Title: Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the forgotten Past Developer: ArtePiazza Release: 7 February 2013 (JP)|16 September 2016 (EU, NA)|17 September 2016 (AU) Published by: Square Enix (JP)|Nintendo (EU, NA, AU) System: Nintendo 3DS Dragon Quest VII may well be one of the best JRPG about time travel to date. A bold statement, but a statement I feel is the only one adequate to open this text. This journey starts off with a fisher's boy and his best friend, a prince, both of which believe that there is more to their world than the lone island smack-dab in the centre of a vast ocean upon which they live. On occasion, they stumble upon an old temple which grants them access to a place hitherto unseen. After adventuring and fighting a devilish creature, they find a new island, having appeared from the ocean. And so begins their plan - finding all the tablet fragments to find these islands and rejuvenate them. Let me be frank, dear reader - if you are the kind of person who wants a complex story that runs all throughout the game, this title will not be to your liking. Dragon Quest VII starts with a simple setup - which, let's be real for a second, is generally the best - and grows slowly from there on out, but what makes the game stand out is not a grand story. Though such a thing is present, it serves more as the setup for a series of smaller events, some of which intersect, some of which don't. That said, this serves to give off a strong impression of the world and the progression of the events over time. One particular story involves a town, where a man asks a young lady to marry him over the son of the chief, to whom she is financially indebted. However, the story ends with the man running away. In the present, you discover the town, now in shambles, and a new place, a nunnery nearby, on which's graveyard the two lie. A few hours later though, the player meets the man again and learns that, in spite of the story's previous inference, their happy ending never came to be. It is possibly the strongest side story in the game, outside of the events relating directly to the overarching plot. Now, since we ARE speaking of a video game, let me speak of the gameplay. It is good, solid retro JRPG style gameplay. Contrary to popular belief, I found DQ VII to be very un-grindey. As a matter of fact, the game disencourages players to focus on grinding, even once the job system is unlocked, as grinding too much hampers job progression, as jobs (or rather, vocations) are integral to character building, providing all the major skills used throughout the game. There are about 30 in total, I - for some reason - decided to focus on the main vocations and leave the monster vocations by the wayside, which still is plenty enough to conquer the game. It is well managable to go for long stretches of the game without spending hours upon hours getting experience or money. Speaking of progression, I did enjoy that the game does not whack you over with the solution to the next problem and drops a map marker in front of your eyes. In the second chapter, you are given the task to find an item, which will allow you to get the Magic Carpet, which will allow you to access more areas. In any modern game, this would - in theory - be the next thing to do. Instead, you have to explore and find things yourself, sometimes hours after they come up, often continuing the story is the better option to going on a needlessly incessant search that leaves you blind or a cliché fetch-quest. The only time I got stuck was when I completed a portal, but decided to go back and misremembered never having completed its story. If I had to mention any negatives about the game, it would be that its soundtrack was hampered by Kouichi Sugiyama's insistence to not let Nintendo use the orchestral soundtrack - which, for the record, can be found on the internet and it sounds gorgeous - which is a damn shame. The fact that the game only provides you with three save slots is also a bit disconcerting, especially if you wish to use saves to occasionally jump back in the story. Overall, Dragon Quest VII is an excellent game and fits easily in the upper echelon of 3DS RPGs. There's an elegance to its simplicity that I find rare in the feature-laden JRPG of today. Highly recommended, if you are a 3DS owner - though I'd go so far as to say, if you don't own a 3DS yet, this is a good reason to pick one up.