It’s a rare thing to be three or four entries deep into a video game series before finally getting one released in a new territory, but that’s exactly what’s happened with Sega’s most recent RPG release 7th Dragon III Code: VFD. This game, despite being titled the third in the series is actually the fourth game to be released, and the first outside of Japan. It takes place in the near future in a world where the return of dragons has more or less forced humanity into hiding.
Story wise, there’s not a lot going on here that’s just going to be something you could call a classic. The world is nearing its end. Humanity has been nearly destroyed and it’s up to a small band of heroes to rally, save the day and rid humanity of the dragon plague. It’s good enough to keep you going, but I didn’t find anything that was overly compelling or something I’d remember for years to come. You start the game going into a virtual reality video game called 7th Encount. What you don’t know is that the game is being used as a recruiting tool by the game’s developer, Nodens Corporation, to pick a team of people they think are capable of taking down the impending dragon invasion. Nodens Corp gets tangled up with a group from the ISDF (International Self-Defense Force) who are also trying to fight the dragons. From there it has a few twists and turns, some of them pretty radical twists.
Luckily that’s not what makes this game so good. It’s everything else around the story. I’ll try not to make too many comparisons to the Etrian Odyssey series, but there is a lot here that is very reminiscent of that series. If you’ve played those games or are a fan of that series you’re going to find everything very familiar and you’ll feel right at home with this game.
From the start you create your own crew of heroes. There are eight classes to choose from, each with a unique look and style, but with multiple options of how they pull off that look. You can choose between male and female versions of every class and nearly a dozen different styles available. Not only that, but you also have the ability to choose from more than a dozen different voices for each of them. How they look is completely up to you and the build of your party is also yours to decide. There are a huge number of possible combinations and making sure each character fits in your party will be important.
You can have three characters in your party at any one time, but you can create up to three different parties that you’ll use throughout the course of the game. Sometimes you’ll be forced to split up into different parties, many times you just get to choose the layout of your main party. You’ll have to find a delicate balance to make sure that no one character gets too far behind, but it can also be very easy to become far overpowered for where you are in the story.
Inside the dungeons, which you explore in third person, you’ll take on all types of creatures in your fight. The battles aren’t exactly random, but you don’t see any enemies on the screen. Instead you have a meter that is colored green and you walk around it slowly gets darker until finally turning red. Once it does that an attack is imminent. You enter into a turn based battle against usually 2-4 foes and go at it.
Each character has a number of different skills at their disposal. Agents have the ability to hack into enemies and get them to fight each other, while also dishing out destruction with the guns available to them. Duelists use card based attacks that many times have elemental effects. There are also martial arts based characters, healers and many other traditional RPG style units that you can use to mix and match in your party to find the best balance.
A very large portion of your fights will be against towering dragons. These opponents on their own are tough, but if you happen to enter one of the random battles close to a dragon then there is a chance that they could get involved and make an already tough fight that much harder to deal with. Taking down these dragons can earn you loads of experience, but more importantly they’ll earn you a type of currency known as Dragon Zenny. This money can be taken back to your main base of operations and used to upgrade your facilities, giving you access to new areas to make your party that much better. You can rest and recover, take other party members on dates or build your skills in these areas or even research new weapons and skills to take into battle.
I’m not fond of the visual style of the game. I’ve never been a big fan of 3D models on the DS or 3DS, but it works here. Each of the characters is unique and the portraits and 2D elements in the game are fantastic. They just don’t look as good when you add that third dimension to them. Each of the different environments that you visit as you travel through time look different from the others. The game really stands out musically. I think the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard in a while.
The 3DS is a great place for unique RPG experiences and I’m glad we’re still getting companies that are willing to put out great, turn based games. If you’re a fan of the Etrian Odyssey series I’d fully expect that you’d find this just as interesting and compelling. It’s very similar to that series, but in 3D. If you’re not, but you’re looking for a good RPG to keep you busy for a while then definitely give this one a good look. And while I’ve got your attention, Sega, let’s get the other games in the series remastered and released over here.
Review copy of the game provided by Sega.
Played through the story in its entirety.