Breath of Death VII (2011)

boxshot BreathofDeath

Western retro-jRPG styled after the 8-bit Dragon Quest games. Plot is pretty forgettable, despite an actually interesting setup concerning a world of undead after human civilization has vanished. It’s all played for laughs and as always with humor, if it’s not to your taste you prefer it to be over sooner than later. Thankfully the game isn’t all that long.

While it closely emulates the gameplay elements of Dragon Quest, including similar graphic tiles and user interface, it changes how the battle system works. Instead of being a mix of tactics and strategy, characters fully heal after each battle, which takes away strategic considerations like how to survive not just the next trash mob, but a number of them until you reach a safe resting place. Which makes the game a lot easier but also a lot faster-paced. The one slightly limited resource is MP, which also is replenished after each fight, but only a small number. But since brute force is enough for most trash mobs, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

There also a gameplay mechanic that makes physical attacks and spells more deadly, based on a hit-counter (called combo), but I never really watched it all that carefully. Just spamming attacks and magic attacks is enough to get through the entire games without over thinking it.

The number of random battles is also capped in each dungeon and for the entire overworld (a cap for different zones of the overworld would have been better), though you can initiate new battles even after you’ve reached the cap. It’s a nice idea and works more or less as intended, to make random battles not as annoying as they were in those games of old, while still allowing the player to farm for EXP if he’s so inclined.

Dungeons are mostly long, winded and empty corridors with a few treasure chest. Honestly, jRPG dungeons were never very good to begin with and BoD doesn’t improve on the concept. They are pretty boring and finding your way through them and their many dead ends feels like an exercise in futility. Could have learned something from the randomized yet varied and great dungeon design from the better roguelikes or at least implemented some kind of fog of war to make exploration more fun, though this would have gone beyond the jRPG roots the game is copying.

Anyway, while it’s certainly not a great game, if you crave for any reason old Dragon Quest-style jRPGs, it’s a pretty good fit with some interesting and useful modernizations.