Note: For this review, I’ll begin with a spoiler-free portion and then go into spoilers after a warning.
Dragon Quest 11 is an absolutely amazing experience. I’m surprised how much I enjoyed it. It’s a fairly cookie-cutter good versus evil story, but the manner in which they utilize the cliches feels surprisingly organic and original. I’m quite pleased with everything and I have no complaints about the interface or gameplay at all. I sank 123 hours into this game and I’m quite pleased to say that it never got boring, there’s so much content to have fun with, and I cannot recommend this game enough! Definitely get Dragon Quest 11, if you’re interested in purchasing it or are choosing between it and other games. From what my brother and a close friend tell me, it’s far better and feels more complete than Final Fantasy 15; they both played and beat both games recently and unfortunately, Final Fantasy 15 doesn’t really have much in the ways of coherent structure and half the game you basically have to watch or buy other content for. Dragon Quest 11 is a complete game with so many side-stories and sidequests that give a wealth of content. No stupid paywalls and no DLC scams like other games. I’m so happy that this game was released overseas. It’s a phenomenal experience. If you want a complete game without any nonsensical DLC scams or wish to support games that go against such scams, then please consider supporting games like Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age.
Notwithstanding, this game is fantastic on its own merits. Here are some reasons why, from its weakest components to its strengths:
Music: 8/10. Quite possibly the sore spot for some people. The music is unfortunately the MIDI version which just doesn’t sound as good as the Symphonic Suite. If you played Dragon Quest 11 on Steam like I did, then there are mods to replace the MIDI files with Symphonic music which makes the game sound far better. I played the game on MIDI since I didn’t mind too much, but definitely consider using the mod if you really can’t stand the MIDI format of music.
Gameplay: 11/10. Hyperbole’s aside; It’s Dragon Quest 8’s gameplay on steroids. There are so many fun skills and combined attacks from pep-up (the Dragon Quest 11 name for the tension system that first began in Dragon Quest 8) that it never gets boring. The gameplay feels fast-paced as it isn’t slow by any stretch for turn-based games and you can even have characters move around the grid; even if it does nothing and is only cosmetic. The skill tree section seems a bit reminiscent to Final Fantasy X, but I would say it’s more similar to Digital Devil Saga 1-2, except it’s done way better than any of those three games. Unlocking new skills allows for all sorts of amazing benefits and actually feels like meaningful milestones within the combat itself unlike in Dragon Quest 8 where the moves barely did anything and didn’t even kill weak monsters.
You collect skill points as you level-up and you’re able to change them if you feel you’ve made a mistake by speaking to a cleric at a Church. The skills themselves look amazing on screen and there aren’t any slowdowns or unpolished attacks from what I played. Some Team Supermoves have a few short cut scenes but they go by quick and offer to further the exhilarating atmosphere.
Story and Plot: 9.7/10. The plot and story are done amazingly well; this is particularly surprising for a game with a cookie-cutter good versus evil theme. This game really shows that it isn’t always the specific style of story that disinterests people, but rather the manner in which it is shown to us. Everyone in the game had believable character motives, plotlines intersected in shockingly engaging and interesting ways, and – while the beginning is a tad slow – it really picks-up and is a blast from beginning to end once the third party member joins. Some plot elements which I had assumed was oversights in the very beginning were later either clarified exceptionally well or specific characters were heavily alluded to having different character motives for their actions than what I had thought was the truth behind their motives. And please don’t be confused on this point, the perspective of these characters is at first shown to be one-sided, but then more story info and a clearer explanation from the characters themselves help to explain why actions that seemed like oversights were actually very well-developed and understandable actions from their points of view. I love when games do this. Dragon Quest 11 does this incredibly well. I still have some gripes related to the early portions of the game, like the Dragon Quest 11 Hero being so forgiving of certain actions taken by Heliodor, but that’ll be explained in the spoiler-section of this review.
Characters: 9/10. Four of the party members; Sylvando, Erik, Rab, and Serena get an amazing wealth of character development during major sections of the game’s story. Some of which isn’t until deep into the plot, but its handled beautifully and well worth the payoff. I was a bit taken aback by how much I could empathize and love this cast of characters and I couldn’t help but compare it to previous games. What really surprised me though was even side-character villains like Jasper have some of the best character motivations and development; I was honestly stunned. He seemed like a typical henchman and then they give you an inner look into his life and an explanation on why he became what he was. Veronica, Jade, the main villain, the Superboss (yes, the Superboss of all people), Hendrik, and the King of Heliodor get really good background character motivations. They all feel as enriching as Dragon Quest 8’s cast. So, they’re either really good or adequate, but they don’t really feel like they grow as characters like the aforementioned four others. Please don’t mistake my words, they’re not bad characters. They’re really good static characters, but they don’t feel like they develop beyond their background histories. They’re still very fun and enjoyable; they definitely enrich the story, but it seems primary focus was oriented more towards Sylvando, Rab, Erik, and Serena.
As is usual for Dragon Quest, if you spend time talking to NPCs, like I do out of fun, background characters like Veronica and Serena’s parents, Erik’s fellow thief Derk and other background characters later revealed, and Rab and his background history are fairly well-developed characters in their own right. It really surprised me and it really enhanced my enjoyment of this game. I had initially felt it was lame to be playing yet another Good Versus Evil / Light Vs Darkness story so typical in JRPGs and even more so in WRPGs, but to my chagrin I changed my mind after awhile. The characters were so developed and their trials so engaging within the scope of a really interesting plot that all I had left was a really enjoyable and fun experience.
I can’t help but compare this experience with Dragon Quest 8. This game’s cast far outshines Dragon Quest 8’s cast of characters. I was genuinely surprised, since this cast is much larger. With respect to comparisons, I would say that while Dragon Quest 8 had really fleshed out backgrounds and really fun party chat which helped flesh out the characters even further in their stories, it didn’t translate to the cut scene stories of the game which felt like a lot of their characters centered around their pasts or – with one particular character – a single conversation in their past being a defining moment for them which didn’t really make sense to me. Dragon Quest 11’s cast is just done far better than that to me. I would say this cast is second only to Dragon Quest V’s cast, but Dragon Quest V still remains my favorite and I’m obviously heavily biased in that regard. Heh. Erik, Rab, Serena, and Sylvando — like the Dragon Quest V cast and the Dragon Quest 9 side-stories — provide the best of both games along with an enhanced version of Dragon Quest 8’s gameplay that improves in every way.
Extra Content: Hands down, this game has some of the best extra content ever. Three extra dungeons (albeit rehashed designs), a litany of extra side-story quests for Post-game, an extra ending for beating the Superboss of the game, and 20+ extra story after you beat the Final Boss.
This is the quintessential Dragon Quest game and offers the best that the series delivers on. It definitely deserves Game of The Year, if nominated. I hope it gets such an award, because it absolutely deserves to. If you’re considering purchasing this game, I highly recommend it! It doesn’t have any dlc scams, it’s a complete game which you can spend 120+ hours on, and it has a really challenging and fun Superboss fight. Definitely consider purchasing Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age.
Overall, phenomenal game and I definitely loved it. The beginning was a bit slow up until the third party member showed up where it really got the ball rolling, the extra content is great, and the plot is written incredibly well and always manages to remain engaging and interesting. Thus, I’d rate it a 9.7/10.
Overall Score: 9.7/10.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR DRAGON QUEST 11: ECHOES OF AN ELUSIVE AGE AND OTHER DRAGON QUEST GAMES BEYOND THIS POINT.
Final Thoughts on the game and the True Ending:
Overall, I really rate this game highly among mainline Dragon Quests. If I had to set up my own personal hierarchy it would be classified as follows:
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS)
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PC)
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2), Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS), Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky (DS).
Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Reverie (DS)
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (PS1)
Now, to make sure there’s no confusion, the part of the list with the 3 Dragon Quest titles are games I enjoyed an incredible amount, but just lacked one small thing from making them among my absolute favorites. The story of Dragon Quest V is one that encapsulates enduring, suffering, and meaning and all with a silent protagonist who never feels out of place and who was probably given the most amount of choices out of any Dragon Quest in terms of your ability to impact the story. If you’re interested in any of these other titles, I highly recommend checking them out. If you didn’t like Dragon Quest XI, I still recommend checking out Dragon Quest V or, assuming your tastes are totally different from mine, the Dragon Quest games that I didn’t rate highly might catch your interest. There’s usually a favorite for every stripe of fan in the Dragon Quest community. One thing I think Dragon Quest VIII probably did do better than Dragon Quest XI is that when you made the “wrong” choices, you were given short and hilarious scenes asking if you’ve gone totally insane and it was done in a very comedic manner over serious story scenarios that never felt out of place. Whereas in Dragon Quest XI, the characters just say to stop joking or that they didn’t quite catch what you said until you agree to their request.
As far as story, the only part that felt out of place was the DQXI Hero not protecting the Sword of Light and letting himself sleep unguarded in Heliodor castle after traveling back in time. It made no sense for the Hero not to protect the sword when he knew of what events would transpire. The plot stretched a bit in credulity that he would sleep with the sword unguarded, but that was the only real “plot hole” to me in terms of the story and actions of the characters in their world of Erdrea. However, I was told by the aforementioned close friend, that the game repeatedly depicts the Hero slowly regaining memories of different parts of his past life in the previous timeline, which helps explain why he has so little to say and why we see flashback images with the Hero’s shocked expression. It is possible, and heavily inferred from the repeated flashback images and surprised looks, that he was slowly regaining the memories and that the memories weren’t transferred in one swoop. In fact, in a very odd way, Calasmos ends-up saving the world by repeatedly protecting the Sword of Light from Mordegan for his own selfish reasons of wanting to make sure that Erdwin’s Lantern can safely merge with him and return him back to the fulcrum of his power. In fact, it’s actually a bit hilarious that Calasmos, the true villain, just hides in his own world plotting some future evil while Mordegan completely wrecked the world, damaged the sky people of Haven’s Above in what could qualify as genocide from one dark blast, and did a lot more harm to the world as a selfish human than an entity of Darkness like Calasmos ever did. Mordegan’s selfishness is highlighted throughout the post-game by his guilt-ridden persona, so it definitely seems to have been purposeful. Ironically, Mordegan, while being a horrific demonic entity consumed by greed, power, and hatred ends-up saving the world in the original timeline by preventing Calasmos from reclaiming his rightful power for his own selfish reasons. Now, I understand the irony of all this is that Calasmos set Mordegan up on this path in order to prevent Erdwin from killing him, but this whole clusterfuck of events (and please don’t mistake my meaning, it’s a hilariously awesome clusterfuck made from good writing, not bad) really sets up how different the levels of “evil” are in Dragon Quest. Objectively speaking, Calasmos is the worse threat, but in terms of moral depravities, Moredegan ends-up being far more disastrous because he’s so selfish.
Even more interesting is the side character of Jasper. His motivations are the most humane of them all. His line of, and I’m paraphrasing, “Friendship, love, dreams, The Light . . . Only power matters.” really hit home how much he had lost out on finding a purpose in life. With flashbacks showing his dedicated training to knighthood to serve his kingdom, regularly reading his schoolbooks and doing his best, and in the end . . . he could never once compare to Hendrik in abilities, popularity, accolades, and Hendrik ended-up achieving much of Jasper’s dreams of becoming a beloved knight and one of the King’s most trusted subordinates. Also, it really hits onto the face of people who may believe only power matters. The whole world is destroyed, many of Heliodor’s citizens and people all over the world utterly slaughtered from the destruction of Yggdrasil, and the world has become a hellish nightmare akin to Islamic or Christian religious dogma that psychotically yearns for the end of the world so Jesus can come back as per Bronze age mythology. It really shows just how destructive that mindset really is. Jasper ends-up destroying the life he knows and the entire world because he became bitter about being unable to find any happiness in the world. Everything he placed his life goals upon failed and he just gave-up. I feel like this is a good contrast to the Hero and his entire party. Whereas everyone else who completely failed in their life purpose kept trying to make new meanings and move on to eventually ameliorate their past tragedies or find that not all hope was lost once they found the Hero, Jasper just gave-up because it was too emotionally painful to deal with. Jasper’s character of besting everyone else is part of it too; it may seem like generic villainy, but he’s trying to prove that his own personal resentment has meaning. In fact, the only time Jasper finally lets go of this anger and resentment and actually stops relentlessly trying to kill your party is when Hendrik admits openly and honestly that Jasper’s drive to constantly improve himself and his dedication to Knighthood is what Hendrik secretly envied. Despite the accolades, adoring fans, and implicit trust of the King of Heliodor; Hendrik always saw Jasper as far above him in knowledge, skills, and dedication and ready to outclass Hendrik at a moment’s notice with brilliant moves and new techniques lurking to show how great his talents are. This moment shocks Jasper speechless in a moment of genuine emotion as Jasper tries to process the revelation that Hendrik rose to become what he was because Jasper meant so much to him as a close friend and someone who always pushed Hendrik to keep improving. What’s particularly interesting is that from Jasper’s point of view, it felt as if nothing could stop Hendrik’s destined meteoric rise and that his efforts were meaningless folly with him acknowledging the “fact” that he was worthless compared to Hendrik. And then, Hendrik’s revelation changes that entire relationship dynamic. Hendrik himself felt inadequate compared to Jasper’s training and dedication, he rose as far as he did not to beat Jasper or show him up or mock him, but to just keep-up with him and to hopefully prove to Jasper that he was just as serious about Knighthood and perhaps to impress Jasper with his own dedication. Jasper’s betrayal becomes even more painful for the two of them when they learn each other’s perspective, and Jasper finally allows himself to die because the shock that he had been Hendrik’s inspiration and personal hero up until the betrayal probably allowed him to let go of his resentment since his actions weren’t useless, but rather the motivating factor for Hendrik’s own rise.
The subplots are on par with Dragon Quest IX and VII’s level of intimate details and development. Characters such as the Hero’s biological parents are given entire full length story arcs in which we discover how the Hero’s father is bound by regret and a demon, the Gloomnivore, who continues to eat it’s fill from that regret used Irwin’s feelings for its own horrifying purposes. The story arc is really well done and explains a lot of the background after the shock twist of Mordegan, who felt like he came almost out of nowhere apart from the party’s talks about him, until you realize the lengths Mordegan went through to keep his identity hidden and how much he continues to hide while working towards making the killing stroke upon the Luminary through deception and unsavory tactics. Mordegan’s manipulative nature really shine in the third arc of the game and they show this further in the post-game content where the Hero traverses back in time to stop Mordegan’s calamity from happening in the first place.
The main cast were incredible for the most part. I loved Rab’s in-depth events from sending the dead souls of Dundrasil to the afterlife to his trials with the Wheel of Harma and Harma practitioners. Not only does he feel like he has a strong background, but he also has really good character development too. It’s tinged with a bonus of some of the best humor, like when meeting him in the dead world and he agonizes over how the Hero has tragically lost his life due to his own misunderstanding. Hilarious and touching at the same time. It only improves therein with him working to rebuild Dundrasil from then on out of nothing. His interactions with the Hero and his background story with Jade really show his determination; I personally thought his party chat interactions in Cobblestone both during the main game and post-game really help define his character in relation to the Hero; it was just so endearing overall.
Erik and Mia’s backstory and the lengths Erik went to achieve atonement for what he felt was entirely his fault was really well done. Mia’s perspective on the issue, the feelings of abandonment, and the mistaken belief that Erik didn’t care or had condemned her by trying to forget about her made for a surprisingly engaging subplot on what was a fairly generic template for a background story. This particular subplot really shows that it’s not the genre cliches that are the most boring or trite parts about a story, but rather how they’re handled that really clinches it. Most stories which follow this type of backstory would have the sister be utterly selfish or insane, but in this one, there is a strong sense of sadness and betrayal for what Mia perceived to be abandonment. Interestingly enough, Erik could have become one of Mordegan’s subordinates like Jasper; the story even toys with the idea through Mia having her vulnerabilities exploited by Mordegan and Erik himself making note of how lucky he was to find the Hero thanks to the Seer. This becomes even more ironic and shows the very fine lines of grey because the Seer is simply the remainder of Mordegan’s goodness and his own guilt manifested into an alternate being trying to fix his own mistakes. It extinguishes the black/white boundary of the Light vs Dark theme of the game to show how it’s a case of working through our vulnerable moments versus allowing someone to corrupt us and to succumb to feelings of betrayal or self-loathing.
Sylvando’s character arc and working things out with his father was really written and portrayed well to me. I think it really symbolized that even the most confident and bravest of individuals can often need a friend to be there with them to deal with their own personal vulnerabilities. Sylvando’s flamboyant nature, his endless and tireless work towards building hope for others, and his relentless pursuit of making the world a happier and brighter place is really fleshed out throughout the story. While at first his antics seem ridiculous and made for nonsensical comedy, it really brightens the mood of the story after the party fails to stop Mordegan and Mordegan brings darkness upon the world, including slaughtering millions of people from the dark catastrophe he unleashes. Sylvando’s band of entertainers help to save people, salvage them from wreckage, and then bring entertainment to their lives. I felt it really hit on the core of Sylvando’s character. He’s extremely selfless; willing to put himself in harm’s way for others and yearning to instill people with not just safety, but hope for the future through fun, entertainment, and having a genuine joy for life. I think his background with his father, and the Hero helping him work through his fallout and patch things up with his father, was fantastic as a subplot and hilarious to boot. I’m not sure how others may feel about Sylvando, but I think he’s genuinely a great character. Perhaps the best among the party. He knows when to be serious and when to be cheerful, you can even see it in his mannerisms. That subtle behavior alone helps flesh out and speaks volumes for both his courage and compassion for others. I thought he was a beautifully written character.
Veronica and Serena were an interesting pair. At first, I was reminded of the twins of Dragon Quest IV, Meena and Maya, and I initially thought that they seemed to have less characterization until the game progressed to the second-half. I did see Veronica’s death coming as a lengthy amount foreshadowing was done quite well. It’s subtle at first, with general speeches about how the Arboria twins will give their lives for the Luminary which seem like typical babble, Veronica’s dedication to the cause is highlighted by nursing you back to health in the early portions, and finally, Serena’s joke of dying together as they had bloomed together with Veronica’s response being that Serena had always been a bit slow was well done. Even after Mordegan’s calamity, the hints were sparkled throughout the game. From the more overt like Sylvando’s joke of Veronica dying from laughter at Erik’s mannerisms (which was how I figured out which twin it was going to be) to the subtle hints like the fact that the party was protected from Mordegan’s blast with seemingly no concrete explanation up until her sacrifice is revealed. Players would have just assumed the world tree, which was dead, had somehow pulled a miracle, only for the plot to reveal a more fleshed out storyline and Veronica’s sacrifice for the Luminary’s cause. It really became a case of one of them giving their lives up and willingly dying for you. I really loved Serena’s development from this plot twist in the game. You learn of her vulnerabilities and struggles, and the fact that she must now go on ahead and save the world at the price of her sister’s sacrifice. She had always felt secondary to Veronica’s abilities and then had to shoulder saving the world without her. The hair cutting scene, in Japan symbolizing starting a new life and moving past old regrets, the singing of their childhood song as a send-off for Veronica’s funeral, and the reasons Serena gave felt really poignant.
I’m somewhat hesitant to call the third half with the time travel as a story arc that ruins this sacrifice. As I find that all the journey and experiences up to that point are themselves sacrificed in order to save the world again. According to a friend of mine who read a partial translation of the interview with Horii after Dragon Quest XI came out in Japan, Horii has stated that there is only one main timeline and that all possible differences essentially converge into one whole timeline. Every split decision or time travel changes simply converge to make one main timeline, no matter what. That’s why the party awakens to the levels and experience from before the Hero’s time leap into the past. I still think Serena is a very well-fleshed out and dynamic character. Her reaction to the fake Veronica in Mordegan’s Castle showed her commitment. To her, it was more of a mockery of Veronica’s sacrifice than feeling horrified by her sacrifice. I felt that her stern reaction made perfect sense in context. Serena’s experiences and her reactions to the situations that she’s put through makes her a really well developed and dynamic character to me. She’s one of the best additions to the cast.
Veronica, by contrast, feels less dynamic. She’s a good character, she has realistic interactions (as there is a note of jealousy that the Hero never fell for her like he did for Gemma which she could reasonably blame on the curse inflicted on her body), and she isn’t one-dimensional. She’s adequate for the story and her death in the second-half imposes a degree of shock and seriousness that wasn’t there in some of the previous games. It gives new meaning to the idea of sacrificing oneself for the Luminary’s cause to save the world. For example, no one in Dragon Quest 8 died during the journey. Her death was a change of pace and of tone. The only thing similar would be Keiffer leaving permanently in Dragon Quest 7, Pankraz’s death in Dragon Quest V, and I suppose Aquila of Dragon Quest IX would be the closest. Yet, Aquila is not as impactful of a death and then a return since Veronica is a party member. Also, Veronica is a better character than Aquila in my view.
I liked Jade’s character and her party chat, but I felt they dropped the ball with her since most of her side quests and her focus on the main story is either just her background or jokes about her sexiness. I really liked her Demon form and its abilities in the game itself, I always wanted Dragon Quest to have something like that and it works fantastically for gameplay purposes. Overall though, it’s clear that there was more focus given to the other characters. After her entry into the party with explanations in the story about her motivation to protect the Hero, her character arc is pretty much finished.
The Hero is the more tough one to call. I liked the background story, the fact he technically gets his own character arc by learning that hope and light are what empower the Mark of Erdrick that he has and that it’s not just about being the Chosen One as the only one able to end darkness. It’s about his personal beliefs about himself and about the world that change it. “But Thou Must!” is in it like every Dragon Quest and to be honest, it’s always led me to decrease points in terms of my personal rating. Dragon Quest 8 managed to make such actions funny, but there isn’t so many comedic moments in this one. I much prefer Dragon Quest V’s style of it always leading to the same conclusion but with different dialogue to spruce things up a little bit. Also, I didn’t like how the character was basically made to always look past anger and hate or to reject such negative feelings, even when his home village is completely wrecked and it’s implied all of Cobblestone has been slaughtered. I will say that this specific component is played to successfully toy with player expectations when you find out that the residents are all safe and alive after Mordegan’s catastrophe. It really clinches the overarching themes of hope, light, compassion, and love but I’m still not sure what to think of it. I sometimes wonder if it’s a naive message or a good one. I’m just conflicted about the message and overarching theme. I do feel that the Hero is a great silent protagonist for the most part and the game handles it shockingly well. Overall, I really love the interactions and it’s not like the game portrays the Hero as some soulless saint since he does have healthy sexual feelings like any normal guy and it’s shown both in certain group attacks and with puff-puff side-gags when talking to puff-puff bunny girls. It isn’t shamed either. Overall, I liked Cobblestone, his interactions with Chalky, Gemma, his Mother, his biological Mother and Father, and the main cast. It never once felt forced, or annoying, or poorly done. It was great from start to finish in all honesty. I actually liked the marry Gemma option, even if it’s just a small feature compared to Dragon Quest V’s main story having that as a core component. Also, he looks absolutely awesome in the Erdrick Armor set!
As for the True Ending itself…. I was under the impression that Erdwin and Serenica were the parents of Dragon Quest 3’s Hero. Yggdragon implies that she too could become corrupted. I had thought that meant she would become Dragonlord in the future, but evidently that’s not the case. Instead, it heavily implied that she’s the pregnant Dragon Queen of Dragon Quest 3 and that the final boss of Dragon Quest I, Dragonlord, is her son. It really turns her life into a complete tragedy given the monstrous being that Dragonlord is and how he devastates Alefgard. I’m told that Erdwin was a red-herring and not actually the Dragon Quest 3 Hero or in any way related to him. The main plot heavily implies that the Erdrick title isn’t a bloodline but a form of reincarnation. Dragon Quest XI being a prequel to Dragon Quest 3 and the Hero of XI being the first Erdrick actually does tie into the Erdrick saga because it’s just a legendary title even in Dragon Quest 3. Thus, the Erdrick Trilogy has become the Erdrick Quadrilogy. Also, I’d like to make a note that I felt the characters of Erdwin, Mordegan, and Serenica received adequate development. Mordegan being the most developed and Serenica a close second. This really surprised me as I expected them all to be more one-dimensional like Drustan, but evidently not.
Nevertheless, I thought I may as well give my initial impressions of the True Ending. I’m of the opinion that the Time Travel that the Dragon Quest XI Hero does leads into Dragon Quest 3 and turns the Erdrick line into the bloodline we know of in Dragon Quests 1-3 because Serenica goes back in time. Since the timeline’s converge, she and Erdwin probably just sealed Calasmos away since they couldn’t rely on Mordegan’s help due to knowing what he would do, such as attempting to kill Erdwin as Erdwin would attempt the final blow. Then, given that it cuts to a green-haired woman waking up the Dragon Quest 3 Hero . . .
I think the True Ending was showing us that Serenica and Erdwin are the Dragon Quest 3 Hero’s parents. I know that Ortega is the name of the Hero’s father and most people say that Erdwin was just a red-herring meant to mislead people into thinking it’s a sequel when Dragon Quest XI is a prequel, but that name could easily be retconned and it seems like the game is either hinting at a direct sequel to Dragon Quest XI or tying in its relation to the Erdrick saga. Given that it shows the latter, here’s my reasoning for this pet theory of mine, which I’ll fully admit is erroneous if we ever get a clearer explanation. I think part of the beauty of this ending is that it seems to be meant to be interpretative and I enjoy that:
When Serenica is given the Sword of Light, the Dragon Quest XI Hero gives her the Mark of Erdrick as well.
Erdwin’s name isn’t just similar to Erdrick, he’s the spitting image of Erdrick:
The camera explicitly pans to their Marks, Serenica still has the Mark of Erdrick and this information is conveyed to us deliberately. Given that they’re in love and would obviously be doing a lot of lovemaking to make-up for the lost time, it stands to reason that any children they have will also bear the Mark of Erdrick.
Now, the after-credits scenes are focused on Serenica and Erdrick up to the point of the scene with a purple-haired lady putting a book about the Luminary of Legend (DQXI Hero) away. Many people assume this is someone different. However, this woman, who is heavily implied to be the Dragon Quest 3 Hero’s mother with her waking him up to imply the beginning of Dragon Quest 3, has purple hair. Why is this important to note? Because Serenica has purple hair too. What if it never actually changed from Serenica’s viewpoint but just skipped ahead several years to show us the results of the time leap?
Some might argue that her hand lacks the Mark of Erdrick to discredit this theory, but that’s her left hand and not the right hand which is the one that should have it.
The facts remain thus: Erdwin is a spitting image of the Dragon Quest 3 Hero, Dragon Quest 3 Hero’s mother has the same hair color as Serenica, and both Erdwin and Serenica have the Mark of Erdrick and there is no reason to assume their children won’t have it either. Moreover, sealing Calasmos seems to be the best bet, or alternatively, Erdwin and Serenica ended-up in the future instead of the past.
Now, how can this make sense? Perhaps Yggdrasil sent Serenica and Erdwin to the future to give them a truly happy ending for all their troubles? There seem to be enough heavy implications that they’re actually the parents of Dragon Quest 3 Hero. And, surprisingly enough, it actually quells more plotholes than it could potentially create, since the Dragon Quest II cast are all progeny of Erdrick’s line. It’s possible that Erdwin and Serenica are the progenitors of Dragon Quest 1-3’s main characters while one or both of the side characters of Dragon Quest II are descended from Dragon Quest XI’s lineage. Or perhaps the reverse? Whatever the case it is always interesting to speculate. I definitely don’t think it’s a plothole like some haters seem to be spewing. I think they’re either flung into the future, which seems to be heavily implied and as a result Dragon Quest 3 eventually comes to fruition as a result of the time convergence or Horii’s team is possibly thinking of a sequel of sorts for either a side-game project or as another main game title. I doubt that though, given how complete the story is even as a stand-alone. Perhaps they’ll make a sidestory game of Veronica recovering her true form or Veronica never regaining her original form was just meant to be an unexpected genre subversion. The game definitely feels complete and the True Ending feels incredibly satisfying to me. And as mentioned before . . .
Overall Score: 9.7/10.