Dragon Quest over the course of its 30 years’ strong life have reserved a special spot among the most revered, the most critically acclaimed JRPG franchises of all time. However; it had occasionally difficult times trying to find acceptance and inclusiveness in the western market, despite the quality of each iteration of the mainline games, it was odd that the series wandered around the threshold of the western market. Having drawn the attention of the gamers outside the border of the land of the rising sun, did not help it generate high sales, that led to Square nix blowing hot and cold in localizing the games. It’s faithful fanbase longed hopelessly and had to wait for an extended amount of time before they delve into its magical world, thanks to series of delays regarding the localization of the Dragon Quest games. Dragon Quest had always distinguished itself with perfectly woven thick narratives, and unwavering loyalty to the elements of the Japanese RPG even though many beloved JRPG series’ succumbing to the Westernization epidemic, Dragon Quest remained true to its roots.
As the series finally managed to let Western gamers fall head over heels into its love, localized version followed the Japanese version in a short time. What undeniable is that Dragon Quest has created a “World”, a universe of its own, over the course of the past 30 years it had many detours from the mainline turn-based RPG games, whether it was Minecraft-esque Dragon Quest Builders or the Dynasty Warriors spin-off Dragon Quest Heroes, little of those worlds were present and a whole much of Dragon Quest enforced its presence, both ingredients from said titles have been stewed to perfection, both spin-off games wonderfully managed to preserve the charm of Dragon Quest.
Among the growing library of Dynasty Warriors spin-off came Dragon Quest Heroes. The original was well accepted by both the critics and fans, part for preserving the charm of this beautiful universe, and partly because it managed as well to break from the habit of the original mainline games, it contributed by adding layers of depth to the Dragon Quest universe, by adding complete voiceovers to a series know of having no recorded dialogue.
The sequel here intends to follow on the success the series had with the first one. This is a living breathing universe of its own right, I can break this game of being part Dragon Quest and part Warriors, there will be times over the course of this 25 plus adventure that well known elements of both universe impose themselves, the game really shows its strength when it is Dragon Quest, when it is Dragon Quest it is fun, exhilarating and enjoyable experience that keeps the sense of boredom at bay. Sadly; when it embraces, and highlights its Dynasty Warriors side, the sense of boredom that those Musou game are notoriously known for creeps inside, it’s not all flaws, but it negatively affects the experience. How’s that you say? I will try to enlighten you with this matter.
First; this is a Dynasty Warriors spin-off, so for those of us who are familiar with the game, you can expect the same traditional Dynasty Warriors style of hack and slash gameplay of orgy of bloodshed, mashing off simple buttons to thin the insane hordes of enemies charging at you in insane droves. You walk around battlefields, swinging your swords cutting off enemies like tufts of grass, reaching what seems like an impossible feat of killing 10,000 enemies in matter of minutes really tickles the dark side inside any of us. There are some refreshing elements sprinkled on the traditional gameplay, which helps add fresh feel, the returning monster coins helps you great deal in tipping the scale in your favor, the battle system is well done and it is fun in general, don’t let the appealing charm of the game deceive you, as your metal will be truly tested oftentimes against a damage sponge of both bosses and colossal enemies. The rage meter that fills up as you deal damage is here, resulting in flashy moves and pumping up your strength to dish out some serious punishment, ending with screen cleaning flashy super move, it is satisfying as ever and never feels old. The battle system is not all Dynasty Warriors styled, it also has Dragon Quest in its DNA, RPG magic spells, and skills, the traditional JRPG style of gaining EXP and leveling up that really plasters a wide smile on your face, the party system of JRPG are all elements that truly elevate the gameplay to new highs.
The game consists of straight forward objectives like taking out bosses, escorting NPCs, running errands for them, and so on. You engage in battles both in the wild and in a series of story battles, the former shows the game’s Dragon Quest side of roaming freely to your heart’s content, running afoul, and stumbling into nest of monsters, taking your tail between your knees and hightail from the battle when the challenge proves too much, peeling your eyes, and scouting for your next favorite EXP harvesting spot is fun and it is all Dragon Quest. However, the latter which is having Musou-esque of story battles is not as fun, when the game is Warriors, it is less fun because as you cut down waves of enemies after enemies and as the battles drag on you can’t shake off the feeling of boredom.
What made the first game unique and stand out from the crowded Dynasty Warriors spin-offs are not just preserved in the sequel, much better, it expanded on. To be honest, I have been always vocal in voicing my opinion about the Dynasty Warriors gameplay in general, concisely; I can’t take away from the level of fun and enjoyment of the series, but going after one another static cutscenes, making preparation, and doing battles after another in battlefields consisting of inter-connected closed areas was never been my thing. The Dynasty Warriors games start in high note, fun and all but it usually suffocates at ¼ way through the game. With Dragon Quest Heroes II, it finds a breather.
Initially; I wasn’t expecting much from a Warrior spin-off, but believe me what I have experienced since the very first hour of the game has completely left me reeling in awe. This is another aspect which Dragon Quest II truly shines bright, the game starts in a high note in terms of nostalgia, as you open to the wilderness you realize how JRPG this game really is, with wide open areas inter-connected with JRPG cities and towns, it instills nostalgia like no other game does in recent memory.
One of the huge improvements over the original game is the amount of freedom this game offers. The cities as you expect from Dragon Quest have a life of their own, they are not short of NPCs, Shops, Inn, even the church that we are all used to save our game in are back.
The wild open areas, are truly a homage to the pure unadulterated JRPG games that we all yearn for. Stunning maps of good old JRPG worlds, adorned with cherished JRPG spots that stakes the right note with the fan of the series. Every area, whether it is dust filled deserts or lush green jungles are brimming with life, seeing slimes lazing around the landscape is a remarkable sight! The open World truly make it feel like an RPG not yet just another Dynasty Warriors game. The monsters are thick on the area, wandering around aimlessly, the crew of baddies are the same ones of Dragon Quest monsters from Slimes and Skeletons, to ghouls and imps. You have the freedom of engaging them in battles or avoiding them altogether by steering clear from their line of sight, it is completely up to you, the joy of harvesting experience by finding your favorite spots to do so, or going after side quests and earn rewards, and gathering loots are all crystal clear evidence from Square nix, one of the people who wrote the book of Japanese RPGs that this beloved genre never gets old. This game is not flat-out hack and slash game, it is exploration focused, JRPG inspired one.
The story although does not bear close resemblance to the core Dragon Quest universe as does the battle and roaming system, is surprisingly good. As in the case of the first game, you are given the option of choosing between a male and female character, cousins this time around and not friends. Even though both characters are two sides of the same coin in terms of moves and skills and weapon arsenals, it goes much deeper than having the access to the same arsenal of weapons and skills, or having mere aesthetic and gender differences, they have their unique character traits that parts them from each other, the chemistry between them is hilarious and fun. You follow their quest to uncover the movement beneath the surface, their adventure amid embattling neighboring countries, in a world divided into seven kingdoms, trying to unwrap the mystery behind the wars and invasions. You don’t need any knowledge about either the mainline Dragon Quest titles or the first game to keep up with the story which is a plus. The elements of the game are so well woven together that I beg to differ with the opinion of some, who consider it as an appetizer for the main course which is the upcoming main game entry Dragon Quest XI. Make no mistake, after experiencing this game I can wholeheartedly say that this is a main course.
The game supports an eclectic cadre of likable characters, I easily warmed up to them and found myself praising the chemistry between them, the dialogues are well written, and the English Accent voiceovers are top notch. Even better, each individual feels unique from the other, both of the hero and heroine are ideal to lash out with rapid sword swing with the ability to wield double swords, one of my personal favorite the Knight lady Desdemona is superb in landing staggering attacks, and dealing with larger enemies, whereas the much beloved, fan-favorite Torneko instantly proves his worth to be permanent member of your roster. All other characters have impressive repertoire in general but Torneko has more diverse moves working as both healer and hard hitting character, there is an impressive amount of characters that join your party, and you can switch between them on the go in and outside of battles.
In the tail end comes a competitive multiplayer mode, in which you pair up with you buddies and embark into dungeons that are even playable in single player, having playing them with a buddy of yours instead of NPC characters gives you edge in battles, harvest EXP much faster, and collect loots, the time you spend in dungeons with your buddies will be cash in into perks in the main game, making it both fun and worth your time, not to mention an impressive array of free DLC coming forward, this gives a significant amount of replayability.
In the end; I really liked this game, even though I am not really into Dynasty Warriors as you must have thought about in between the lines, I honestly liked it. Chalk it to preserving not only the charm of Dragon Quest but staying true and representing the pure JRPG elements; Omega Force’s suffocated Dynasty Warriors franchise finds a breather in Dragon Quest Heroes II’s exploration focused JRPG inspired gameplay, and the series have taken into brighter direction, it is in the right path of being much enjoyable much deeper experience.
Dragon Quest Heroes II was reviewed using an PlayStation 4 redeemable code of the game provided by Square Enix. The original game was released in Japan in 2016 in both retail and online store releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Exploration focused gameplay.
• It is literally a JRPG!
• Classic Dragon Quest soundtrack
• Stunning JRPG-esque open areas and cities.
• Lovable characters with unique abilities
• High Replay value
• Shows its weakness when it is all out Dynasty Warriors style.
• When the battle drags on for so long, it becomes gradually boring.