Review: Dragon Quest Heroes
Before there was Pokemon, Digimon, and all sorts of cute and lovable critters that got iconized throughout the year, there was Dragon Quest. Since it’s start on the Super Nintendo in 1986, there’s been over 10 different sequel, and this year, Dragon Quest Heroes (known as Dragon Quest Heroes: The Dark Dragon and the World Tree Castle) is finally released in the Western world as a hack-and-slash game, ditching the RPG turn based structure of the franchise. Is this game worth your time? Or is it just a mere Dragon Quest and Dynasty Warriors fusion?
There’s panic in the Kingdom of Arbera where the monsters once peaceful, have suddenly turned against humans under the influence of an evil spell. In all likelihood, it seems that someone controls these creatures in the shadows, and Arbera’s protectors fully intend to discover who it is. Thus the player finds himself choosing which of the two captains of the Arbera he’ll use for his advanture – Lucéus or Aurora – each distinguished by a the same quirky Dragon Quest known traits of being young and heavy use of hair wax. Throughout the adventure you will meet numerous companions to aid you, including Julieta, a young woman mage that supports you with spells or Dirk, a tank. In total, it will be able to pick from a dozen fighters – well known to veterans of the franchise – to go on a mission with you the leader.
By switching the structure of the game to hack-and-slash, Dragon Quest Heroes does not commit the mistake of getting mired in the throes of the Muso formula based on repeated and annoying combat, but manages instead to impose a gameplay that is respectful of the series. Since Omega Force is in charge of its development, the Japanese studio got out of its Tecmo Koei comfort zone (even though they are a part of the production), and already experimented with the Legend of Zelda series this year. Here, everything revolves around targets to protect, while shredding through waves of enemies that emerge from “malstroms”. Theoretically, by eliminating their guards, you can close each of these portals and curb the flow of monsters, but the time required to achieve this is generally too long to guarantee the safety of your VIP character or item that is crucial to your success.
This is where the monsters medals come in, tokens that are likely to appear when eliminating enemy creatures and then used to invoke them to fight on our side (It’s the original Pokemon after all). You will have to put them intelligently on certain locations of the map, so that they defend that spot, while you handle the dirty work elsewhere, knowing that these monsters will fight for us until death or until you decide replacing.
The gameplay in general, relies on a skill tree unlocked as our heroes gain experience and level up, with a typical RPG style distribution of skill points that can be only done when you return to your bastion, a flying fortress named Aeroc. Between special techniques, combos and magic, even though the combat system is rather basic in order to make it accessible to the greatest number, there’s rich customization options.
While the game does not show remarkable originality, the end product proves effective enough that makes most of these games completely disproportionate, especially against gigantic bosses. The challenges are rather difficult, since these huge monsters are damage-sponges, and adding this to the countless side missions given by your headquarter, there’s a colossal wealth of stuff to do, closer to that of an RPG than a beat’em all. It must be said that the original DLCs from the Japanese release are included in our version, adding a number of quests to be completed, with some tiresome bosses that will probably require you to do some level-up farming with a bunch of Metal Slimes before you can be confident to tackle them.
Fortunately, many functions are housed within the flying citadel, which will quickly turn you into super-powered heroes, notably via the alchemy recipes and upgradeable equipment. It is thus possible to spend much time simply carrying over several small quests leading to a final boss, farm experience or the materials necessary for a particular type of accessory, or find all the monsters that have bounty on. In this way, the title manages to relay to its iconic RPG episodes of the series, and it is already a real achievement in itself. Even the collection of mini-medals has not been forgotten and fans of the franchise will not hide their pleasure to see the bestiary come to life before their eyes in real time.
Dragon Quest Heroes was reviewed using an PlayStation 4 redeemable code of the game provided by Square Enix. The original game was released in Japan earlier this year, and was also available on PlayStation 3 in both retail and online store releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Technically very well maintained and often impressive
• Music and sound effects of the iconic series
• Character and monster design
• Japanese Optional voices
• The RPG elements are still presents
• All DLC included in the Western version
• Colossal Lifespan of a game
• No multiplayer elements
• Travelling around the area is just too slow
• The small number of individual techniques and ultimate attacks