Some games like to play with people. They tease you with what might happen or could happen ahead of time. Foreshadowing can be fun, give you hints as to what might be coming, and such telegraphing can make it easier to see how things work in the world. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a game that knows how to play with people. This is a game that foreshadows events rather often and in ways that might make you look to see what could or should be coming soon.
Editor’s Note: There will be Dragon Quest XI spoilers below.
Some of the foreshadowing comes up with regard to characters’ pasts. Every early moment spent with Sylvando before he joins the party shows this is a character who knows more than he lets on, even though he is playing the part of a performer and jester. When you meet with the prince at his performance, Sylvando sees what you are doing. When you participate in the race in his place, Sylvando not only knowingly winks at you, he is the best horseperson in the race. When you beat the Slayer of the Sands, Sylvando purposely binds it in such a way that the prince has to reveal himself. Then, in town, he knows the Knight’s Code. We are being shown that he knows what is happening.
When you finally get to Puerto Valor, Sylvando will slip away from the party at times. Servantes, Don Rodrigo’s butler, recognizes him. We learn he is the son of Rodrigo and was raised to be a knight. He wanted to be an entertainer, so he abandoned that life to pursue his dreams. But, even still, he is an incredibly moral and honorable person who does not hesitate to do the right thing. The hints are there the whole time, showing who and what he is.
The rainbow orbs needed to reach Yggdrasil are another item that come up almost immediately in Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. After meeting Erik in Heliodor’s dungeons, he states that they can not set off on their adventure until he takes care of some important business. He stole a red orb with his former partner and everything else has to pretty much be put on hold until he gets it back. It is a long search that finally results in the duo taking it from Heliodor’s Kingsbarrow vault.
It is a taste of a major series of story quests you end up needing to take to reach that tree floating in the sky. Acquiring the other orbs is a big deal, and this first red orb is a big Chekov’s Gun. Even though Erik never explains to you why it is important that you need to do this right then and there, it is critical that this gets done. Which makes sense later, when you see that you really do need to have all of these orbs so you can make it to Yggdrasil. It means one less thing to run around the world grabbing.
But one of the best instances of foreshadowing I feel comes early in Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. Before you even know time travel will be an element in the game, the game has you time travel. Most of the Yggdrasil visions the hero has are just that: visions. When we see the lumberjack transformed by the imp, we are not really there. When we see Veronica’s last moments and the world tree dying, it is an outside perspective. However, when we have that first Yggdrasil moment in Cobblestone, the hero actually is in the past. He sees Gemma and himself when they were children. He speaks with his grandfather and tells him what happened in the future. Then, when he returns to the past and goes to the place he was told to visit, he finds a box with letters. One is from his birth mother. The other is from his grandfather, who goes ahead and says he met the hero and added a Keystone that will help him survive and travel.
Later in the game, time travel becomes a critical element. After you get to what you think is the end of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, it turns out to not be the end. The post game has you going to The Tower of Lost Time to speak with The Timekeeper and learn you can smash the Time Sphere with the Sword of Light to return to the past. This gives you an opportunity to undo some horrible things. You can save Veronica. You can defeat an even greater evil. And this is all hinted at by that initial time travel early on.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is full of these little hints. It is a game of winks and nods. If you pay attention or are familiar with the way JRPGs work, you might even catch what some of these asides mean as they happen. I did with a few, and it made me feel smart and like I was in the know when something I thought was happening or was a possibility turned out to be true.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is available for the PlayStation 4 and PC. It is also available on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan. It is in development for the Nintendo Switch.