7th Dragon III Code: VFD is one of those games you kind of fall through, figuring it out along the way. It leads to a fair few, ‘wait, what?” moments (for me at least), but it certainly saves you from being babied through a super obvious tutorial. Through character interactions it gently educates you about the subtleties of the game. It’s really one of those games where it’s just best to not ask questions.
I’ve been told that 7th Dragon III is one in a series of games by Sega, but despite this it holds up well on its own. At no stage did I feel like I was missing out on any important aspects of the series’ overarching narrative.
The story itself is well crafted, although nothing new. It’s your typical “crisis that can only be solved by the chosen one” scenario. In saying that, this trope is popular because it works. The cut scenes are well done, and not overly lengthy. The game is littered with side characters that you can talk to, some of which that will give you tips and tricks, and others that will build on the story.
Another feature brilliantly done by 7th Dragon III is the music. The techno 8-bit feel vibe really works to hype up the game. Yuzo Koshiro crafted the soundtracks with love and care, and that really comes through in the tunes. But despite the effort the developers put into the soundtrack, they didn’t bother with full voice acting.
I don’t play a lot of games, so my comparison of performance to other games is a bit thin. But even I can say that 7th Dragon III is a pretty standard dungeon crawler. You wander around fighting various beasts, picking up treasures and saving helpless citizens as you go. The map at the bottom screen makes navigation super simple and marks where goodies are kept. If you’re like me and have to make sure you collect literally every last treasure possible (ed’s note: me too), this feature is a godsend.
There’s also a handy gauge in the top left corner of the screen that shows you how close you are to a random encounter with an enemy. At the beginning of the game attacks came with the frequency of a zubat infested cave, but thankfully you gain an item that lowers the rate of encounters relatively early in game play.
If you tend to get lost a lot in games, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD has your back. Not only does it have the helpful map, it also has a NAVI option that tells you what you’re supposed to be doing at any given time.
The game can also be customised to different styles of game play. There are different classes of warriors you can use, starting out with samurai, agent, duels and god hand. You can then later unlock the remains pairs of two as you move through the story.
Each class has a different style of attack and strategy, and each combination of classes changes the way you play the game. If I was a smarter lady (alas) maybe I would have looked them up beforehand. Needless to say, I didn’t, and instead just picked three at random and went from there. Even with this careless strategy I still (relatively) easily determined how best to use each character. After about an hour into the game, it becomes obvious how to best use your mana, different classes of characters, skills and attacks. As you go through and fight battles you gain experience to level up your characters. You can also develop different tools for them to use in game play, to further adjust your experience.
Not only can the character game play be customised, but so can basically everything else. There are a variety of character appearances to pick from, all of which have three colour variations. You also get to pick the type of voice for your character (although it’s all in Japanese) out of a large selection, which gives the game a much more personalised feel.
One of the major flaws I found with this game was the controls. You could walk around using the thumb pad or control pad, but you could only make selections with the control pad. As someone who is used to only using the thumb pad, I thought this feature was awkward.
Overall, I enjoyed playing through this game. The customisation allows for new experiences with each game play through. Despite the story style being a bit clichéd, it’s still got some strong characters alongside an amazing soundtrack. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is out now for the Nintendo 3DS.