reviews\ Oct 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below Review

A dash of Warriors, a sprinkle of Dragon Quest

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Dragon Quest Heroes

The Positives

  • The look of the game is decidedly Dragon Quest. Akira Toriyama's character, enemy and world designs shine through brilliantly. In fact, if someone didn't know this was a Warriors spin-off, it might have been mistaken for a core Dragon Quest title, especially when roaming around the hub town or airship.

  • Likewise, the soundtrack composed by Koichi Sugiyama, the original composer for Dragon Quest, is absolutely stellar. Combined with original Dragon Quest sound effects, you could blindfold yourself, and easily recognize the franchise (at least, assuming you're already familiar with it).

  • The combat feels satisfying. Even though the two original characters are essentially clones of one another, one being ice, the other fire element, the rest of the cast has a wonderfully diverse pallet of attacks.

  • Magic was incorporated perfectly. Each character has access to four spells that can be leveled up, and cast if you have the appropriate MP. All you have to do is hold down either R1 or R2 (based on your settings) and press the appropriate face button. It's extremely satisfying to watch enemies get swept up in an icy tornado, or slammed down by a fiery sword attack.

  • Replacing Musou attacks is Tension, though mechanically it works about the same. Once the gauge fills up, with the press of the Circle button, your character powers up, allowing them to attack faster, and continually spam magic attacks without consuming MP. While the gauge is active, you can unleash a Tension finisher that for the most part acts as a screen clearing move. They look appropriately epic, and in Toriyama fashion, the characters almost look like they go Super Saiyan.

  • Since the characters have no sprint speed, nor mounts, it makes sense then that the maps aren't as huge as other Warriors titles. This makes traversing them less of a hassle, and you can easily cover enough ground in a short amount of time, even if you need to get to the other side of the map to defend a capture point.

  • You can take four characters with you in a party, and freely switch between them with the press of L2. This is fantastic as it allows for some strategic play based on each character's specialty.

  • While the roster of characters is going under the negatives section, the silver lining is that each of them feel quite different from one another, each one having a different battle focus. While Warriors games are generally associated with button-mashing, there is a whole lot of strategy involved based on each character's skillset.

  • Another layer of strategy comes in the form of Monster Medals. These random drops can then be used during battle, and provide either offensive help depending on where they're used, or as support items providing the party with various buffs. The Medals are invaluable in certain missions, as you'll often need to defend multiple places. Placing down an offensive Monster Medal will plant that monster there and defend that spot from oncoming enemies. It's sort of like a mini tower defense game.

Dragon Quest Heroes

  • In-between missions, you can walk around the hub, which at first is a little settlement, but then shifts to a castle-sized airship called Stonecloud

  • This is where a majority of the character interactions happen. It's cool to watch both the original four characters, as well as the cast of returning Dragon Quest veterans interact with one another. Doubly so for finally giving some characters voices who have never had them before, and also for returning voice actors for characters like Yangus.

  • It's a testament to both great character design and characterization that the four original characters can stand on their own, in a series that's usually dependent on crossing over popular characters.

  • Even locations get a nice sprinkle of lore when first uncovered by the Stonecloud. For example, upon Colissea, the two recruits then give a brief backstory, kicking off a banter with King Doric as he boasts about his victories in the coliseum. It's a small detail, but a nice one.

  • You can simply be a Dragon Quest fan, or simply be a Warriors fan to appreciate the game. Hell, I'd even wager this title is a good entry point for skeptics of Warriors games.

The Negatives

  • The character roster is much smaller compared to other Warriors games. In fact, there are only 13 playable characters, with four of them being original characters designed for the game. Such is usually the nature of new Warriors spin-offs, which the sequel, that was already announced for Japan, will most likely rectify.

  • The story might be a little too cliche, with a too-literal take on the Light vs. Dark. But hey, I guess that's DQ's more lighthearted tone.

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Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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