I will never know whether or not Dragon Quest VII is a well balanced game, and it’s all my fault. I would love to blame this sad state of affairs on Enix, Stephen Colbert, and even Barack Obama, but it is unfortunately a burden that I will have to bear entirely on my own. You see, a couple days before this year’s United States presidential election, I realized I had over a month of full episodes of The Colbert Report to catch up on. I also realized that, if the election didn’t go my way, I would be too depressed to watch them, forever depriving myself of a over month’s worth of hilarity. Hours and hours of free comedy to consume and a love of double tasking meant that I needed to think of something to do while catching up on Colbert. In the end, I decided to keep my hands occupied by thoroughly breaking Dragon Quest VII’s job system.
[[image:cg_dqviiclassart.jpg:This adorable job system concept art is nowhere to be found in the actual game. :center:0]]
I am admittedly an apologist for Dragon Quest. I’m fairly new to the series, and I’ve found it to be considerably more well balanced and less focused on grinding than popular opinion about the series led me to believe. I was able to get through three Dragon Quest games (Dragon Quest IV DS, Dragon Quest V DS, and Dragon Quest VIII) without stopping to grind during the main game, and I really enjoyed all of them. They’re a simple and relaxing way to unwind after work, and they never punish you too much for making a mistake. Things were moving along smoothly in Dragon Quest VII as well, until I opened up the job system and just couldn’t help myself. I had to break the game.
This nearly always happens to me in games with robust skill systems. Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics were also enormous time sinks for me, and this problem is exactly why I’ve avoided the Disgaea series, for example. Not because I think I wouldn’t like it, but because I know I’d like it far, far too much. I don’t think I’d be able to stop until I’d wasted countless hours creating characters so strong that nothing could stand their way. I would want to utterly break the game, and I would love doing it. On the other hand, the lack of this kind of a job system is also one of the reasons I liked playing through Valkyria Chronicles, which emphasises battle tactics and offers only a bare minimum of possibilities for character customization. As much as I enjoy playing games like this occasionally, there are simply not enough hours in the day make them a habit.
[Image from Dragon Quest Shrine]