Review: Dragon Quest Heroes 2 celebrates 30 Years of Dragon Quest Successfully
Celebrate 30 years of Slimes by hack-n-slashing your way through them
Platform: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Playstation Vita
Developer: Omega Force
Ah, Dragon Quest. You’ve been with us for 30 years. Your little Slimes have been a staple for low-level mobs in many games. Dragon Quest Heroes 2 pays homage to the legacy that is the series, but it also offers something different at the same time.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2, much like its predecessor, takes the well-known series and puts a spin on it with a different playstyle. This playstyle is much like Dynasty Warriors and other warrior games. The game consists of large battlefields called War Zones with weaker enemies commanded by generals. These battles can be played in a simple mode that figures out the best combo for you, or a manual mode that allows for planned combos. To get a real feel for the game, it should be played on manual.
There are also areas called Wild Zones, which consist of fields and forests with creatures dotting the land. These are more for traveling between towns and collecting loot. This breaks up the War Zones, but it also feels less exciting than the adrenaline-fueled War Zones.
Despite some hiccups, the game is a nice callback to the series.
Considering Square Enix didn’t decide to publish this in place of another main series Dragon Quest (which is currently in development), the change of form was a welcome one. It still feels very Dragon Quest. Familiar enemies fill the land, sound effects are just like they were in the golden years, and the character design is still done by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball!
The player assumes the role of one of two cousins: Lazarel or Teresa. Not to worry though, the one you don’t pick becomes a party member, so essentially nothing is missing. What’s interesting is, unlike most games where you pick a gender, the characters aren’t mirror images of each other. Both Teresa and Lazarel have distinct personalities that do not change based on who the player picks. Teresa will always be the more proper, polite one and Lazarel is always the spunky, cocky one.
After character selection, the player finds the two cousins reuniting in a peaceful kingdom that Lazarel is staying at. The two of them have trained as knights during a peaceful time where violence is strictly forbidden between humankind. As such, they’re trained in the ways of combat, but with no experience in conflict. Until, of course, the game finishes its introduction.
Other characters eventually join your team and have set jobs and weapon types. But Lazarel and Teresa have the ability to change their vocation at any time. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t mean changing willy-nilly is a good idea. Finding a vocation you like early on is the best course of action unless you don’t mind a bit of grinding.
However, there are a lot of different vocations to choose from and even more weapons. It may be worth the time just to try out the new weapon you picked up.Finding a weapon you’re good with is just as important as building a balanced party.
Each vocation levels up on its own meter. It’s not too tedious to catch up if you change vocation though, there’s experience boosts, dungeons, and optional bosses that can catch you up easily. Another interesting feature is the in-game bonuses available depending on the day of the real-life week. For example, one day may affect experience rates, while another increases gold drop rates. Leveling up a new vocation may just take time out of your Thursday, then you’ll be caught up.
As with many Dragon Quest games, defeating monsters occasionally give you a medal that can be used to summon them into battle. These monsters do a number of things depending on which monster it is. Some come out and do a one-shot move. Others may allow the player to transform into the monster for a short time and fight as them. Accessories can be crafted with monster parts and upgraded to be even more powerful and special side quests can be taken to unlock special perks that would otherwise be undiscovered.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and it works in Dragon Quest Heroes 2’s favor.
The game has tons of callbacks to the series it stems from, and as a big supporter of nostalgia, this sat very well. The soundtrack sounds like they simply took the old games and polished up the speakers a bit. The sound effects from monsters and even the menu sounds are the same as they were when we first heard them. While this would maybe be strange in a game like Final Fantasy XV which has clearly changed art styles since its series roots, it fits in Dragon Quest Heroes 2.
The game is so happy and vibrant that the cute, nostalgic sounds mesh really well with the bright color palette. Seeing bright blue slimes with their painted on faces will bring a smile from even the saltiest of gamers. It retains what made the predecessors great better than many series can claim.
The voice acting is also fantastic.
Early on, you meet Lazarel’s flying slime companion that speaks. Being a slime that speaks, he makes tons of “goo” puns, and they’re great in an awful, yet somehow still great. Lazarel, Teresa and the rest of the gang is very well voiced and not the least bit awkward like some games tend to be, and the quality is very consistent as well.
Where the game does lack polish is the Wild Zones. War Zones are fun and narrative-driven. The Wild Zones are more for exploration, loot gathering, and leveling. However, they just aren’t as fun as the War Zones. Most of the time, it just feels like an oversized area with fetch quests. The game does a good job of not making you feel like you need to grind, except very lightly when you change vocation, but then makes you traverse Wild Zones and fight groupings of monsters that are in the way. The fighting in Wild Zones just doesn’t feel different enough, making them feel like the less-thought-out part of the game. They really could have done with another gameplay element to bring like to Wild Zones.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 was a nice side street to the Dragon Quest main series. As mentioned before, if it took the place of a main series title, it would be more upsetting. Instead, we got something fun between sequels that takes place in a world we’ve known for 30 years.
It doesn’t have the best mechanics in a Dynasty Warrior-like game, but mixing the play style with JRPG elements and storytelling is a welcome addition to the genre. Alright, now where’s our Dragon Quest 11...