Is that you, Dragon Quest? You seem kind of different…
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is the latest Warriors cross-over title, and first one to feature the iconic universe of Dragon Quest. This is the first time Dragon Quest has appeared on a Sony platform since the fantasy Dragon Quest 8 on the Playstation 2 back in 2005. Will it be the return of an old friend, or will it be a monster that you destroy for some extra experience? Let’s find out!
Slimes have never looked or sounded so good!
For as long as the Dragon Quest series has existed, its art style has been that of the famed Japanese artist of Akira Toriyama (Dragonball Z), and Heroes is no different. Heroes, while not the first 3D foray of the Dragon Quest series, is the first Playstation 4 title, and it is a beautiful representation of the art style. Being a Musuo (aka Warriors) game, you can see Toriyama’s monster designs perfectly recreated and represented in swarming masses with the sole intent to destroy you and your party. From the iconic mascot of the series, the Slimes, to the Golems, green dragons, and Behemoose, each conveys their own personality in their animations.
But every Warriors game needs heroes to slay the evil creatures. Heroes and heroines from Dragon Quest’s past come together with the game’s main protagonists, Luceus, Aurora, King Doric, Isla, and Healix (a heal Slime chock-full of Slime puns), to save the Kingdom of Arba and vanquish the hordes of monsters. Luceus is the calm, collected, and tactical Knight Commander of the large, boisterous King Doric, while Aurora is his straight-to-the-point, run in swords swinging compatriot. Each character has the same artistic attention to retain Toriyama’s style; they feel as though they belong within the universe that is Dragon Quest.
The audio in this game is just as on point as the visuals, too! The game is voiced well, both during the cut-scenes and the chats occurring during battle. Angus’ voice actor from Dragon Quest 8, Ricky Grover, also returned to reprise his role in this title. All of the music and sound effects are pulled from the Dragon Quest staples, with some truly rocking remixes.
This isn’t your typical slime slaying sort of grinding!
The game play is your typical Warriors style fair. In each level, the player is tasked with cutting their way through hordes of monsters in order to secure points, protect a target, or defeat a specific enemy character. Dragon Quest Heroes mixes in a good dose of RPG elements in, with individual skill trees for each of the 13 heroes, ability points you can allocate into stats, and equipment slots (weapons, shields, armor, and accessories). Even the Alchemy Pot makes its return, allowing you to create new and more powerful equipment from the loot obtained from monsters! Side-quests are prevalent as well, where you can take requests from other townsfolk with the party in your flying sanctuary. Monster Medals and Mini Medals also make their appearance in Heroes, with Monster Medals giving you the ability to temporarily summon monsters to fight by your side, and Mini Medals are tradeable for items.
Warriors with a shot of RPG goodness in the arm.
There is plenty of content straight out of the box with Dragon Quest Heroes. The main portion of the game is the 20-30 hour story campaign that revolves around freeing the monsters you once lived side-by-side with from the control of an evil force. That simply scratches the surface, though. With tons of side-quests, multiple difficulty levels, characters to level up, and the New Game+ option, there is a lot of game here to play. Some of it, however, is deceptive. While it is true that each character has their own progression and skill tree, they are very similar from character to character, with only minor tweaks. This being the case, I would have liked to see a larger cast of Dragon Quest alumni to grow the rather small roster of playable characters from the 12 that are in the game. I also found it rather odd that unlike so many of the Warriors series, this game doesn’t support any sort of multiplayer or co-op play, which is disappointing, especially when you consider that the game already provides you with 3 playable characters to take with you into battle. Why they didn’t include at the least couch co-op really is a bummer. Hopefully, in the sequel this will be added, and players will be able to slay monsters with their buddies.
To Grind or Not to Grind…that is the question!
I have played most of the Warriors titles, starting with Dynasty Warriors 2 on the Playstation 2, and the situation is always the same. The amount you will enjoy Dragon Question Heroes will be based on what you expect going into it. Don’t expect an in-depth, long Dragon Quest RPG story. While it has a story – a much better story than any other Warriors game I have played, mind you – it still is not a traditional RPG story. It was a pretty straight forward tale of good vs evil, despite some incredibly strange plot choices that they decided to take with it (the opening showed monsters and humans living happily, and then when monsters turn, we have to kill them in droves? That’s pretty brutal…).
If you go in expecting a Warriors experience, then you know exactly what you are getting, with some added bonuses and depth that other games in the franchise haven’t seen. If you enjoy both Dragon Quest AND Warrior titles, then you will really have a good time with Heroes. I had more fun with Dragon Quest Heroes than I have with a Warriors game in quite some time. While the smaller roster and lack of multiplayer did diminish my enjoyment of it somewhat, it was still a fun game, with fantastic visuals, sound design, and music to it. With a sequel already announced to be released in Japan in Spring of 2016, I look forward to the improvements that will come with it, and hopefully a localization.
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below for Playstation 4 gets a 8/10 from Dashing Nerds!
- Perfectly recreates Akira Toriyama’s art style
- Multiple side quests and dungeons to take on
- Good voice cast, including an old favorite!
- Little to no slowdown with all the monsters on screen
- No mulitplayer of any kind
- Small cast of playable characters without diversity in level progression
- Limited character customization