Final Fantasy, and more so Dragon Quest, have long been light fantasy adventures, but it looks like both are exploring a darker tone.
Dragon Quest 12 was announced recently, and marks a change of tone as its sister series Final fantasy has been walking for years. Final Fantasy 16 and Dragon Quest 12 seem to bring both franchises into darker territory, especially for the Dragon quest franchise. However, both series are going well right now, and turning to a more adult audience for such classic franchises will be interesting to say the least.
It seems clear from what little information fans have to date that Dragon Quest 12 may be drastically different from previous main games. Series creator Yuji Horii has made some vague but pointed remarks about the game’s departure from his predecessors. Its title trailer is also ambiguous, but looks like solid proof. Dragon quest historically featured vibrant visuals designed by Dragon ball creator Akira Toriyama, but the new trailer showed dark colors and fiery flames etched on the new logo. This probably represents a change of tone for the playoffs.
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Dragon Quest 12 and Final Fantasy 16 move to darker places
Final fantasy on the other hand, he’s much more familiar with murkier waters and heavier storylines. Death of main characters, life-changing events, and villains with levels of serial killer depravity are all places Final fantasy went before. But often those heavier tones are offset by vivid color schemes, whimsical characters, and mini-games that at times even seem to contradict the tone of its overall stories. Final Fantasy 16 seems to be heading for a much darker place, however.
Contrary to Dragon quest, Final fantasy has had a trend of darker stories for a while now. The immediate predecessor, Final Fantasy 15, dealt with the themes of loss and inevitable sacrifice. This game featured some of the same more colorful distractions along the way, like fishing and other mini-games. Final Fantasy 16 may end up being a big deviation from older games in more than one way. While there haven’t been many disclosures about the game since its initial trailer, this debut and the information added to the official site about its world all carry a very heavy atmosphere with them.
For Final Fancy, this is a notable but expected evolution towards more mature themes. The surprise of Dragon quest going in that direction is probably more shocking to fans. Dragon quest has long been marked by its colorful visuals and generally lighter stories. Its heroes have yet to save the world, but they often don’t see the kind of horrors that many Final fantasy some have. Especially after the success of the incredibly traditional Dragon Quest 11, it seems surprising to bring the series into heavier territory, although that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Dragon Quest 12 heading into darker territory is more surprising
Since the announcement of Dragon Quest 12 many are probably pondering the development decision to move into darker territory. The series wasn’t aimed specifically at kids, but its clearer tone and colorful aesthetic continued to attract new fans with each entry. Deciding to move the franchise to a more adult-oriented location may be a reflection of Square Enix acknowledging its dedicated fan base who has aged alongside the franchise. Giving something more suited to those older fans might turn out to be a good move on his part.
The darker direction for both Final fantasy and now Dragon quest also testifies to their growing appeal in the West. Real-time combat movement for the Final fantasy franchising has largely been an effective decision so far, and the same may prove to be true for Dragon quest. It’s not confirmed, but Horii has also said there will be changes to turn-based combat as well. Now that Dragon quest Approaching its 35th anniversary, the series has taken root very strongly in Japan, but this darker direction could be an attempt to rock the West even further. It should be borne in mind that with so little information on Dragon Quest 12, this is entirely speculative.
While bringing Final fantasy and Dragon quest in more adult areas, it seems that Square Enix is using its spinoff games from each franchise to maintain a more traditional and leaner approach. Although strongly influenced by Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts has largely transformed into its own entity. Dragon quest can do pretty much the same with games like Dragon Quest Builders 2 and the newly announced Treasures of the Dragon Quest. Keeping two distinct tones might work well for Final fantasy and Dragon quest, because they theoretically seek to attract new fans while keeping a segment of their respective brands lighter.
Dragon quest the games are among the most popular in the industry. It is likely that fans will fear a change in the trajectory of the series. For a long time Final fantasy fans are used to dark stories, this could be a big departure for Dragon quest Fans. But every franchise will still need to pay attention to the scope of this change. While Final fantasy gamers are probably less averse to adult themes or darker tones, there is still a certain charm that many will want to see preserved. Part of what makes the heaviest stories in Final fantasyhistory are moments of rest and respite. Dragon quest will walk an even tighter rope in this regard.
So much of what made Dragon quest games throughout its history has been this light and charming tone. That’s not to say that gravitating towards more adult themes will be a bad thing for the series, but it will need to be handled with care. Not just for the sake of the fans but for the plot of Dragon Quest 12 himself. It might be shocking for players to find themselves running around to stop some violent or doomsday event and then fighting off some soft-faced Slimes and Cruelcumbers. While it’s unlikely to be such a drastic change, it will certainly be interesting to see how Dragon Quest 12 and Final Fantasy 16 manage their movements towards darker themes.
Dragon Quest 12: Flames of Fate is currently in development.
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