7th Dragon III Code: VFD, a mouthful of a title and a title that comes with some unfortunate tidings. While the game was technically developed by SEGA, the 7th Dragon series itself was created by Imageepoch a now-defunct Japanese Video Game Developer. Imageepoch’s final game Stella Glow, which we reviewed here, came out earlier this year in the west but 7th Dragon III Code: VFD could be seen as their final goodbye. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is said to be the third and final sequel in the 7th Dragon series but is the first to actually make its way outside of Japan.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD is set in the year 2100 and follows the Nodens Enterprises a video game company currently running a popular VR game. That, however, is just on the surface, the VR game is actually a recruitment tool to find people with the potential of fighting the Dragons. Unbeknownst to the general population, the Earth is actually facing extinction at the hands of the 7th Dragon, the true dragon – VFD. To stop the awakening of the 7th Dragon, Nodens plan to work outside of any military and have developed a portal that allows them to send teams into various periods in time when the Earth has faced threats from the previous Dragons. By doing this they can collect Dragon samples and find a way to stop the true dragon – VFD.
The premise of the game does sound pretty good as was the opening hours of the game setting up the world. The story elements do start to trail off there though as the game is very clearly a simple dungeon-crawler, you go from level to level defeating bosses then onto the next. The formula is simple but solid. Outside of the Nodens Enterprises your characters are custom created and silent for the most part just there and along for the ride. There are some dialogue choices within the game but generally, lead to the same answer. They are worded in ways that reach the same point but give your character a slight personality change depending on which you choose. Ultimately, there is no impact on the story based on which reply you choose.
The characters that do possess a personality can be mostly found in the Nodens Enterprises and they have some very interesting ones at that. You can see from the start that there is something a little off by these people but you go along with it as you have a responsibility to save the world. Nagamimi is the first member of Nodens that you met and wow is that a fun journey. This little-stuffed rabbit with style reminds me of Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, on the surface, he may look cute but there is definitely something much deeper and possibly sinister afoot. That can be said about the whole of Nodens which made the made a constant double guessing game. So while the story may be light on dialogue there is a solid foundation there which keeps things interesting throughout.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD is a dungeon-crawling RPG in which you’re made to create a party of characters complete with how they look and sound. It might not be the deepest system but it was simple and easy to put together. I always find that some games really over-complicate these character creation systems and without a deep knowledge of how stats affect certain things you’re more than likely to be stuck with a broken party or character. This is why I generally dislike this system but thankfully here it is done in a way that anyone can understand. Be careful, however, as a good sense of synergy in party balancing helps.
The actual dungeon-crawling aspect of the game is a little different to the norm as it is not first-person and grid-based. It is very linear but you can roam freely controlling your party of three as you wish. Battle’s are pretty standard turn-based but the variety in class-specific skills really stands out. Battle’s can be massively enjoyable with the depth in the skill system and boss battles generally require some good strategies to beat. You can set the difficulty at the beginning of the game and change at any point during the gameplay but, even so, the game is fairly easy. Until you fight a boss that is. The difficulty spikes can catch you off guard but like most games of this type, a little grinding here and there is always recommended, as is coming up with an effective strategy.
I think the best feather in this game’s cap is how it keeps all of its elements simple but solid. It’s been a really enjoyable playthrough and never once have I felt anything is needlessly over complicated or hard to understand. One of my biggest hates is overly complicated tutorials at the start of a game but this game bypasses all that and puts you straight into the action with little but all the information you require and then you off and tackling the world within the first hour. I can only commend the decision making in regards to all of these elements and I’m so thankful for it.
Now, this is a Nintendo 3DS title so don’t expect anything too visually amazing and dungeon-crawlers aren’t generally the most visually impressive titles regardless of the platform anyway. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD, however, is still a great looking game, characters have a Bravely Default styling which I love and the world itself is full of vibrant colours and great designs. The enemies designs can feel a little samey but the boss dragons are very impressive. The soundtrack is good and compliments the game but I can’t recall any particular track as they tend to blend into each other.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD will not appeal to everyone based on its genre but within that genre, it is a solid title. Long-time fans and newcomers will find something to like within this game. It's simple and never over-complicates its features making for a very enjoyable experience. I feel that this game is likely to fall under the radar for many but if you get a chance then I definitely recommend giving it a go, you will not be disappointed.