Much like Hyrule Warriors before it, I was not expecting to enjoy Dragon Quest Heroes quite as much as I did. To be completely honest, I have always found the Dynasty Warriors combat formula to be a bit dull. From a pure design perspective, being a god and slicing through hundreds of foes like butter tends to become boring very quickly. Thankfully, Omega Force had the good sense not to copy-paste the musou formula, but rather to take the central conceit and try to fuse it with another genre entirely. The result is a game that, while it has a fair share of problems, is a fun ride and a good dose of fan service for Dragon Quest aficionados.
Game Name: Dragon Quest Heroes – The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below
Platform(s): PS4, PS3, PC/Steam
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Omega Force
Release Date: 10/13/2015
Price: $59.99 (US)
Let it be made clear up front, however, that a true Dragon Quest game this is not. Heroes certainly tries to incorporate as many of its namesake’s RPG trappings as possible, and they work to varying degrees. However, make no mistake, the core of the game comes down to two attack buttons that, when pressed in certain sequences, trigger ridiculously devastating attacks.
Dragon Quest Heroes features a campaign that is quite a bit longer than one might expect. Like many RPGs, it weaves a tale in which the world is on the brink and only you can bring it back. Quite frankly, that summary sounds more interesting than the actual plot, in which monsters, who were once best of friends with men, have unexpectedly turned on them. Thankfully, the game spends more time focused on the characters, who bring enough humor and life to mostly drown out the melodrama. There is a lot of levity here for a game in which you must slaughter your former friends.
The cast includes some characters that are original to this game as well as a handful of characters that come from some classic Dragon Quest titles (because of reasons). They are all rendered beautifully, and none of Toriyama’s style is lost. I was excited to see Yangus, a personal favorite from VIII, make his way onto the roster. While there are admittedly a few doubles (in terms of their combat capabilities), thankfully there is a diverse range of play styles to choose from. From swordsmen to brawlers to magic-wielders, for the most part they are all very fun to use.
While the same button inputs are largely used to execute the mass carnage, each character has their own tempo and, more importantly, a suite of magic attacks and abilities. By holding R1, the player can summon a quick menu from which a powerful spell can be cast, and quickly fall back into their melee combination. It flows nicely, and the abilities can make a difference in different situations. For example, during my playtime, Auroras’ ice attack became invaluable mid-combo as a means to freeze larger opponents like Golems.
Speaking of opponents, Dragon Quest Heroes has a large roster to pull from and takes full advantage. One of the effects this has is that encounters do feel more varied than if I were beating on the same minions over and over. The larger captains all use different approaches and abilities, causing me to have to shift my strategy. At the same time, I had to juggle defending objectives and taking out enemy spawn points. On top of it all, you’ll also gain the ability to capture and deploy monsters, adding another strategic element. Omega Force did a good job making battle about more than just how many hundreds of pawns you can mow down, or at least seem like it.
In between battle you’ll have access to all manner of NPCs. Too many I would argue. I would rather the equipment and accessories you purchased from them have some sort of variety. Instead, buying weapons and armor feels like a chore, there only ever being one option. Surprisingly, I had to visit an NPC to choose my party members before battle. In 2015, I would have thought that the composition of party members could have been something sorted out in the pause menu. Same goes for side quests, as well as a multitude of other game functions, that I have to trek back to an NPC to resolve or monitor. At the end of the day, I could have done entirely without the hub world.
The game’s issues are not limited to the interludes between battle. The camera could have done with a bit of tightening, and the lock-on functionality feels completely broken at times. Often, I would execute power attacks only to have them miss the enemy because my character happened to be facing them on a slight angle. Flying enemies will completely throw players for a loop, as I found myself jumping up blindly and swinging at air, hoping that I might hit something eventually.
Later sections of the game also have a habit of throwing large amounts of captains at you, who keep your characters indefinitely immobilized or worse by repeatedly spamming large area of effect abilities in enclosed spaces. While most of the game did a good job balancing easier mob slaying with more difficult encounters, it almost fell apart at the end.
This all being said, there is a good amount of content to be found here and I cannot say that I did not enjoy myself while playing Dragon Quest Heroes. It is a good game, and I can easily recommend it as a fun action title. Had Omega Force done more to flesh out the RPG face of the game, however, and had the edges been polished a bit more, I believe it could have been a great game.
- Battle is a bit more complex than just eliminating enemies
- Characters and monsters are rendered beautifully
- Roster is varied and fun to use
- A lot of humor
- Plot borders on the edge of nonsensical
- Basic game functions are buried in NPC dialogue boxes
- RPG elements can feel tacked on and hollow
- Camera could have used some polish