Have you ever been playing Dragon Quest and thought to yourself, “man, I wish these turn-based battles would turn into large-scale hack-and-slash marathons”? If you have, then Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is definitely for you. This is a game that takes the bonkers screen-filling attacks and hundreds of enemies from the Dynasty Warriors series and applies a nifty Dragon Quest filter over the top. For fans of both series, this is as good as it gets.
It isn’t just a Dragon Quest filter, either. Like with Hyrule Warriors, everything here is Dragon Quest flavoured. The characters, settings and enemies you’d expect to be all Dragon Quest, and it’s always a delight to watch. This is a bright and breezy tale about all the monsters turning bad (they were once very friendly) and you having to stop them from causing all sorts of havoc. Along with the bright and breezy graphics and story, you have loads of whimsical tunes to hum along to as you bash your way through thousands of Slimes, Hammerhoods and Drackys. Indeed, all the jingles you know and love from the series are present here. When you level up you’re greeted with the delightfully familiar. Little touches like this make the game. It’s superb throughout. Dragon Quest Heroes is a joy and remains surprisingly fun throughout its 25+ hours run time thanks to its excellent presentation and fun brilliant sense of fun.
While the gameplay is repetitive, you will still be having fun after hours of doing pretty much the same thing over and over again. The game’s bright graphics and happy soundtrack gives off the impression that you’ll be having an easy time in the game, but to be honest, its difficulty may surprise you. The small enemies won’t give you any trouble, but you’ll constantly be finding out that the bigger ones can cause some serious damage. Even the biggest, baddest magic attacks will do little to the biggest, baddest enemies. The boss battles are even tougher, and I’m not ashamed to say that I had to re-attempt some stages several times. Thankfully, when you lose in a stage, your experience and gold remains. It’s quite easy to grind up levels if you’re finding it tricky. I enjoyed the challenge, although there were some stages that could have done with a little design change.
You can go into each stage with a maximum of four party members (most of them are well-known entities from the pantheon of Dragon Quest such as Yangus from VIII), and you can switch between them at will, but I really wished you could leave them put wherever you pleased. A fair number of stages involved you defending things such as Yggdrasil Roots, with countless enemies emerging from all corners of the map. These levels require you to stay put, or defend from the front, taking out the spawning enemies before they overwhelm you. It would have been much nicer if they allowed you to leave any numbers of team members in key defensive areas to try to hold off the enemy hordes, letting you switch between them when it gets too much for just the computer to control. You can do this with monsters you receive through medals within each stage, but they are a lot weaker than the playable characters.
This is the game’s biggest weakness, but it is a limiting one. Dragon Quest Heroes would have felt far more approachable and fluid if it allowed you to leave team members in key areas. Apart from this, however, Dragon Quest Heroes is very enjoyable, only a stuttering frame rate holding it back. Each character is a joy to use and offers you something different, with big move sets that can be as complicated or simple as you want them to be. There are loads of weapons to buy, helpful items to craft and the Coup De Grâce moves are fantastic, screen-destroying things that can take out hundreds of enemies at once. Dragon Quest Heroes does a great job at keeping the game fresh despite its repetitive gameplay thanks to its excellent presentation and surprising difficulty. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good amount of fun for a surprisingly long time.
Dragon Quest Heroes is a surprisingly long, but surprisingly fun game despite its repetitive nature. It’s whimsical, charming presentation is a great pick-me-up.