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Review: Dragon Quest: Heroes

The Dynasty Warriors games are known for their action-packed levels filled with enemies. It’s been a long time since a true Dynasty Warriors game released but we’ve seen a lot of great spin-off lately. Hyrule Warriors and One Piece: Pirate Warriors are just two examples of those. Dragon Quest: Heroes is the newest in line but is far more than just a spin-off. Dragon Quest goes its own way with the Warriors gameplay and creates something entirely new and different. It’s one of the best Dragon Quest games in years to be honest.

An excuse to fight

The game starts with a gorgeous cut scene in a town called Arba. Arba is one of those cities where nothing special happens. The humans made peace with the monsters and both manage to live together without fighting. It starts with a big festival where everybody is as happy as they can possibly be. Of course, that would be rather boring for a game; so things go South when a mysterious magician uses his black magic to affect all monsters. No surprise there, the monsters start attacking the humans without hesitation. It’s up to hero Luceus and heroine Aurora to join forces with some fan favorite Dragon Quest characters and end the dark magic once and for all.

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It’s not a very interesting or creative story but it’s the perfect excuse for a fight. Since the curse affected each type of monster, it’s also the perfect excuse to bring together popular monsters like Slimes, Gigantes and Golems. Fans of the Dragon Quest franchise are in for a lot of fan service!

Some Dynasty Warriors elements

At first sight you might think that Dragon Quest Heroes is another spin-off just like Hyrule Warriors but that’s not entirely true. First of all, the game doesn’t visit key location of older Dragon Quest games. Like said before, you play as a new team in the world of Arda. Sure, you come across with some popular Dragon Quest enemies but the environments are all new. The only part of the Dynasty Warriors games that remained are the big waves of enemies you’ll fight. Aside of that, Dragon Quest Heroes really goes its own way and creates an interesting hybrid between Dynasty Warriors and a combat orientated action game.

 

An unexpected journey

 

So what about those waves of enemies, is it done in a way to keep you motivated? Well, it sure is. Square Enix made sure gamers would face enough different challenges. It all starts rather easy, but the more you advance, the more strategy you’ll need. Not long after your first steps in the game, you’ll need to defeat different waves of enemies at once, take down gatekeepers to stop endless spawning and take down huge bosses. The combat stays fresh and remains interesting thanks to this variation and the progress of your characters.

Train your characters

Since this still is a Dragon Quest game rather than a Dynasty Warriors game, the progress of your characters is very important to survive. The characters level up during combat and you can increase their skills while they level up. Another important feature is the way you upgrade gear and weapons. After each mission, you’ll be guided back to a safe place where you can buy or sell gear and weapons. It’s important to upgrade to more powerful weapons if you want to survive. The difficult enemies become easy to defeat with the right tools.

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Play with different characters

Besides training, it’s also good to know you’re not limited to the new characters as playable characters. Like other Warriors game, Dragon Quest Heroes features a wide variety of popular Dragon Quest characters. The way you switch between them is pure genius. While on the field, you just need to push one button to switch to another character. This means you can switch between your strong but slow character and your long-range fast character with just a push of the button. Since the computer controls the other characters during battles, they’re always in interesting places. Enemies are attacking your core? Don’t worry, switch to the character that’s closest to it in order to stop them in time. It’s a very interesting and yet simple mechanism but it means a lot for the gameplay. Most Warriors game forces you to control just one character and switch to another that’s not even on the field. Dragon Quest Heroes introduces this new way of switching and it really works like a charm.

Got to catch them all

So where are the support characters? A question that might rise since you can control all main characters on the field. Support characters come as Monster Medals, or Pokémon as I like to call them. Monster Medals are earned by defeating different types of enemies on the field. When you defeat an enemy there’s a possibility they drop a special Medal. This Medal is the Pokéball of Dragon Quest and houses the little monster that will fight on your side once you ‘captured’ it. Sounds familiar right?

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This system is extremely addictive since you want to catch them all but it also adds a lot to the gameplay. If, for example, your base is under attack from two different sides on the map, you can call in a Monster Medal to block the enemies on one path. While they are defending that path, you can take down to monster on the other path and keep your base safe. Monster Medals are fun and addictive but they also add a lot of new strategies to the battlefield. The most fun are the big monster like Golems for example, you can only imagine how great it is to get those guys on your side.

A gorgeous world 

The last thing we would really like to point out is the way the game looks and sounds. First of all, this is by far the best-looking Dragon Quest game to date. It really looks gorgeous, environments look alive and both characters and monster look like they are made for an animation movie rather than a game. Akira Toriyama has a typical ‘Dragon Ball’ way of drawing but it works once again. Monster and characters look cartoony and yet realistic. Watch out for some nudity in the cut scenes though.

Speaking of cut scenes, those look incredible! Each cut scene is fully voiced in English or Japanese and really looks like a movie. The creators invested a lot of budget in shiny effects but it really paid off. There’re a lot of cut scenes in the game but I’m sure you won’t mind watching another one before you can jump into the next level. The presentation is of an unknown level, certainly for Dynasty Warriors-inspired games. This might be the new standard for Warriors spin-offs.

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Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is an incredible game. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just another Dynasty Warriors spin-off, this is a genre on its own. It combines the best of the Warriors franchise with the best of the Dragon Quest franchise and comes up with a great, action-packed, product. Fans of Dragon Quest will be pleased with all the familiar monsters and characters while newcomers have the perfect excuse to start getting to know the world of Dragon Quest. We were surprised by the high quality of the game and can only recommend this game to all player who seek some action on their console.

9/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.