Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Square Enix
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

I covered the original review for Dragon Quest XI on the PlayStation 4 last year, and as you can tell by the review, I really, really dug the game. While not necessarily re-inventing the wheel when it comes to Dragon Quest games, it had been a good, long while since we had a console release for Dragon Quest, and it was a real treat to play through one again. 

So, when it comes to the release of Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch, I won?t dwell on much regarding the base game. My thoughts and opinions from the first review haven?t really changed, and regardless of the additional bells and whistles present here, you should still absolutely give Dragon Quest XI a shot. That said, if you?re going to play Dragon Quest XI, they?re calling this one the Definitive Edition for a number of good reasons.

The biggest draw in Dragon Quest XI S for me has to be the new 2D mode. This had been unveiled way back when Dragon Quest XI was originally announced, and it?s taken a while to get it, but it?s really worth the wait. The 2D mode basically shrinks down the 3D version of the game into an SNES-era style Dragon Quest adventure. Characters, dialogue, story, and locations all remain intact, but with the 2D sprite-based look of the 16- and 32-bit era Dragon Quest releases. And honestly, that description almost sells this mode short. The sprite work in 2D mode is really outstanding, with highly detailed environments, characters, and dungeons to explore. It?s a really great looking version of the game, and quickly became my default way to play this release. 

The only drawback is that the transition from 3D to 2D and back again isn?t necessarily seamless. You?ll have to visit a church in-game to switch between the modes, and unless you?re doing so at the beginning of a chapter, you?ll likely lose some in-game progress since the transition requires you to pick a starting chapter point. You won?t lose experience earned, money, or items, but that small loss in progress means you won?t likely be switching back and forth between the two modes that often. That said, once you?ve decided on the style you like the most, you probably won?t be looking to switch anyways. 

Other features include new character-specific quests to help flesh out the supporting casts, side quests that feature areas from the Dragon Quest games that have come before, a fully orchestrated soundtrack, and the option to switch between Japanese and English voice acting. These features aren?t necessarily as impactful to me as the 2D mode, but if you?re going to call something Definitive, it makes sense to have all of this included.

The other thing worth noting is that Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age performs really well on the Switch. I?ve played almost exclusively on a Nintendo Switch Lite, and even in 3D mode it holds up really well. Performance is solid, I never really noticed severe framerate issues, and load times feel in line with the PS4 version of the game if not better. 

Note: Nintendo provided us with a Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A