Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below (PC) Review

By Drew Hurley 09.06.2017

Review for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree

Dragon Quest is a cultural phenomenon in Japan. There, it is one of the biggest franchises in gaming, much beloved by the populous and with numerous numbered entries in the long-running series along with a range of spin-offs on tons of platforms. The spin-off titles have shown that they can work well with the recently released and superb Dragon Quest Builders, but how will the series fare as an Omega Force Musou title? Cubed3 has given the PlayStation 4 version favourable reviews, so how does this fare on the PC?

There are a few key elements required in a series for it to work as a Musou title. A big catalogue of characters? Check, thanks to the numerous titles there are plenty of heroes to play as and villains to cut down. Varied locales to make up the stages? Check, again the back catalogue of games have plenty of iconic areas to pull designs from. Need a ton of unique enemies? Check, Dragon Quest has a mammoth amount of monsters, hell, there are tons of different variations of the series iconic Slimes! Looks like Dragon Quest Heroes has all it needs to lay the groundwork for a significant sized Musou, but taking these elements and making something special is always a big challenge. There have been plenty of Musou that could not live up to their source material, looking at Gundam and Kamen Rider!

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below  on PC

The story of Dragon Quest Heroes opens on a world where all the humans and monsters live together in peace, until one day when the evil Velasco unleashes a great dark spell over the land of Arda, turning the previously friendly creatures into berserk monsters who suddenly lash out at their friends and their masters. Velasco plans to use these monsters to restore the great dark dragon Shadroth, so therefore it's up to protagonist pair Acht and Mehr to recruit iconic characters from Dragon Quest history and to stop Velasco before it's too late.

Despite the story being based around these once friendly creatures suddenly turning into terrifying mindless killing machines who attack on sight, in-game they are nothing like that. In each area huge groups of mobs are common, but them actually attacking is rare. It's possible to run through densely populated zones, right next to enemies, only to have little and less of them even react. It feels at times like perhaps Velasco's spell didn't quite affect them all and perhaps the characters are slaughtering these poor innocent creatures. Doing it with ease too, as taking these enemies apart is the simplest task. Just a few mashes of the buttons and the cute little pack of slimes are turned into a puddle on the plains.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below  on PC

It's a common aspect of Musou to easily rip through mountains of enemies but it usually requires, at least, a few changes to tactics and variations of actions. Dodging the odd attack or focusing on specific enemy types first? Well none of that is needed with the trash here. Just mash away as any of the characters and a trail of death and destruction is left in their wake. Thankfully there are some enemies that force a little encephalon effort, there are generals mixed in with the trash. These mini-bosses and the occasional full-sized-boss enemies require a little more than mindless mashing but still, sadly, lack any real challenge.

Outside of the combat, the gameplay consists of exploring the same old type of zone that most Musou employ: rather bland and with no real secrets to uncover. It's a disappointing design decision. Being based on a JRPG it would have been great to have tons of secrets and Easter Eggs scattered around for the dedicated to track them down. There are objectives in these zones, of course, and all quite familiar to Musou fans. Capture or defend specific locations as legions of enemies slowly converge upon them. Take out monster-spawning portals and the age-old marmite of gaming - escort quests. Where the game shines though, is in the unique aspects of the gameplay. For example, enemies have a chance to drop special coins; these can be used to summon minions which add an extra element onto the defence sections of the game (of which there are many).

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below  on PC

While the gameplay can leave a lot to be desired, the characters are absolutely perfect and a real joy for fans of the franchise. The new protagonists are decent enough and fit well into the series, but where the game shines is with the iconic faces from the series history. The game allows for a team of four to be sent out into the wild and unlike most Musou they can freely be switched between, each with unique weapons, fighting styles and abilities. Jessica, Nera, Terry and Bianca all look, play and sound fantastic and are definitely the highpoint of the title.

The aesthetic is also flawless. It is a picture perfect adaptation of the trademark look of the series, and for its age the characters and inhabitants of the world look great. Akira Toriyama's character designs and the signature enemies of the franchise have always been full of their own unique charm and the jump to Musou has given them a stunning makeover. That being said, while graphically this looks lovely, the performance has lots of issues. When running into densely populated areas or even just areas with complex geography the game starts to struggle, with stutters and very noticeable slowdown. These performance issues are even more evident when it comes to combat; literally every time a combat starts the frame rate drops dramatically.

Screenshot for Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Fans of the Dragon Quest franchise will adore this game - and with good reason; it's packed with content tailored just for them. The story is enjoyable, the characters top notch, the music and art styles are amazing. If only the underlying aspects lived up to it. The gameplay gets repetitive and the enemy AI is horrible, the missions feel too short, and it's all too easy. That being said, there's still a very enjoyable experience here, but it could have been something so much more. It could have been something truly special.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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