RPGs are full of drama. There are games where destroyed villages, separated families, rampant genocide, slavery, and murder are par for the course. Our parties see the often find ourselves pulled into these conflicts, but aren’t always too connected to the events. We’ll see the after effects and act as the clean up crew, righting wrongs. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is different. Every island has a story and, while our characters may not be the stars, they give us a front row seat to some very involved adventures.
Note: There will be some minor spoilers for Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s earliest islands.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past sets the stage with its first island, to make sure you really understand the gravity of the situation. When Auster, Kiefer, and Maribel place their first fragments in the Shrine of Mysteries, they’re warped just outside the town of Ballymolloy. There, they run across a woman by some graves. Her name is Maeve. She’s a solemn warrior who doesn’t exactly remember why she’s there, but feels she needs to honor the place. After Maribel gives her some flower seeds for the graves, she safely guides the trio to the nearby town. All the women there have been taken hostage by a mysterious monsters. Our group helps get a crystal that would heal the town’s injured warrior, Hanlon, with Maeve again providing an assist along the way. Once Hanlon’s recovered, we go with him to confront the boss and save the day.
Except, the boss isn’t some random mook. It’s Maeve. She’s actually the younger sister of Ballymolloy’s namesake. Her elder brother, Rex, went to protect the village from monsters, but his fellow villagers never provided backup. They left him to die, a dark lord preyed on her at her weakest, and she became a monster. She took the women, but now regrets her action. But, only her death can set them free. She never attacks you during the boss battle. Even when our party moves to defend her, she accepts her fate. Hanlon finally deals the blow that ends things.
A game where a midboss is a familiar face isn’t uncommon. Especially if it’s a conflicted situation where the enemy isn’t exactly evil. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past’s Maeve is a more heartfelt tale. She’s a genuinely tragic figure; all she does is help us up until that fight. Even when it does begin, she never strikes back. It’s one of the most heartfelt enemy encounters I’ve experienced in a game and shows the game’s depth.
The events in and around Frobisher and Faraday are just as touching. Automatons are attacking the region, with the town of Frobisher about to fall. The only hope for the region is a professor named Autonymous. However, he’s still mourning the death of his beloved Ellie, who died while out hunting with his brother, Captain Goodwinding. He’s given up and doesn’t care what happens anymore. That’s when one of these robots ends up on his very doorstep. Intrigued, he plays with the wiring and manages to fix her. E.L.L.I.E. is now on your side. The island is saved, all because Autonymous was able to adjust her programming. When you leave the past, she’s his constant companion.
When you return to the present, the current king of Faraday is trying to find the secret behind the robotic warriors that wandered around the area in the past. He learns that there’s one working automaton – E.L.L.I.E. She’s still at Autonymous’ house, caring for what’s left of her master. She’s stuck in a desperate routine, trying to make soup to revive him. The king and his guards come upon her like that and bring her to the castle. Once there, they remove her parts and begin invasive examinations. However, one of Autonymous’ family’s descendants wants to set things right.
With your help, E.L.L.I.E. is eventually repaired again and restored to her rightful place. The king realizes his mistake. She goes back to her routine. Not long after returning home, however, she falls apart for good. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past once again plays on our heartstrings. It tells the tale of a man who’s lost the person most important to him, finds someone who will never leave him, but then ends up leaving her. Just like Maeve’s story, Autonymous’ and E.L.L.I.E.’s tugs on your heartstrings and leaves you with an important memory of that region.
Pilgrim’s Perdition is the setting of yet another dramatic tale filled with twists and turns. Alltrades Abbey has been taken over by Cardinal Sin. Anyone who comes to change their class has all of their abilities and spells stolen. They’re then dumped in Pilgrim’s Perdition, where they’re trapped. If one of these lost souls uses the SoulStealer sword on five of their fellow victims, they’ll be freed from the forsaken town. It’s there that Nava, a sick young woman, and her devoted brother Zev find themselves trapped. Despite her ailment, Nava takes in your party multiple times. You’re complete strangers and she’s weakened, but she constantly puts herself out.
After one of these occasions, our party walks out to see a warrior in pink armor desperate to leave Pilgrim’s Perdition going through town with the Soulstealer, attacking anyone in his way. He’s about to attack Nava, but Zev gets in his way and protects her. Though the sword doesn’t cut Zev deep enough to take his soul, it counts enough to spring the warrior from this trap. While your party goes with Kasim, another warrior trying to protect Nava, to retrieve a captured Zev.
Due to the attacks and trauma, Nava ends up taking the Soulstealer and joining in a tournament to get revenge on that pink armored warrior for her brother. At this point she’s not only ill, has been mad by the weapon. You have to fight her to save her, using the Soulstealer against her. While this does restore her to her proper senses and kicks off the events that will save everyone in Pilgrim’s Perdition and restore Alltrades Abbey, it doesn’t work out nearly so well for her. This storyline ends with Nava alone in the church, with Kasim gone and her brother, Zev, following the path of the warrior to earn enough money for treatments to ease her suffering. We connect with these characters, these people who we see doing good things. We watch as Nava and Zev suffer, go through extraordinary trials, and are finally saved. But then, at the end, they’re forced to part again.
These are only a few of the stories Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past have to tell. Every single island, without exception, has its own involved story and history. We see every event firsthand, watching as important events unfold. Sometimes the scale is epic, with our group needed to make multiple trips into the past in the hopes of getting things right so a town can be restored. Other times, it’s about doing our best to save even one life and give a lone survivor a reason to live again. Every time, it’s memorable.
With Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past, each moment matters. This isn’t just one story. This is dozens of stories of people. It’s about us saving the world, then seeing both good and bad endings coming from it. It’s no wonder that this is a 100 hour game, because it isn’t as simple as swiftly passing through villages, solving a minor problem or two, and heading on to the next point of interest. We’re spending hours getting involved in all of these people’s stories along the way.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is available for the Nintendo 3DS.