Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below review by Martin Wharmby.
Square Enix has announced that Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is now available on Steam. Recently released for the PlayStation 4, it is the first full-scale action RPG in the Dragon Quest series and comes from a legendary trio of creators, including series mastermind Yuji Horii, revolutionary composer Koichi Sugiyama and world-renowned artist Akira Toriyama. In honour of the new release, we present the review for the PS4 version of Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, which appeared in Issue 43 of MyM magazine…
To distil Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below down to nothing more than a Dynasty Warriors game in Dragon Quest clothing would be the grossest of oversimplifications. DQH is much more than just a mindless mass brawler, and clearly a brave experimentation for both the Omega Force team and Square Enix, who haven’t put out a Dragon Quest game on a home console in a long time.
Luceus and Aurora are captains of the Royal Guard in Arba when a mysterious spell, cast by a moustachioed villain, shatters the peace by turning the usually friendly monsters of the land against mankind. After choosing a character, you set out on a grand adventure to save the land, meet up with a cast that spans the Dragon Quest universe, and bash thousands and thousands of monsters to bits.
Fundamentally, this is the hack ’n’ slash action we all know and possibly love, but there’s a different scale here, with the gorgeous levels generally a bit smaller than in typical Omega Force titles. The fighting, however, is just as frantic and the further into the game you get, the more involved and challenging it becomes. Managing a party of four fighters eventually becomes a vital part of battle, although you’ll mainly be managing multiple characters’ health and individual ‘Tension’ super attacks.
The battles are far shorter than typical ‘musou’ fights, which suits the RPG-like nature of the campaign. After a couple of hours’ play, you gain access to the overworld thanks to your ‘airship’, the Stonecloud. It’s here where things open up, and highlight one of the more frustrating parts of DQH.
With a huge cast of characters, it’s important to stray a little from the main story and engage in side quests, hunt down special monsters and keep your party levelling up, because the main story doesn’t do a great job of keeping you sufficiently levelled. It wouldn’t be so bad to do some grinding, but missions and quests don’t offer any kind of level recommendation. It’s most obvious in defensive missions, as you will find yourself overwhelmed not by tricky enemies that slaughter you, but by enemies that simply take too long to defeat. It’s frustrating because you don’t know if you’re under-levelled or not using your Monster Medals smartly enough.
Yet it’s also in these defensive missions where Heroes feels genuinely new and different, as you desperately try to contain the monster threat using your own minions and, occasionally, environmental traps. Levelling characters and upgrading their equipment is hugely rewarding, and the fantastically told story grows increasingly more epic with each new mission and companion.
Dragon Quest Heroes doesn’t totally escape the shadow of the Warriors games, especially thanks to some aggravatingly bad friendly AI and the inescapable repetition brought on by the poorly balanced progression. What it does offer, however, is an RPG-like experience worthy of the series’ name, and some of the best fighting the Omega Force team has ever produced.