Before reviewing this game, first I have to acknowledge the mouthful that is the game’s full name: Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe And The Blight Below (or as I thought of it before playing it – Dragon Quest Heroes: Save The Cheerleader, Save The World). And with that acknowledged, let’s get on with it.
I’m a huge fan of the Dragon Quest games, ever since the release of Journey of the Cursed King which was my introduction to the series and some of its memorable characters. Some characters from that game as well as several other games in the series come into play. There’s a total of 12 (+1) playable characters with different play-styles. Albeit some characters do handle similarly. I refer to the handling and play-styles of characters differing but I should probably talk about the mechanics of the game before going into the specifics of characters. Unlike most of the other games, Heroes is not a JRPG, but a hack ‘n’ slash action RPG.
By building hit chains you build up tension, or you can alternatively hold a button to ‘psyche up’ to increase tension. Reaching max tension allows you to go into high tension mode for a short time, which allows you to use abilities/spells without using magic points (a slowly recharging resource), makes you impervious to damage, stuns and stat debuffs and ends with a coup de grace, a character’s ultimate attack which varies from character to character (regarding animation anyway, they all just seem to do heavy damage in a large area). For example, with Bianca’s, she summons Percy, a great sabercat she befriended in Hand of the Heavenly Bride when she was a child.
Each level basically consists of mowing down enemies, which generally spawn in waves, often from portals called Darkmaws, these are guarded by Mawkeepers, stronger versions of other monsters with a darker colour palette, killing them causes their portal to dissipate. Those are the easier stages, where you just need to kill and survive, there are also stages wherein you have to protect either NPCs or a root of the world tree, Yggdrasil, from a monstrous onslaught. Of course, there are also boss stages at the end of each chapter and you can also go back to completed areas to fight against endless mobs to grind for experience, get items or complete quests.
Aside from gold to buy arms and armour (or, orbs, as is the case here), monsters also drop ingredients that you can use for alchemy to create accessories of varying effects. Or they can also be used to complete quests, which often are a matter of collecting certain ingredients, clearing a map of monsters or killing X amount of specific monsters.
Regarding the different play-styles, each character has a basic attack and a strong attack, which can be strung together for different combos. They each have four spells/abilities to use also. And each hero is quite varied in how they play, each with different weapon sets with exception of at least three characters that use sword and shield. You’ll have many different weapon types to buy: swords, shields, staves, boomerangs, gauntlets, spears, whips, axes, bows, wands and fans. There’s a good mix of roles amongst the character roster.
Oh, I hadn’t actually mentioned, you don’t just choose a character for a mission, you choose a team of four. One of which being either Aurora or Luceus, whichever of the two you choose to play as. And three others, either the unchosen (of either Aurora or Luceus), ruler of the realm, King Doric, or engineer extraordinaire Isla, just to name the natives of the game’s realm, there’s also the characters from other games. Despite choosing your character at the start, you can switch between your party members during stages.
The main story runs for about 20 to 25 hours. It works well at this length though, it may get a bit repetitive if it ran longer.
The story may not be as intricate as some of the others in the series but it works well, and the characters are generally likable. There is one rather annoying thing, in how it goes on about the ‘power of friendship’, earlier on it’s fine but toward the end of the game it’s just laid on so thick, literally going on about how they’re undefeatable as long as they’re together. It gets so cringe worthy… Other than that though it’s fine, the only other gripe was the change in Jessica’s voice (Jessica and Yangus were the only characters to have voices prior to Heroes) which isn’t bad by any means just a bit jarring at first considering much I loved their Journey of the Cursed King.
Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t perfect, but as a complete side-quest to the main series, it more than ticks the boxes.