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Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter is the fifth and currently[when?] final entry in the Breath of Fire series, released for the Playstation 2 in 2003 to generally positive reviews. It's a considerable departure from the previous entries, which were much more traditional eastern RPGs.
An unspecified amount of time in the future, humanity has fled the barren, polluted surface world after a catastrophe to live underground. However, the world below is just as miserable: only the rich and powerful have access to the upper levels where the air is clean, and every single citizen is assigned a number referred to as a D-ratio, which determines one's place in society. The highest possible number that can be achieved is 1/4, the dragon quarter of the title.
Our lead character Ryu possesses the abysmally low D-ratio of 1/8192 and is expected to spend his entire life toiling away with nearly no chance at promotion. Everything changes when he accidentally bonds with a dragon and gains the ability to morph into one at the expense of his humanity. Along the way, he meets Nina, a mysterious young woman with wings grafted onto her back, and becomes determined to escape to the surface with her. They are eventually joined by Lin, a Trinity member who helps them for reasons of her own.
Dragon Quarter has some very interesting gameplay mechanics. The SOL (Scenario Overlay) system encourages you to restart the game from the beginning of the story while retaining items and experience and raising your D-ratio, which allows you to access new cutscenes. The dangers of morphing into a dragon are reflected in the D-Counter, which goes up in percentage every time you use those abilites (and even outside of battle, when you aren't) and can only be lowered through restarting the game through the SOL system. While you're allowed to suspend your game through quicksaves that are deleted once you resume, permanent save files could only be created through rare save tokens, making the game quite a challenge.
Here's the character sheet.
- After the End: The story takes place 1000 years After the End, when humanity is driven underground by a Hopeless War that renders the surface uninhabitable.
- Alternate Universe: From the rest of the series.
- And Now for Something Completely Different: While the other games in the series are more of a traditional Eastern RPG, this is a game with Survival Horror elements.
- Beneath the Earth: Pretty much the entire plot and background of Dragon Quarter.
- Bilingual Bonus: In addition to the dragon names, the entire game intro is recited in Russian. In a second variant of this, only in German and obscured via the use of Cypher Font in the game's opening animation.
- Blood From the Mouth: Happens to Bosch when he is defeated by Ryu for the last time (with both sides fighting as Half Human Hybrids); Bosch asks Ryu to perform a Mercy Kill on him, and spews blood when Ryu runs him through with his own claw.
- Also happens to Ryu when Bosch stabs him in the throat with his rapier, full with blanked eyes.
- Body Horror: Nina in Dragon Quarter is not a princess. She is in fact some poor girl genetically engineered into an air purification device. It works by shunting all of the pollution to the girl, thus driving the initial goal of the characters to get her to the (supposedly) clean surface. Oh, and she had her tongue cut out because machines don't need to talk.
- There is also a room full of the failed results of previous attempts (in various stages of development), kept preserved in formaldehyde-filled tubes. This is no doubt intended to make them easier to study by the scientists who are working on this project, and not at all to freak out anyone passing through.
- Also, the entire process of how Bosch got his own Deadly Upgrade.
- In the Nonstandard Game Over, which you get from pushing the D-Counter to 100%, we see a silhouette of Ryu twitching violently, before a dragon erupts from his body, rending it to shreds. You don't see much, but it's still scary as hell.
- Bonus Dungeon: Kokon Horay. In order to reach it, the fairy colony must be at maximum level.
- Crapsack World: Dragon Quarter's setting was all below ground, where humanity (and everyone else) was driven when a massive war ripped apart the surface. This leads to a series of abandoned tunnels and cramping issues which make Tokyo Underground look spacious, as well as severe pollution issues.
- Critical Status Buff: The "Soul" class of shields boost the wearer's Defense as their HP decreases.
- Curb Stomp Battle: It LOOKS like Bosch has just issued you a Nonstandard Game Over... and then D-Dive activates. Cue extremely justified Oh Crap from Bosch.
- Cypher Language: Dragon Quarter invented an entire pseudo-Cyrillic script. It turns out the writers hid many an Easter Egg and even some downright spoileriffic material in the artwork and even in-game, even though the script was never used in the game mechanics.
- And at least one Japanese fan made an unofficial Truetype font based on the documented character set in the artbook.
- Darker and Edgier: The Breath of Fire games tended to be, overall, lighthearted, even if they had occasional dark spots. This one, not so much.
- Deadly Upgrade: The entire process of linking with D-Constructs.
- Dynamic Entry: Chetyre.
Does it hate?
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Ryu manages to deliver Lin and Nina to the gate of the sky; however, he has a 200% dragon ratio. But as the party separates, Odjn releases Ryu from his bond, preventing him from being consumed, and he rejoins the party in the surface with a clear blue sky.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In successive playthroughs of the game, it's possible to raise Ryu's D-ratio to 1/4, but in-story, he's still treated as a low-D grunt.
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: A major theme of the backstory of Dragon Quarter. Genetic Engineering is such an effective Weapon of Mass Destruction, in fact, that scientists in the past managed to create dragons as weapons which proceeded to cause The End of the World as We Know It. What's left of humanity is still living underground over a millenium later.
- My Greatest Failure:
- Elyon: refusing to open the door to the sky when he was a Chosen of Odjn. He feared that it wasn't his own decision, and this resulted in Odjn breaking his link with Elyon.
- Bosch: being defeated by Ryu. Much of this is because Bosch is a "Well Done, Son" Guy who was pressured to excel, and he just can't handle being defeated by a low-D; this leads to a descent from being The Rival to a full-blown Villainous Breakdown.
- La Résistance
- Power Levels: D-Ratios in Dragon Quarter determine a person's potential in life and are therefore used as criteria for determining social status and prospects. 1/8192 means you're stuck as a grunt for life, 1/64 makes you a super-elite, while 1/4 more or less marks you as a Physical God. The more accurate description of the D-Ratios is the likelihood of a successful linkup with a D-Construct, but exactly what they base this on is never elaborated on, and while you can raise your Ratio up to 1/4 in a New Game+ by playing through the game quickly, opening as many treasure chests as possible, killing a lot of enemies and getting first strikes on the majority of them, finishing the Bonus Dungeon, saving as little as possible and having your characters leveled up as high as possible, it doesn't effect the storyline and only allows you to explore a few bonus areas and allows you to get a better version of the game's Infinity+1 Sword.
- Puzzle Boss: Hortensia is one: she uses her ability to turn the floor colors, and one of her spells will either hurt or heal the person standing on it depending on the color (she floats, and is immune to either effect).
- Shielded Core Boss: The final bosses and some end-game enemies have what is known as "Absolute Defense", where you have to deal a minimum amount of damage (in the form of a negative damage number) in a single turn before you actually hurt them.
- Theme Naming: Mostly ties into You Are Number Six, but there are some additional examples; the Regents mostly have names that are theological references:
- Elyon is traditionally a Hebrew epithet for God.
- Jezuit is a reference to the Jesuit religious order.
- Deamoned is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Tantra is a reference to a specific estatic Buddhist religious school, and Cupid is the Greek god of love.
- The Regents and major characters not named after theological references, Russian numbers, or direct shout-outs to the earlier games in the series are named after Greco-Roman philosophers and orators. Zeno shares a name with a famous Greek philosopher who (per the Other Wiki) wrote extensively about paradoxes and the nature of reality, and Hortensia shares a name with an orator who (again, per the OtherWiki) led the Roman Senate to partially repeal taxes on female nobles.
- Took a Shortcut: Jaju, Arma and Leo, better known as the storage, armory and item shop kids, do this shamelessly and have no trouble reminding you of the fact that there is no conceivable reason for why they could possibly show up where they do.
- Trailers Always Lie: One CM for the game, which uses a lot of beta footage, centers around climactic-looking footage of Ryu facing off with Dva in a large, well-lit room that looks something like the area Odjn is in. Needless to say, this is pretty inaccurate in various ways.
- There's also the intro movie to the game with lenghty segment where Ryu slowly walks forward in heavy rainfall while dragging his sword along the ground: while the last part does offer an explanation where the hell the rain is coming from, it doesn't really match up to his surroundings in the earlier parts.
- Trauma Conga Line: Bosch's early childhood Trauma (definitively Type B) is notable because it provides the fuel for Bosch's eventual Villainous Breakdown.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: Why everyone is underground in the first place.
- You Are Number Six: Everyone, save for people who are fugitives from justice (Lin and the rest of Trinity), the Regents, or those unfortunates so low on the totem pole as to be legally considered experimental animals (hello, Nina) have a D-ratio officially as part of their name.
- Elyon has a number-nickname of Origin, a mathematical term for 1.
- Every single dragon in the game has literal numbers (in Russian) as names, based on powers of two. Yes, even Odjn; technically, 2 to the zeroth power is 1.
- Specifically, it appears to be a bad German translation of the Bible verse Matthew 19:30: "(Many of) the first shall be last, and the last shall be first." Quite appropriate, considering the extensive use of Judeo-Christian imagery in Dragon Quarter and its theme that an Audience Surrogate is who ultimately opens the path to the sky.
- And a bit of a shout-out to Fou-lu, whom Elyon is an explicit Expy of.