Review – Dragon Lapis (PC)

Old school JRPG’s don’t come around too often anymore. The first Final Fantasy came out in 1987, and the franchise has evolved and transformed over time. My introduction into the franchise was Final Fantasy VII way back in 1997, and I myself am guilty of not really appreciating the older games in the franchise. KEMCO’s Dragon Lapis is a wonderful throwback to older games of the JRPG genre, and the attention to detail is particularly fascinating.

Dragon Lapis tells the story of Lucas, a royal knight. He also happens to be the descendant of the hero who legendarily battled and sealed away the Silver and Gold Dragons, centuries ago. The Silver Dragon reawakens and seeks to destroy the world. It is up to Lucas and his companions embark on an adventure to find the seven hidden Dragon Lapis in order to save the world.

All of this feels very familiar…

The gameplay in Dragon Lapis will be quite familiar to you if you’ve ever played an old school JRPG. While in a village or castle area, Lucas and his companions can roam around, interact with the village folk, purchase items, or take a rest at the inn. You battle enemies during random encounters while traversing the vast areas of the overworld map or inside dungeons. Battles are turn-based and occur on a separate battle screen, as to be expected.

Apparently, this game takes place in Quahog.

The attention to detail throwing back to the retro RPG’s of the 80’s is fantastic. The art style is intentionally reminiscent of the earlier Final Fantasy games. There were times in the game where I wasn’t sure which direction some of the characters were facing, and some of the signage was hard to understand. This is just a small quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.

If we get tired, we can stay at the local “IHH.”

The sound design is no exception in regards to the attention to detail. All the weapon hits, special attacks, and other sounds harken back to the retro age of video games. The music was a highlight for me. The different songs for the overworld map, the towns, the dungeons, and the battles were so well done and they fit the areas perfectly. Even the music for sleeping at the inn was a nice homage to older games. There is no voice acting, and the dialogue is well done and pretty funny sometimes.

Timely commentary.

Dragon Lapis is such a love letter to games like Final Fantasy, almost to a fault. In fact, it is so close to those games that it almost makes me think “why should I continue playing this when I could just play those original games?” It’s kind of like the Stranger Things of Old School JRPG’s. The game did a great job of recreating the art style, the music, and the atmosphere, which creates a great amount of nostalgia, without elevating or enhancing the material at all. I enjoyed the experience of playing the game, and I think people who have never played this type of game would enjoy it as well. However, I would hope that people who play this game would also seek out all of the original games that inspired Dragon Lapis.

Graphics: 8.0

The art design is obviously an homage to older games such as Final Fantasy. I just wished the game could’ve done something to enhance or elevate the material.

Gameplay: 8.0

The gameplay is very reminiscent of old school JRPG’s and it was enjoyable overall. Controls on the PC version were pretty simple and easy to navigate.

Sound: 9.0

The sound was pretty basic as far as retro sounds go, but the music in particular was a highlight for me. The music was appropriate for the different areas and really well done.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The game was enjoyable overall, but it takes from many inspirations and offers very little original thought. I think rather than replaying this, I would play the games that inspired this.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Dragon Lapis is available now on PC, 3DS, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Dragon Lapis was provided by the publisher.