Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe And The Blight Below Review – A Bloody Good Slime

Is this game bad? Don’t be Yggdrasilly!

01

Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: PS4
Released: October 13, 2015
Copy purchased

Tecmo Koei apparently wants to do for hack n’ slash action what Telltale is doing for adventure games – marrying its core gameplay to any interested parties in the hope some magic will be made. Hot off the heels of last year’s excellent Hyrule Warriors, the fundamentals of Dynasty Warriors pay a visit to Square Enix in order to bring us Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below.

The result? It’s very different, whether you’re playing because of Dragon QuestDynasty Warriors, or both.

Though there’s a nucleus of the button-smashing hack n’ slash combat for which Koei is (perhaps notoriously) known, the influence of Square Enix’s RPG sensibilities are deeply rooted within the whole experience.

Combat may be grounded in simple combo attacks, but they’re flavored by mana-draining spells – performed by holding down a shoulder button in conjunction with a face button. Rather than build upon strings of melee attacks like usual Warriors games, Dragon Quest Heroes expands its spellcasting and boasts a party of four playable characters that can be switched to at will.

Hyrule Warriors was already an impressive blend of The Legend of Zelda and Omega Force’s sequel-happy schtick, but Heroes takes the idea even further, working hard to create something that feels unmistakably Dragon Quest despite the constant battery perform upon hundreds of enemy peons.

02

Many of the game’s missions feel more like Tower Defense games than typical Musou stages, often charging the party with something to protect. While a handful of these take the form of dreary escort missions, most of them are cleverly designed battles in which you’re constantly trying to stem the flow of monsters while ensuring a key target doesn’t get destroyed.

Clever use of Monster Medals can help swing a battle in the player’s favor. Oftentimes, defeated monsters drop Medals which act as a means of summoning said monster. Some of these creatures unleash one-shot attacks, but most of them act as sentries, spawning on the battlefield as an allied soldier and guarding a position until defeated. Here, the Tower Defense elements really shine, as players are encouraged to use their minions as guards while they take out strategic enemy spawn points.

Naturally, you can only have a certain amount of Medals at once, so choosing the right beast for the right job is imperative.

It’s a fantastic new spin on the usual Warriors flow, replacing its regular “kill the enemy general” objective with something remarkably more strategic. Battles can get hectic, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in collecting monsters and unleashing them on their former comrades.

04

Sadly, monsters are a bit less effective at working for you than they are at fighting you. While the idea is to use minions as defensive sentries, a lot of them are rubbish at their job, which means that you can’t safely rely on them to protect key strategic areas. No matter how many or how powerful your guards, the protected objective invariably takes considerable damage whenever you leave to try and win the fight.

Sentries certainly help, but it can be annoying to have a hugely defended position and still find that your gate or magic tree root is getting inevitably battered by the opposition.

Quick movements and a keen eye on the battlefield (it helps to have a map), however, will ensure victory in most situations. It’s an intense game, perhaps moreso than any Warriors style game yet released, with not just mindless peons to take down but a regular influx of large, boss-tier opponents. Despite the anarchy, as well as the potential frustration factor of its defensive nature, Heroes remains an impressively well balanced game provided you keep an eye on the objectives.

03

Not all missions consist of defending a location. Some are more about fighting from one end of a map to another, and you can return to previous areas in an endless mode, hammering away at waves of monsters until you’re tired. There are also some proper boss battles to engage in and scads of additional side content piled on top besides.

What really makes Heroes stand out is just how much of the Dragon Quest spirit is lovingly preserved. A traditional alchemy system is in place, allowing for the crafting of accessories, while everybody’s favorite helmeted blacksmith is on hand to sell increasingly powerful weapons. Mini Medals are earned and traded for special loot, and there’s even a full-fledged Monster Hunter quest board, charging players with such tasks as killing a certain number of enemies or gathering a set of materials.

The option to switch between four characters in a single fight adds variety to any battle and evokes the feel of playing with a real Dragon Quest party in realtime. Familiar spells like Kabuff and Kasnooze are wielded by certain characters, and each hero has their own distinct playstyle with a series of unique and recognizable attacks.

Every playable warrior has their own skill tree with expandable attacks and stat buffs, as well opportunities for costume and weapon unlocks.

05

The “musou” system seen in regular Warriors games has been given a touch of DQ flavor, replaced as it is with Tension. Tension builds as a character strings hits together and racks up combos. Once the gauge is full, this tension can be released to give players temporary invulnerability, the power to use spells without consuming mana, and an ending coup de grâce that deals huge damage to everything on the screen. Tension takes a while to build, which once again gives it a more tactical edge – unleashing its power at just the right moment can be a critical decision.

I would have liked an option to move around the map at a swifter pace. While battlefields aren’t as huge as they could have been, it can still get tedious to slog around any given arena. As the game progresses, the main player character (able to be named yourself in time-honored DQ tradition) gets the Zoom spell, able to fly to key areas of each map, but even with this handy ability the lack of horses or even a Hyrule Warriors sprint can be a pain.

Mission structure is stunted as well. After every battle, you have to return to the game’s hub-world airship without an option to just move onto the next challenge. Most story quests have reams of text to get through before and after, adding to the sense of drudgery. It’s no dealbreaker, but Heroes has a tendency to risk its own momentum with a somewhat inconsistent pace and some ponderous mission progression.

Dragon Quest Heroes is massively entertaining and, like Hyrule Warriors before it, an impressive blend of two genres that go surprisingly well together. One weakness, however, is its story. While competently voice acted with a charming range of British regional dialects (Cor Blimey!), the narrative is impossible not to cringe at with its stereotypical framework of light versus darkness and the usual “friendship can accomplish anything” guff that accompanies far too many anime storylines.

It all gets a bit too twee for my liking, though there are some smart moments – the idea of monsters being former allies, and their nature being subverted in an unexpected way, is a unique idea I wish had been more of a driving plot point.

Oh, and Healix needs to just shut up. Shut up forever.

06

It would be a grave error not to say the game looks damn gorgeous. Akira Toriyama’s beloved designs look fantastic despite this title eschewing the usually obligatory cel-shading, and his range of cheerfully silly monster designs are brought faithfully to life. Colors are vibrant and bright, while attack animations are superb. Everything just looks so pretty and the impact of attacks have some real weight behind them. Recognizable DQ series music litters the entire experience, too, right down to the retro chime you hear whenever a mission is completed.

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is a beautiful game that does more with the Warriors franchise than the main Warriors games have done in a long time. Despite putting hours and hours into the thing, I’ve got plenty yet to do, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it so far. Aside from some poor pacing decisions and a rather limp narrative, Tecmo Koei has made lightning strike twice by merging two franchises together in yet another surprisingly brilliant way.

With its smaller scale, party-based character system, and variety of both magic and mundane attacks, this is a production that carries all the trappings of a Dragon Quest game in the shell of a Musou experience, with a large dose of defensive strategy and even a dash of Pokemon-esque monster collecting on the side. While not quite the revelation Hyrule Warriors was, it’s nonetheless another case of lightning in a button-smacking bottle.

Also, it has metal slimes in it. They’re a bugger to catch.

God, I miss Dragon Quest VIII.

9/10
Superb

Greg137
Guest
Greg137
I do not like dynasty warriors my Dragon Quest… The only reason this game has any potential is due to Dragon quest itself… This game would have been huge if it had an open world like a normal dragon quest game… Mixing dynasty warriors into it ruins the game… On another note Ps4 search engine is more accurate than pc. by the way, probably proof that google is deliberately screwing the search results, which doesn’t surprise me one bit……. I put in the same exact words and yet the ps4 is relevant and the pc search proves worthless… I wonder… Read more »
adampoole
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adampoole

i held off for awhile but finally picked it up a little while ago.. didn’t finish it yet but what i did play was really fun.. reminded me of the one piece pirate warriors games i like.. with a bit more structure and a connected world rather then just stages

Barry Wallace
Guest
Barry Wallace

The only good DQ game made the rest were frankly shit. But this one was a lot of fun.

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000
Finally got around to picking this up, and I gotta say, it’s the perfect pallet cleanser for me. I’ve been playing a lot of bloodborne and fallout recently, and DQH is a nice thing to have when you just want to hack up some monsters and not worry about having a grimdark story killing off your friends and allies. I don’t know if there is a dlc plan, I’m sure there is, but I’d welcome new fighters from other DQ’s and Squenix games. I’d happily pay for a Chrono Trigger expansion. Hell, I’d love an old school dlc set too.… Read more »
FiachSidhe
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FiachSidhe

There are several DLC packs out already in Japan. The coolest thing is we get it all on the disc for free.

Leon
Guest
Leon

Just finished the game. Completely disagree, this game isn’t fun, it’s just mashing the attack button on enemies that don’t die! Watching a red bar slowly decrease, dodging now and again.

I love dynasty warriors because each mash of the button sends dozens of guys flying. I kept hoping there would be stages with more weak mobs grouped together but it never happens, there is never even that many enemies on screen at once.

Also what the hell is up with the 4 combo only thing?

Greg137
Guest
Greg137
I prefer Dragon quest over dynasty warriors, but at least we seem to be on the same page on something… This game isn’t fun… I don’t know what they are doing with half the characters either as I can barely understand Alena with her accent, she never had that in dragon quest 4… The game seems very linear in structure… It needs more open world and less legion mob mashing… Dragon quest 3 and 9 are actually among my personal favorites, and it is a shame too because the graphics and sound are all top notch, but the actual gameplay… Read more »
Gordon Smith
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Gordon Smith

looks good still doesn’t make me want run out get ps4 still, system still lacking titles just happy more RPG’s are coming to PS4 once theirs decent library ill get one. As for dragon quest ill run out get remake of 7 and 8 square finally going bring them over, about bloody time…

Glottis
Guest
Glottis
I seem to be one of the few who are put off by the Tower Defense style layout on most maps. It’s still keeping me from buying the game honestly. Perhaps i should give it a chance, but it’s just not what i want out of my Warriors experience. The maps just looks so tiny to me. I’m hoping they return to more of a standard type of level design for the sequel. Kinda like what Pirate Warriors 2 did, after trying the more experimental “adventure platforming” route they took with the first game, and failed miserably at. I commend… Read more »
RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

I love this game too. It sucks though what Square is doing with this game. Telling people it needs to be bought for 7 and 8 for 3DS to be localized.

Daryl Corey
Guest
Daryl Corey

I hate those sorts of actions but I do understand them. The US is usually a rather weak market for DQ series. What they are saying is less them holding 7&8 ransom and more they are trying to use sales of DQ Heroes to gauge the interest in DQ in the US and try to estimate potential sales to see if it is worth it financially to bring out 7&8 on the 3DS here.

RaikuNH
Guest
RaikuNH

The problem is this whole debacle came out after SE said they’ll pay more attention to classic JRPG’S after Bravely Default’s suprise success.

Also, now they’re thinking of heading to Kickstarter for localizations.

Daryl Corey
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Daryl Corey

The kickstarter thing is annoying to think about

MechaSlinky
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MechaSlinky

At least they’re resting the future of the series in the hands of a good game that has a decent amount of hype, unlike what Nintendo did with Chibi Robo.

Daryl Corey
Guest
Daryl Corey

Well I think for whatever reason Nintendo may be looking to let Chibi Robo die.

RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

I think if they got rid of that godawful roulette it couldve been one of the best platformrrs Nintendo has ever released.

Glottis
Guest
Glottis
Kinda strange when you think about it though. I love Warriors games & i’m at least very interested in DQ, but this is mechanically more of a Warriors game than anything else. And while DQ fans are likely to buy this, they are just as likely to return the game because it wasn’t what they where looking for. Warriors and DQ games are vastly different experiences. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a great mash up, because it is. Financially even more so since it combines what at the very least used to be 2 of the biggest video game franchises… Read more »
Gordon Smith
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Gordon Smith

they are going localize them, square finally confirm they are coming, seriously how well bravely default did in sales in NA, i don’t understand why they held back 7, 8 is coming as well.

ManuOtaku
Guest
ManuOtaku

“God, I miss Dragon Quest VIII.”
I did start a replay this very weekend.

Elliott Moon
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Elliott Moon

Isn’t there a port coming out for 3ds soon too?

ManuOtaku
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ManuOtaku

Yes, i think that is the case.

Elliott Moon
Guest
Elliott Moon

awesome i want to play dragon quest 8 again think i might hold out for that version, taking it on the go would be great for me.

RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

It is out in Japan. Sadly, Square is using this game as leverage going “if Heroes sells well, we’ll consider bringing 7 and 8 for 3DS to the states.”

Elliott Moon
Guest
Elliott Moon

mother fuckers

RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

Yep. And they’re considering crowdfunding for localization. The same day it’s released.

Elliott Moon
Guest
Elliott Moon

fucking why? its already been localise twice at this point you’re telling me they will take this risk on putting it on mobile (a market where only f2p makes any money) but not on 3ds, man fuck square

RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

7’s localized as well.

Gareth
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Gareth

The most important question is Yangus still voiced by Ricky Grover?

Gordon Smith
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Gordon Smith

yes its him again, u can go look up voice cast list

Shui Gor
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Shui Gor

Knew you’d love this game, Jim.

aimei66
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aimei66

This game is one of my favourites of the year. I hope the changes they made to the musou are carried over, because this game really bought meaning to the previous mindless hack n slash mechanics of warriors games.

Sylocat
Guest

So, Dragon Quest has gotten a Dynasty Warriors treatment, and apparently their next installment is aping Minecraft. They’re branching out!

Ion badger
Guest
Ion badger

I know it will never happen because Konami is Konami, but I’d really love a Castlevania Warriors game!

Daryl Corey
Guest
Daryl Corey

That would be awesome with all the big names from the series and such

Vohaul86
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Vohaul86

Have fun killing red skeletons ’till end times…

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