REVIEW – Every time when I surf on the Net, and I run into Dragon Quest, I always have a smile on my face. I remember how much time I spent with the series when I was a child, and how many grand adventures I had with the heroes on the Nintendo Super Nes. It was back in 1995…
Yep, I got to know the franchise back in 1995 (as a 3 year old), when I started the game on my brother’s console. I still remember the first experiences, and I was not hesitant to play all the previous games that were before the fifth game. I knew the entire Dragon Quest universe by 2001, and I was happy as soon as a new game was released. In light of this I must say that if we talk about RPG series, then I need to highlight the Dragon Quest series.
Those who are unfamiliar with the series, here’s a bit of a history about Dragon Quest, as the first game is literally a living history. When Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior) was released in 1986, the NES games were in every living room, and Square Enix was simply Enix, and RPG games were barely appearing over the horizon.
Ever since then thirty one games have been released that’s counting the main games, spin-off, but not counting the Anime, and Manga adaptations of Dragon Quest. When viewing the entire universe, I sometimes feel that it is has a universe up to par with Star Wars, where even searching for a new information fills me with glee.
Not many people know however that Dragon Quest was created by Akira Toriyama, who created Dragon Ball, and Dragon Ball Z. While he did return to helm the new Dragon Ball series, he also had some hand in the newest spin-off, although his work was not too active in Dragon Quest Warriors. Still he was there at the very beginning.
Do not let the title mislead you!
As the title implies a bit of an interactive movie, in Dragon Quest Heroes the story is not the main focus. While testing the game I could not really embrace the story, because it was pretty weak. Instead the gameplay grabbed me more in this game. This time the developers were not afraid to borrow great elements from Koei Techmo’s Dynasty Warrior games, which is one of the most strongest Hack N’ Slash series of all times.
Besides the basic concepts of Warriors, the game also adds a lot of RPG elements, creatures which can be summoned, loots, and a few elements from adventure games, while slashing enemies to infinity.
This sounded great at first when the game was revealed, and I could not wait to get my hands on the game. When I finally got The World Tree’s Woe, and the Blight Below (no, I’ll never write this down again!), I was first pleasantly surprised by the game, but then the negative aspects were more and more clear to me as I delved deeper in the game. So let’s get down to it.
While putting the story away, I was in a rush to dissect the gameplay, and its elements. Searching for the enemies on the map was an easy task since I could quickly explore them. Yes, I know this sounds a bit retarded in a Hack N Slash game, but it still did happen. The biggest negative aspect of Dragon Quest Heroes is the number of the enemies, as they are barely enough of them to extend the gameplay. It seems action packed gameplay means running around for minutes on the levels, and searching for monsters, plus the environment was also not used to its fullest.
Here comes the question: what Dragon Quest’s new spin-off contains if it provides so little opportunities to fight. Of course, this statement is relative as I had less enemies to fight here than in a Dynasty Warriors game. Unfortunately, this is what the game is: fighting a few enemies, rinse and repeat, and then go up against a Boss fight, after that a new level, and repeat what I just mentioned earlier. Naturally between the repeats we have the option to loot lots of weapons, items, from enemies, and we also gain XP which allows us to level up.
This is still kind of fun, and a bit of a positive trait of the game in the sea of monotony. Sometimes I felt that the levels are the same just with a bit different coat of paint. The enemies and bosses were varied, but that is of little consolation if this game was supposed to be a good hack’n’slash title.
I would like to note that this game is based on Dynasty Warriors, which was truly great because you could not take two steps without slaughtering units, while here in Dragon Quest Heroes I felt kind of alone.
Wanting for more?
Unfortunately the issues with the enemy are not just its numbers, but their strength. When I started the game, I charged against the enemy and I noticed that most of the enemies were easy to defeat, and one or two slices were able to decimate the enemies. That is why the distances between the enemies are so annoying, because by the time you arrive to four or five enemies the encounter is done.
Therefore the biggest issue is the game’s difficulty, and challenge factors, as it can be described in one word: laughable. I did not feel once that my character was in danger, as he was like Chuck Norris, who could kill anyone with a sneeze, get women pregnant, and kill off Facebook in fifteen countries. Basically indestructible.
Of course the boss fights are exciting, and have depth at first, but later on these are not that difficult. We evade one or two attacks, and after that we just had to wait for the enemies catch their breath. This is also one of the weak spots of the game.
While the bosses are still more enjoyable than the smaller enemies, it is still not that satisfying, even though they do uplift some of the levels in quality. After the first boss I could not wait to get to the next boss which I defeated the same way as the first one.
The Hack’n Slash failed, let’s see the RPG
As every obstacle that the Hack N Slash genre put in front of Dragon Quest Heroes has failed, it is still able to be a solid game thanks to its RPG elements. The level-up system is kind of fun, as it is to watch our heroes becoming powerful. The amount of loot we get will allow us to diversify our heroes, and we will be laughing manically as we use our ever more powerful heroes.
The skill tree is clear-cut, just as a true RPG fan would want it to be. Maybe the game would have been better if it was fully an RPG game, as the system in its current form is this: it has some uses, but it does not really effect the game. If it had more of a role in the game it would have made Dragon Quest Heroes more enjoyable but in its current form the skill tree is basically: “Oh it is there!”
RPG in Hack N Slash, RTS in RPG, Tower Defense in RPG….Wait what ?
Still not bored with the game? Well, let’s go deeper, as the game has a few more layers of depth. Dragon Quest Heroes has elements of a real time strategy game, but that pretty much tanks with: gather souls as resources and summon units to attack the enemy. It adds something new to the game, but it is only worth it if we have to defend a person or a generator, and this is where the Tower Defense genre kicks in. These defense missions are pretty fun, as they at least provide some fun unlike the Hack and Slash part of the game.
It reminded me of the 2010 IOS game that was later released for the PC and PS3/ Xbox consoles called Dungeon Defenders, where these elements were mixed together. While in this title there were more enemies, the main part was the Tower Defense, while here the Hack and Slash which did not turn out to be that great.
Variety my friends, variety!
Luckily the developers felt that the product was not that good, and will not adhere to the usual quality that Dyansty Warriors have, even if new game styles were mixed into it. That is why they added characters as a saving grace. All of the playable characters in the game have different abilities, playstyles that can be an advantage in certain situations. Of course in terms of strategy they’re different so we will have to try all of them out, to know which character is the closest to our play style.
We can use swords, canes, fists, and with magic, but we may even use the deadly boomerang. The fighting styles are well balanced in the game, and we can start with any of our characters in Dragon Quest Heroes. If we get to know them then we can even call them – quietly – Norris. Let’s just hope he does not hear it…
Nothing to be ashamed of
If you been following the series for a long time then you should try Dragon Quest Heroes. The World Tree’s Woe, and the Blight Below. While you should not expect magnificent things from the game, the mixed genre elements, the leveling system, and the animation is worth a shot. Of course it is also worth noting that you will not get a Dynasty Warriors, and the product is even weaker than Dungeon Defenders at some parts.
+ Great Controls
+ Pretty graphics
+ Good RTS system, and fun RPG elements
– Not too many enemies
– Where is the story?
– Not too difficult
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix, Omega Force
Release date: October 13th 2015.