Go throughout time and slay dragons in this promising RPG from Sega coming this July.
Before diving into Sega’s upcoming 3DS RPG 7th Dragon III Code:VFD, I had little to no knowledge of the relatively recent Sega series. 7th Dragon first kicked off in Japan on the DS in 2009, followed by a PSP sequel a few years later. This 3DS game, the first in the series released in America, came out in Japan last fall. It’s a dungeon-crawling RPG that owes a lot to the Etrian Odyssey series from the now Sega-owned Atlus, especially since the first game’s director also shepherded the Etrian series years earlier.
The setup is this: you’re in future Tokyo and the game company Nodens Enterprise is running a dungeon-crawling VR game where you fight dragons. Turns out the game-within-a-game is a recruitment device for a ragtag private company looking for dragon hunters to help save the world from the dreaded 7th dragon. So, you create your three-person party from a few classes and start taking on quests for Nodens while also working with the government to get samples of each of the seven dragons throughout time.
The dungeons, at least early on, are straightforward with a few branching paths. Nothing has been too challenging so far (though there are easily togglable “Standard” and “Casual” difficulty settings if it does get too hairy for you), but it’s been fun to experiment with the four classes available at the outset of this mostly rudimentary turn-based battle system. Samurai is mostly an offensive class, but it has a trick of having two different weapon types, each with their own specific skills. I’ve only dabbled in one of the weapon types, avoiding messing with the one that has all kinds of stances to choose from. As it stands, I love my Samurai for dishing out huge damage (and having a low-cost self-healing skill).
Early on, I didn’t know what to make of the God Hand class, which mixes close-quarters melee with healing abilities. The healing was crucial, but it took me time to figure out the crux of the character. How it works is that you have to chain skills to build up “God Depth” on an enemy. As you do so, you can start using more damaging attacks. God Hand has been crucial for long, challenging dragon fights as she builds up to take fools down.
The Duelist was my last class I used for my first party of three. The class is kind of a magic user, but it builds up a hand of cards to use different skills, though it seemingly takes a helluva lot of damage. In addition to elemental attacks, the Duelist also lays out traps. One later skill I’ve come across is one that does massive damage when you have three traps laid out. A lot of the battle system seems to develop far more in longer battles where you can set up and execute strategies that make your team’s abilities work even better.
Agent was the odd class out in my first trio, but from a little dabbling, it seems like this character has a focus on hacking enemies to make them work for you or fight each other. It seems like a novel concept that could lead to crazy combos with other classes, but I haven’t felt the need to ditch my main trio to try it out more.
In total, 7th Dragon III has eight classes (the last four are Rune Knight, Fortuner, Mage, and Banisher), the latter of which slowly get unlocked as you progress. There’s an incentive to mess around with all of them as your party is split periodically and you have to use different groups of three. Fortunately, once you create characters, they level up alongside your main party. It’s a great way to encourage experimentation, even if I’m pretty settled on my party of three deeper in the adventure.
After the first few hours of 7th Dragon III, I’m totally hooked. It’s a very Etrian-like experience with dungeons to explore, unique classes to play, and oversized monsters to fight. We’ll see how it holds up over the promised 40+ hours of gameplay when we have our review around the game’s release on July 12.