By Joe Sigadel / November 2nd, 2015
|Title||Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below|
|Release Date||October 13, 2015|
|Genre||Musou/Beat ‘Em Up/Tower Defense|
|Age Rating||ESRB: T|
It’s been five whole years since we’ve seen a mainline Dragon Quest entry here in the West. Since Dragon Quest IX, with each announcement of a new Dragon Quest game, fans were left waiting with bated breath to see if we’d get more of the series they loved so much. Whatever happened to Dragon Quest X, and do we even have a prayer of seeing Dragon Quest XI localized? It’s true that Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t the mainline series entry that long time fans were hoping for, and basing the future on this spinoff seems like an odd choice to me. Nevertheless, Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t a bad tribute to the series if you enjoy Musou or tower defense games.
Dragon Quest Heroes takes place in a world where formerly friendly monsters, coexisting with humans, start attacking people due to some unknown malevolent force. The kingdom of Arba, where the action begins, is overwhelmed by rampaging beasts of all shapes, sizes and kinds, and it’s up to you and your party to quell the chaos. Along the way you’ll meet characters from past Dragon Quest games like Jessica and Yangus from VIII, as well as Alena and Kiryl from IV. You’ll be enlisting them to assist you with — what else? — saving the world from total destruction.
Combat in Dragon Quest Heroes is very similar to a Warriors/Musou game. You’ll spend most of your time hacking, slashing and hammering away at hundreds of monsters. As you’re fighting, you can collect items used for synthesis or turning in to fulfill a quest, as well as monster medals. The medals are actually a key part of the game: you can summon a defeated monster and bring it over to your side to turn the tables. Each monster has a different specialty — some, like Golems, are sentries, they are best suited for patrolling around a point that you need guarded to complete the stage. Others can heal you or provide buffs, or even shower money on you. Some of the story battles in this game get pretty intense; I had a few close calls and failures as well. But you shouldn’t fret too much if you lose, because you can keep any experience and gold you’ve gained. You will lose items, but that really isn’t so bad if you’re more powerful the next time you try the stage.
Once you beat a story area, you can visit the stage on the world map at any time after acquiring your airship. The real purpose of this is to allow you to farm for items that aren’t easily obtained otherwise, or kill a certain amount of creatures to get quests done. There are different difficulties you can select which determine the type of beasts you will face, so you’ll want to pay attention to the description and look to see if the monster you need will be there or not. In this aspect, Dragon Quest Heroes does a good job of replicating the series’ feel without actually being an RPG — including the less fun parts, like grinding. Given the choice between fighting an endless battle and replaying the story mission on a harder difficulty, I think I would have chosen the latter.
Speaking of the airship, this acts as your main hub throughout most of the game. It’s here that you buy and sell items and equipment, take quests, change party members and charge Healstones to use in battle. There’s also a king who will trade your mini medals for rare items, recipes and weapons, as well as an alchemist who’ll combine your ingredients to make you helpful accessories. You can even fuse two of the same accessory together to make it even stronger. Finally, there’s an NPC who you’ll want to check in with when you earn trophies to get yourself more mini medals for your accomplishments.
Dragon Quest Heroes is a wonderful looking game. It’s bright, colorful and the environments are highly detailed. I know that we didn’t receive the PS3 version, but there is no way that the previous gen console could have rendered as many monsters as the PS4 does on screen and look this good at the same time. Many of the classic and recurring Dragon Quest monsters make an appearance here, and the playable characters look pretty darn good too. Of course, this wouldn’t be complete without some epic CG story cutscenes to go with it. It is a Square Enix game, after all. Dual audio is available here for the voices, so you can choose the original Japanese or English. I prefer English for this one, and yes, it does sound a bit cheesy, but it has the kind of charm of watching a Saturday morning cartoon. I couldn’t stop smiling whenever I heard King Doric speak after a hearty laugh, and he definitely stole the scenes for me. Last but not least, Dragon Quest Heroes’ arrangement of all the classic Dragon Quest music strikes all the right notes and stays true to the spirit of the series.
So is Dragon Quest Heroes for you? I think that’ll depend on a few factors. Do you own a PS4? Are you a long time fan of Dragon Quest? And do you enjoy Musou games? If the answer to all three of these is “Yes”, then I say go for it. The story content for me clocked in at around 24 hours to beat while doing some side content, so it’s not very long, but completionists will find a lot to do here. It’s the kind of game you can come back to now and again if you just want to come back to the action for a little while, and there’s a New Game+ if you want to do it all over again. All in all, Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t a bad Musou flavored tribute to the series. Here’s hoping we get more where this came from.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Dragon QuestDragon Quest Heroesdragon quest heroes: the woKoei TecmoOmega ForcePS4ReviewSquare Enix