You’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of 7th Dragon, but that’s okay: we’re finally getting one of these JRPGs in English and you should check it out when it releases in July. Why? Read on!
1. It’s so stylish.
If you’re a fan of the sort of slick presentation in games like Persona and The World Ends With You, you’ll find a lot to like here. Code: VFD‘s menus are clean and cool, the battle animations are done with real care and attention to feel dynamic and the environments take on distinct palettes so each has a real sense of place.
2. It’s the culmination of a trilogy.
While you really don’t need to know any of the plot from the earlier, not-localized 7th Dragon games, it’s important to know that this is the epic conclusion to this world that’s been building for a decade. That means the game’s packed with places to go, stories to tell and years of monster design work. It also has no problem building up the tension, since it’s not holding anything back for a sequel. All the game you want is here, and you didn’t have to wait through a few installments to make it happen.
3. Its randomness is transparent.
7th Dragon III doesn’t have random battles. It communicates exactly when battles will happen through a danger meter in the top left, so it feels fair and well-paced while still keeping you from being able to avoid conflict entirely. Characters have some skills that trigger randomly, but you can invest skill points to make them more likely. There’s variability in the game, but it feels like it does everything it can to give you agency in the process.
4. There are a lot of fun dragons.
You’ll fight hundreds of dragons in the game and not all of them are totally special, but a lot of effort is taken to make sure fighting them isn’t monotonous. Sure, there are large ones with thick skin and fire breath, but how about one that jumps around like a dog and bites you while compromising its defenses? Or a giraffe-like one with a long neck? How about one that flies away intermittently and spits poison? There are different strategies here, and enough of these types of normal dragon foes to make learning a good one for each a smart use of time.
5. You can know your team as much (or as little) as you’d like.
JRPGs tend to either force character development upon you or give up entirely, and with custom parties like in this game, the latter’s more likely as little effort is invested in the supporting cast if the team can’t write anything about the protagonists. Here, there’s the Skylounge, a place to chat with the various people who join your effort in the adventure, even progressing to a date or two if you feel it’s worth your time. Or you can never go there at all! Completely up to you.
6. There’s time travel!
The Code: VFD adventure jumps from past to present to future and back, joining the worlds of the previous 7th Dragon games and, well, generally being cool because time travel is great. It even plays with the concepts of manipulating the timeline, if only on the margins; the premise is that you’re connecting to points about to be wiped out by dragons, so mostly the difference between removing someone from their timeline to join you isn’t noticed because they’d vanish anyway. Still! Come on. Time travel.
7. It’s a Sega RPG.
Picking up 7th Dragon III and playing it is a great way to let Sega know that you want to see more of this kind of obscure Japanese-focused thing in the West. Like Valkyria Chronicles and Yakuza and Sakura Wars! The company’s done a great job since the Atlus acquisition of bringing more of its games Stateside (like Project Mirai and Yakuza 5), but it’s still important to reinforce that there’s a market outside of mobile and European PC strategy games.
You can check out 7th Dragon III Code: VFD when it releases July 12. We’ll have a full review closer to launch!