Dragon Quest is a series I’ve always admired from afar but never really gotten into. The fact that not many in the series have made it over to Western shores also adds to the reason why I’ve not picked it up. However, last month at EGX, I got my hands on a demo for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below (what a name!) which quickly became my Game of the Show! Would I enjoy the full game as much?
Game: Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Square Enix
(Review code provided by publisher)
I think one of the obvious things I was worried about when starting Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below was would I be lost in the story because I hadn’t played the others? The answer to that question was No. If you haven’t played a Dragon Quest title before, this is a great starting point, where iconic characters from the series past get together in one title. I think the fact that the story is quite easy to grasp helps greatly too, as it is a typical light vs dark scenario. Monsters that were once friendly and helpful towards humans have now turned due to a dark force, destroying the world in their path. It is up to you (You get to choose which protagonist you play as, either Luceus or Aurora) and you team to put a stop to the dark force and make everything right in the world. A pretty simple story, but an enjoyable one at that.
Enjoyable is a a term that describes Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below to a complete tee. Taken on by the team behind Dynasty Warriors, Omega Force have done a great job with this latest Dragon Quest title. Whether you are a massive JRPG nut like myself, or a hack and slash fan, this one is certainly for you. Why is that? Well, elements of both genres combine brilliantly. There are too many hack ‘n’ slash titles that become repetitive far too quickly but the RPG elements quickly dispel the repetitiveness, giving a sense of achievement when you are going through the numerous battles.
Yup, a lot of battles are exactly what you can count on when playing Dragon Quest Heroes. The missions are basically the same, travel to an area on your airship, completely wipe that area from monsters and mission done. Sounds pretty simple right? It is, but the combat system is nicely worked to keep it fresh. Your team is made up of over 10 characters although only a party of 4 is available in one mission. If you have played Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD, it is rather similar to the way that works. Each character that you have possess different, unique skills from the last, all dealing out devastating attacks in order to gain the advantage on the battlefield. The most devastating attack that everyone has equipped to them in the High Tension mode. This is only available when you have filled the required bar (Don’t worry, there is a tutorial that explains all this in more detail at the start) and can be activated by pressing the O button. This basically makes you invincible for a limited amount of time. Each character will also equip their main attack within the High Tension mode. This attack is the most powerful attack in the game and will wipe out multiple monsters in an instant and is fantastic to utilise when facing the bosses.
All these attacks are only as good as the level which your character is at. As you fight your way through the game, your characters will level up, which in turn will grant you skill points. You are then able to allocate these earned skill points to one of your characters attributes. Whether you want to heighten their HP, MP or Strength, it is all their to obtain as long as you have the required amount of skill points available to you. Compare it to other games in the genre, the system is relatively simple, but it you can’t really fault the system that is in place.
Omega Force have done a great job in nailing down the visuals in Dragon Quest Heroes. With a lot of the places you visit all having that unique, vibrant look to them, travelling around is a feast for the eyes. This is complimented with a great music score for the game, all which has a traditional JRPG vibe to it. The voice acting could be better I think, as sometimes I thought the voice didn’t really match up to the character. The option for either English or Japanese voices was a nice touch. Even if I don’t understand Japanese at all, it is rather amusing to hear how enthusiastic the characters all sound!
Length wise, don’t expect to complete Dragon Quest Heroes in one sitting. It will take you around 35 – 40 hours to complete. There are a few huge difficulty spikes in the game, so expect to have to do some level grinding in some of the side quests that are on offer. Even if you have completed a mission, you still can travel back to that area in order to gain some extra experience.
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is a game full of charm. A system which is relatively simple yet so addictive should definitely be rewarded in my eyes. It isn’t perfect however, as many will feel that the story is too weak or the character growth system should be deeper. I agree to an extent, but it should not take away from what is an excellent game. If you haven’t yet tried a Dragon Quest title before, now is the time to dive right in.