Dragon Quest is an extremely popular RPG franchise that actually pre-dates the insanely popular Final Fantasy series and we did a Dragon Quest Heroes play-through review. Published in the US as Dragon Warrior, Dragon Quest and its sequels have been lauded by fans as being some of Square Enix’s best work – if not as good as or better than certain Final Fantasy titles. Personally, I’ve only ever played the original Dragon Warrior, so when it was announced that they would be releasing Dragon Quest Heroes, I wasn’t sure how to feel until I saw that it was being done by Omega Force. Omega Force is known for their work with the seemingly endless Dynasty Warriors franchise. These are typically love or hate games, so as a fan with an eye on trying to get into Dragon Quest, and someone who really enjoys Musou (Warriors) games, I knew I’d have to get my hands on this game.
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This might possibly be the best melding of two different game styles ever made.
If you’re a fan of the Warriors games, you know this isn’t the first time Omega Force has attempted to appeal to a larger audience. Last year’s Hyrule Warriors introduced Musou to the Kingdom of Hyrule, and while the adventures of Link and his crew were a lot of fun, Dragon Quest Heroes blows it out of the water. Traditionally in a Dynasty Warriors game, you’ll play as one hero and your goal is to strategically eliminate the mass enemy threat while capturing proper checkpoints and saving your allies in order to work toward a common goal. Dragon Quest Heroes almost abandons that idea and instead often puts you in smaller scenarios where you’ll have less ground to cover but it feels far less frustrating than riding a horse for five minutes to get to the other side of the battlefield only to lose your keep because your ally was overrun and you didn’t choose a faster path.
Combat might actually even be oversimplified for long time fans of the Warriors franchise. Dragon Quest Heroes has crystals you can activate in each area, and this will allow you to use a skill to quickly transport yourself across the map without the need for a mount. See what I mean about easing frustration? This actually feels really nice and I think it would be a welcome option for future Dynasty Warriors games.
Speaking more on combat, Dragon Quest Heroes allows you to take a traditional party into the battle and you can quickly switch between characters on the fly with a tap of L2. This works well if someone falls in battle as you can quickly swap to another person and revive them instead of hoping the AI will do it for you. This also works well as you can swap to someone who’s outside combat for an easier route to stationary weapons, as you’ll often find some turrets that help to dispatch some of the more difficult boss characters. One fight in particular is pretty rough as you’ve got a big green baddie who smashes you, and he’s got a wyvern that heals him by his side. The problem with that isn’t just the healing, but the wyvern is shielded and only vulnerable to attack every few seconds, so you have to pick your shots well.
The other cool thing about combat is the ability to pick up and use Monster Coins. The coins drop from slain enemies and you can then summon the fallen monster to fight for you. They are defined by two types – one type will summon a monster that you can position in an area (this is great for maps with bottlenecks as you can grab a stronger enemy like a Golem to guard it while you work on other areas) and the other will summon a monster briefly for a specific purpose. Some of the monsters are summoned and unleash a powerful attack, while others cast a buff on your party or debuff the enemies. It’s a very welcome addition to a proven formula, and while Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t a very difficult game, it’s exactly the type of game that will welcome newcomers to the genre.
The story is pretty cliché and fairly predictable, but it’s interesting and the voice acting is great – though it can be a bit grating. Everyone speaks with an English accent, but there’s a lot of attention to detail so the dialect both in the actual voice acting and the written text (Yangus is pretty hilarious as he often shouts “U WOT” which is fairly popular meme on the internet).
Luceus and Aurora are the main characters as captains of the King’s Guard, but the King joins them shortly as they seek out to protect the other areas of the realm. The realm was typically peaceful as monsters and Humans worked together, but an evil sorcerer casts a spell which makes all of the monsters (except a slime named Healix) turn on the Humans and attack.
Along the way the World’s Tree roots become exposed and the King explains to them how the Tree gives life to their realm. Like I said, it’s cliché but it’s well done – especially for a Warriors game, considering people typically skip the scenes and go straight to the fighting. You’ll continue protecting the cities and Healix will continue being the cutest thing of all time – as she’s a slime who will constantly make slime references. Her typical sentence might read something like “I thought I was gooing to be splattered into a puddle!” It’s sickeningly adorable, as is pretty much everything else about this game and it melted my evil icy heart. The monsters aren’t scary, but instead they’re all cute which means Dragon Quest Heroes will grab anyone’s attention as you can play it no matter who’s in the room.
If you’re a fan of RPG’s, Dragon Quest Heroes offers a somewhat traditional RPG experience with a different twist on combat. You’ll still buy weapons and gear for your allies, pick up ingredients to craft items using Alchemy, and spend skill points on new abilities or core stats – you’ll just be ditching turn based combat for real time horde slaying. It’s very much the greatest mashup game you never knew you wanted.
Overall score: 9 out of 10