DreamQuest IX by Guigil Games
DreamQuest IX is a typical low-budget JRPG-style dungeon crawler. Turn-based combat and random encounters abound. While a valiant attempt at providing an interesting story is commendable, narrative revelations are few and far between, and the bulk of the game consists of grinding away in fights.
A Quest for a Story
Giugil Games – it’s actually a single developer – tries to make DreamQuest IX stand out via an enigmatic story. While things begin in typically generic fantasy game fashion with a supposedly endless dungeon through which the hero must venture, there are hints early on that this isn’t the typical JRPG “save the world” plot.
The protagonist is apparently a doctor, for example, despite his typical accoutrements of sword, shield and spells. Further confusing elements include implications of psychological testing – is the entire dungeon some grand game or experiment? – and corporate manipulation, with hints of modernity peeking through the generic fantasy veneer.
A Random Encounter Appears
Unfortunately these hints of a more interesting story are few and far between. The vast bulk of DreamQuest IX involves stereotypical turn-based JRPG combat. With only a single protagonist and few weapons or strategies available, the combat isn’t even that interesting.
Early fights are tough, then once our hero gains a couple of levels’ worth of experience, fights get easy enough to be boring – just keep using the biggest “special attack” and quaff health potions as necessary. Boss fights are tougher but again easy to manage if you’ve got plenty of potions to chug, especially the variety of “Power Potions” which increase combat statistics as well as restoring health.
It’s a Grind
DreamQuest IX would be a bit more interesting if there were a way to skip some of the random encounters and endless indistinguishable fights, but even though the developer’s latest version cuts down on the random encounters, grinding is still inevitable. The hero, after all, won’t be able to win the boss fights without reaching a certain level (NPC encounters remind the player of this frequently).
The end result is a game with a mildly interesting plot revealed in drabs and drabs between endless generic battles that no one but diehard JRPG obsessives will be willing to suffer through.
DreamQuest IX is available via itch.io.