Dragon Quest Your Story equips its JRPG aesthetic but remains narratively pixelated. A naive normal boy, destined to be the hero of light. That aromatic scent for fresh adventure. To prevent the world from plunging into darkness. Yuji Horii’s legendary Japanese series of role-playing games, which admittedly am a personal fan of, finally receives a film adaptation. Specifically an adaptation of ‘Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride’, which has been remade countless times mostly due to the fact it was not originally published outside of Japan (there’s your trivia for the day!).
The story involves a challenger, depicting thirty years of his life from childhood to marriage, who must find the Zenithian hero before Ladja shrouds the world in darkness, unleashing an army of monsters. On his journey, he meets childhood friends Bianca and princess Nera, catapulted into a complicated romantic triangle. And thus commences the love story of ‘Hand of the Heavenly Bride’.
JRPGs are notorious for their lengthy completion times, typically averaging around sixty hours. That also includes story, character, lore and world development, which more than likely comprises of two to three hours. The problem with Your Story, from the offset, is the condensing of a sixty hour game into an hour and a half feature. Details are underdeveloped and the story itself frantically cuts major plot points in order to compress the narrative. Luca, in the space of ten minutes, becomes imprisoned, flees, decides to start his adventure and rapidly learns sword abilities and spells. The imperative sense of progress is instantly relinquished. For the uninitiated, the story will suffice with its shocking final twist that makes you question the preceding events (seriously, ingeniously executed). However, for fans who were waiting for Nera’s sister Debora (appeared in the Nintendo DS remake) or the Hero’s daughter, disappointment will overwhelm. They weren’t included. Prince Harry remains forgotten throughout and the sheer lack of development for its characters were noticeable.
Yet the 3D animation matches the style of newer entires such as ‘Dragon Quest XI’, gloriously depicting a fantastical world of endless possibilities, even if the decision to not use Toriyama’s art style was a dire shame. The battle sequences were excitingly animated and brought life to classic monsters such as metal slimes and sabrecats. “Swoosh!”, “Kerfrizzle!”, “Zoom!”. The environments were wonderfully textured and the artificial lighting well utilised in caves and basements. Embedding retro gameplay of ‘Dragon Quest V’ was also a nice touch for fans.
Yet despite the superb technical qualities and clever third act twist, Your Story never involves the audience and is unable to condense an extensive tale into a minuscule feature. An empty shell of its original source material.