In recent years, we saw Square Enix "˜experimenting' with some of its most beloved franchises, with company doing this in an attempt to not only bring in new players to a franchise, but also deliver older fans an experience full of nostalgia and fan service. Final Fantasy fans got Dissidia: Final Fantasy a few years ago, and now, Square Enix and Omega Force have partnered up to deliver Dragon Quest fans an experience that feels like a mix of Dragon Quest and Dynasty Warriors, Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below.
Dragon Quest Heroes takes place in the Kingdom of Arba, a place where humans and monsters live in harmony. However, one day the monsters start to attack mankind and it's up to the captains of the Royal Guard, Luceus and Aurora, to find out the reason behind the monsters' attacks and restore order. Alongside King Doric, the duo travels to other cities across the land, learning that all the monsters in the world have turned against humans.
It's at this point that the "˜fan service' comes in. As players progress through the story, they will be joined by characters from previous Dragon Quest titles, such as Alena from Dragon Quest IV, Terry from Dragon Quest VI, Yangus from Dragon Quest VIII, among several others. Fans will be delighted to see some of these characters, but will surely be disappointed by the story itself, as it's often predictable and even becomes a bit repetitive after a while. This repetitiveness is something that even on dialogues is noticeable at times, especially with Luceus and his constant speeches about strategy and tactical approach.
The gameplay is clearly the game's strongest point, offering a combat system that feels very similar to Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors or Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts. Square button is used for normal attacks and triangle button for heavy attacks, which can be strung together in combos. By stringing combos or holding the circle button, a tension meter will start to fill, and once it's full, the character reaches a High Tension status, giving the character invincibility status and zero MP cost for a short amount of time, before using a devastating attack that will do massive damage to the enemies. Speaking of MP, in addition to these attacks, each character also has its own special abilities, which consume MP, and can be accessed by holding the R1 button.
Offering 12 different playable characters, the player will have to form a team of 4 characters to take on missions, with the player being able to switch and control any of these characters mid mission. Each character has its own moves and abilities, giving a lot of variety in combat style for the players to choose from. You don't even have to worry much about leveling up the characters you don't use, as these will also receive a certain amount of experience after each mission.
The game also offers a lot of depth in terms of strategy. Probably the most important point in terms of strategy in most missions are the enemies called mawkeepers, which open portals and call in more monsters. To avoid being overwhelmed by the monsters, it's advised to take out these mawkeepers as quickly as possible, however, things are not always that simple. A good portion of the missions will require the player to defend a set location from the enemies and prevent it from being destroyed. It's in these moments that's crucial to think and make the right decision on when to make your move.
The importance of a good strategy goes even further when you add Monster Coins to the mix. When defeating enemies, they will sometimes drop Monster Coins, which the player can then use to summon these same monsters to fight at its side. These monsters will be very helpful, not only by defeating other monsters, but also acting as your last line of defense to guard something you need to defend while you are away trying to defeat mawkeepers and closing portals.
While RPG fans might be impressed by the combat system, the same can't be said for exploration and sidequests. Although the game bears the Dragon Quest name, it's very far from being considered an open-world game that most would expect. Each mission takes place in a small area, but instead of moving through large open fields to progress to the next mission, you will be taken to a hub, where you can purchase new equipment, accep sidequests, and more. When you want to continue, just open the world map, click on your next mission and you will be teleported to a new area. Even sidequests don't offer enough variety, as a large majority of these either require to defeat a certain amount of enemies or collect a certain items dropped by monsters. Fortunately, the combat system makes up for all that.
Alongside the combat system, the game's presentation is also one of its strongest points. The graphics are colorful and very detailed, with Akira Toriyama's designs on the character models looking absolutely amazing on PS4. This added to a very consistent 60 frames-per-second during gameplay just makes this an even better work of art for the eyes. The soundtrack doesn't disappoint either, as it's not only great, but it's also a treat of nostalgia for fans, with the entire sountrack being composed of Koichi Sugiyama's tracks from previous Dragon Quest titles.
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below is certainly an experience that Dragon Quest fans in general will surely love playing. Although the story is somewhat forgettable, the nostalgia of seeing several characters from previous Dragon Quest titles makes it a bit more enjoyable. The hack-and-slash gameplay works really well and offers enough variety to keep things as fresh as possible throughout the 30-hour campaign. Although the lack of open exploration is a bit disappointing, the combat system and the nostalgia make up for it. If you are a fan of Dragon Quest or you enjoy Dynasty Warriors' gameplay, this is certainly a game you shouldn't miss.
|Combat offers enough variety and challenge to keep players entertaining for dozens of hours|
|The graphics and detail are impressive, with Toriyamaâ€™s designs looking better than ever|
|Lots of nostalgic moments for Dragon Quest fans.|
|Lack of open world/exploration.|
|A forgettable story thatâ€™s below Dragon Quest standards.|
|Luceus gets annoying and repetitive really fast.|