Hey, I'm a sucker for art books. The last time I counted, I had something like fifty video game art books on my shelf–a good chunk of them from Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Xeno games. And since I love art books so much, and since Dragon Quest is my favorite series, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I'm doing a book review for the new art book Dragon Quest X Artworks: The Art of Astoltia.
If you're interested in buying one for yourself, you can find it on sites like Amazon Japan or Play Asia. And, if you'd like to get it fast and without a huge shipping cost, you can grab one from the Collectors Estore in NYC.
What's It About?
The Art of Astoltia has very little commentary, and it's all in Japanese. So, if you can't read it (and I can't), then the big draw here is to look at the pretty pictures. If you're worried about Dragon Quest X spoilers, then you may want to be cautious. Overall, the art book's illustrations don't have many spoilers unless you just think about them too hard. It's an art book, after all, so you don't have to understand Japanese in order to enjoy the pictures.
The book itself is divided up into four sections. There's Image Art (which celebrates holidays and special events, like the photo below), Character (which, you know, showcases character illustrations), World (the largest section, which shows off backgrounds and environments), and Artifact (where you'll find drawings of gear, weapons, mounts, and other goodies).
There's a lot to love about this book, even if you'v never played Dragon Quest X. When I first received the book, I hadn't spent a single second inside Astoltia, and I still loved the art so much that it inspired me to start playing the game (you can read all about that right here, on the Dragon Quest FM podcast). The illustrations are gorgeous, and I especially loved the character sections. Some highlights: pirate cats, a gem slime with a top hat and mustache, and the event wallpapers for holidays like Halloween and Christmas. This book is loaded with drawings, and it definitely feels like you get your money's worth.
There are almost 600 pages of Dragon Quest X artwork to enjoy. Most pages have at least illustrations on them, and a lot have even more. You do the math. There's a LOT to look at. In fact, at the time of this writing, I've flipped through it at least six times and I'm still finding new things to enjoy.
Unfortunately, so much of the book concentrates on the World section. That means around 300 of the pages are showcasing backgrounds and environments. If you like that sort of thing, then you'll have no qualms with this book.
I, however, tend to enjoy character and weapon illustrations more in these kinds of art books. So the plethora of backgrounds wasn't exactly exciting. I've looked at them a few times, and really enjoyed a few of them (like the casino concept art), but the characters and gear concepts keep me coming back.
Because of copyright reasons, I can' share a bunch of these straight from the book, but here are a couple public samples of the Artifact illustrations and the World background environments:
While the World section gets most of the book, the Artifact section is almost non-existent. There are only about 40 pages dedicated to showing off weapons, gear, mounts, pets, cards, and other in-game items. It's a shame, really. I would've liked to see more of it. If anything, it makes the final section of the book feel like an afterthought.
Overall, I love The Art of Astoltia. It made me play Dragon Quest X, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been swayed by it. If you're a fan of Dragon Quest and Toriyama already, then I'd highly recommend it, even if you've never played DQX before. And despite an uneven amount of illustrations going into environments and the lack of artifact art, I can't find a whole lot to complain about.