Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King review
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

The good:

Beautiful graphics
Interesting characters
British accents
Combat is enjoyable
Alchemy pot
Some tricky bosses

The bad:

Music tends to go in a short loop (although it's still good)
Random battles may put some people off


I'm going to start out by saying that this is certainly one of the best looking games on PS2, or any console for that matter. The cel-shading seems to fit perfectly with the game, and all the characters and environments look great.

You are a palace guard, mysteriously unaffected by a curse that leaves your palace in ruins and it's people turned into plants after a Jester called Dhoulmagus steals the magic sceptre kept in the castle. The hero is mute and you get to name him (I called him Orta). You set off with King Trode, who's been turned into a toad-like thing, and Princess Medea, who's taken on the guise of a horse. You're joined by Yangus, an ex-bandit, and later by Jessica and Angelo, and all these people are after Dhoulmagus for their own reasons.

This a quite a traditional style RPG, with many traits of that genre. For example there are random battles. They occur with just the right frequency, allowing you to travel a reasonable distance without being attacked so you don't get annoyed. The combat is also turn-based, but it's very enjoyable and snappy.

Of course you gain experience from all these random battles and level up. You gain skill points which you can choose to allocate to the various attributes of the character. After allocating a certain amount of skill points to an attribute you gain a new skill or move in that area.

The landscape is vast. You're free to travel wherever you please around the giant, beautiful-looking land looking for treasure or just wandering around.
The characters all have distinctive personalities and back-stories, and they all have British accents. Being British, I liked this a lot. The voices fitted the characters well and it almost felt like the game had been made with me in mind.

The alchemy pot is a nice way of making new and rare items you can't get any other way. There's a wide variety of weapons and armour to buy but the best items can't be bought. That's where you have to use thr alchemy pot. It's not overly confusing but still has a good depth for making new items, and you often find snippets of recipies and have to figure out the rest from clues.

Overall I found this to be not just the best RPG on the PS2, but also one of the best games on the console. It's a very traditional style RPG which won't appeal to everyone, but if you like that sort of game as I do then you can't afford to miss out on this game.

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