Otherwise, my favorites are the God Hand, Rune Knight and Fortuner. You’ll want to make use out of every single class, not only because they offer unique benefits, but also so that you can get a good balance of support later on when you can take a second and third support group to back you up.
The support system works like this: every turn you see how many turns it will take your backup party members to gain a bar. There are three levels of support you can use: Buddy, Support, and Unison. Buddy attacks are useful for placing debuffs on an enemy or stopping them from devastating your party or being a general nuisance by “breaking” their buff. Support skills buff your team, can clear status effects, and even raise a KOed character.
The last major part of building your characters is spending Skill Points to unlock and strengthen abilities. You won’t have enough to get every single thing you want, so planning what your purpose will be with that class is key. I found that the most useful skills are those that chain off of others which will give you an extra turn. To give an example, the God Eater can get God React, which gives them a chance for an extra turn if they inflict the God Depth debuff on the enemy. And if you have a Fortuner, they can chain off that to get their own extra turn with Following React. Skill Points are scarce at first, but the determined can farm them easily in late parts of the game as well as use items that grant them instantly to you.
As you travel through the ancient past and far future to hunt down dragons, you’ll see them appear as purple dots, some of which move back and forth, while others remain stationary. They’re like Code: VFD’s equivalent of Etrian Odyssey’s FOEs, but not as much of a pain to deal with. What’s interesting is that fighting random battles in close proximity to them makes it a risk that they will join in and start wreaking havoc on your party. This is a problem at first, but as you get much stronger you will need to take on multiple dragons at a time just to get by. You have every incentive to kill all of them, as doing so will net you points which can be used to unlock the necessary facilities for you to progress the game and get other rewards as well, like items and sidequests to take on for money and accessories.
Most of the facilities you unlock serve as housing for NPCs to protect them against the impending dragon apocalypse, but you can unlock other useful and fun things like a cat cafe, which not only heals you but provides a few hundred Skill Points for you to spend. There’s also a Skylounge, which is a rooftop bar you can use to date and romance your own party members, as well as prominent characters in the story. Max out a relationship, and something good might happen…
I really like the art style of 7th Dragon III Code: VFD. Graphically it’s on par with other 3D RPGs on the Nintendo 3DS, but the character models themselves are cute (especially Mio’s). But what really makes this game shine is the music, composed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro, who has worked on the other games in the series as well. Yuzo Koshiro brings to 7th Dragon III a mix of high energy future electronic, orchestral and lovely piano themes with the occasional fantastic vocals to accompany them. The soundtrack itself is a very good reason to try this game out.
All in all, while I feel 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is very good, it doesn’t quite reach masterpiece level for me, as it suffers a bit from tedium from fighting so many dragons. It drags the game down a bit, but for the most part it’s enjoyable and not too difficult on the standard difficulty, apart from a few boss fights that may give you some trouble. The price is reasonable for the length too, $40 for a bit over 35 hours of gameplay for the main story and sidequests. If nothing else, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is the best dragon slaying game I’ve played since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Review copy was purchased by the author
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