Fresh off last year's Hyrule Warriors, Koei Tecmo's Omega Force developer is back with another hack-and-slash game based off a popular franchise. Dragon Quest Heroes aims to take Dragon Quest's colorful characters and apply them to a familiar Omega Force form and add in some RPG elements. I recently got the chance to play several hours of Dragon Quest Heroes thanks to an import copy on PS4. While it certainly is good news to see that a new Dragon Quest game will be headed to the West, my time with the game left me less than impressed.
The game starts off letting the player name both a male and female protagonist before some other original characters join up. Players can select between the two protagonists, but as far as I could tell this seemed meaningless, as they were both available for use for the duration of my playtime. Players can also choose between two control styles: the traditional hack-and-slash style where combos are created by mixing two different attack buttons and another where players can simply hold down the attack button. The latter seems intended for those with less experience with action games, which is a bit odd since similar titles already have simple controls.The new control scheme doesn't work very well either, and didn't seem to allow for much in the way of combo control.
Thankfully, the traditional control scheme works well. Characters have a variety of combos, often ending in some classic Dragon Quest spells. The game does use an MP system, and these skills can be activated at any time, not just at the end of combos, which provides some extra utility. Outside of that, the game mostly felt like a typical Warriors game with just a few added features. For starters, the player has a party of four characters which can be switched up between missions from the currently available roster. Party members don't wander off on their own, but instead stay together to let players swap between characters on the fly.
Game progression also mixes in some RPG elements, as new equipment becomes available after certain intervals and can be purchased from the player's home base (which is a flying airship) between missions. Characters gain experience and level up as one might expect, and story sequences and new characters pop up as things move along. There's no real exploration or anything else RPG related, as progression is just a matter of completing missions selected from a static world map. Players can wander around the airship and talk to various NPCs between missions as well to break up the monotony.
This is all well and good, but Dragon Quest Heroes still seems to feel a bit lacking. The missions I played were relatively straightforward, and at times, boring. Battlefields were relatively small and missions seemed to mostly revolve around protecting a stationary point. It is possible that these repetitive missions are simply introductions intended to show off the games mechanics before getting more varied deeper in. One specific new mechanic is the ability to summon monsters to help in a battle. Some monsters will drop cards which can then be used to summon that monster in the current mission. This came quite in handy as these early missions involved taking out imps that controlled portals which let in a never ending supply of enemies. There's no real control beyond dropping the monster on the field and letting them go to town, and it isn't always clear that they are a friendly monster which leads to wasting time accidentally hacking away at a friendly minion.
While my time with the game was certainly fun, I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. Without the depth and extra modes that made Hyrule Warriors so fun, Dragon Quest Heroes felt a bit lacking. The combat also stuck pretty close to other Omega Force games, which made it feel like it was little more than Dynasty Warriors with a Dragon Quest coat of paint on it. It will take playing through the entire game to get a full measure of it, and despite my reservations there still is a lot to like. It's just good to see a new Dragon Quest game heading to the West.