Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride is the fifth installment in the long running role playing game series. It was originally released for the Super Famicom in Japan in September, 1992, but that version never came to North America. The first North American release came in 2009 for the DS, which is the version I am reviewing here.
The thing that first struck me that was different about this game came right at the beginning. This game opens with your main character being born. For some reason, I found that that element hooked me right from the start. There’s a lot of story that goes on here, as the game takes place at various time periods throughout your characters life. Along the way there are some wonderfully powerful emotional situations that take place. You get to see your character grow up, deal with some very difficult life situations, get married, and have kids of his own. I’ve played all of the prior Dragon Quest games up to this one, and I would say this one is the most story driven so far. And it’s a really enjoyable story, too. With many RPGs, the story can get convoluted very quickly, and I find myself just playing for the fun of the battle mechanics. In Dragon Quest V, I wanted to keep playing because I was genuinely interested in the characters, and what was going to happen to them.
Of course, with this being a Dragon Quest game, there’s also the trademark turn based battles to fight, experience to earn, levels to raise, equipment to buy, and all that other fun stuff you’ve come to know and love from a Dragon Quest game. And this game delivers solidly on those points. There’s nothing groundbreaking with this aspect of the game, but Dragon Quest has the formula down so well that it doesn’t need to break new ground.
There were only a couple of things in this game that I really didn’t care for. I’m sure they appeal to some people, just not me. The first of those things is the monster collecting. Occasionally after defeating an enemy, it will ask you if it can join your party. For some reason collecting monsters and having them fight in your party just didn’t interest me in this game. I preferred to have the main story characters in my party whenever possible. Part of it is just the sheer number of monsters, and having to try to decide which ones you want in your party at any given time, and having to level up each one. It just seemed to lead to character overload. I also couldn’t get the same kind of emotional connection to the monster characters in this game as I could to the human story characters. Fortunately, the monster collecting was for the most part an optional activity, so you can just kinda forget about it if you want.
The other thing I didn’t really care for, even though its pretty much a staple in Dragon Quest games, was the casino games. This seems to be a popular thing in RPGs. For me, when I’m playing an RPG, I don’t feel like stopping somewhere and playing slot machines for a half an hour. I’d rather spend my time fighting monsters and leveling my characters up. Fortunately, like the monster collecting, the casino games are also optional. I might have missed some good prizes you can win by playing the games, but I just completely skipped the casino games. There’s another mini game called TNT where you get to roll a die and move around on a board filled with either prizes, traps, or monsters. It’s kind of like a glorified version of Candy Land. I played a few times, but again, these kinds of games aren’t really my thing, and I would just go back to playing the real game.
If it sounds like I’m focusing a lot on the negatives, I really don’t mean to. If you ignore the monster collecting and casino playing, which you can for the most part, I found Dragon Quest V to be an exceptionally enjoyable experience. I started my review saying how enjoyable the story is, and I can’t emphasize that enough. Dragon Quest V contains an amazingly strong, and emotionally driven story that most other RPGs lack. If you are a fan of Dragon Quest, RPGs in general, or strong story driven plots, I highly recommend Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride.
- Extremely strong and emotionally driven story
- Well developed characters you can get attached to
- Familiar Dragon Quest battle/experience/leveling system
- Perfect length; not too long or short
- Monster collecting
- Casino games
4.5 out of 5
View my YouTube review of this game.
Buy this game at Amazon