Author Topic: Dragon Quest Treasures (Switch) Review  (Read 1497 times)

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Dragon Quest Treasures (Switch) Review
« on: December 16, 2022, 11:28:07 AM »

A charming exploration JRPG where the X doesn’t quite mark the spot.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/62413/dragon-quest-treasures-switch-review

There’s something about Dragon Quest, man. I’ve only played a few of them, but even I can appreciate how cozy these bright, poppy worlds are and how good Akira Toriyama’s character designs look. In that respect, Dragon Quest Treasures delivers. But if you aren’t a dedicated Dragon Quest fan or a new player trying to experience their first Japanese role-playing game, Treasures is a tough sell.

Dragon Quest Treasures is an exploration-focused action-RPG starring Erik and his sister Mia, previously seen in Dragon Quest XI. The third-person game acts as a prequel of sorts, with the siblings being kids traveling on a raider ship that picked them up.

In the intro, Erik frees two mystical creatures – a green flying pig and a purple flying cat named Porcus and Purrsula – captive on the ship’s deck, which then transport the siblings to another world in the sky. This world, Draconia, consists of a series of floating islands shaped like two dragons. When Erik and Mia enter the new world, they are given daggers that let them talk to their companions.

Porcus and Purrsula explain that they are magical beings sent by gods to collect seven dragon stones which are in some way important to Draconia. Porcus and Purrsula task the siblings, who are hungry for adventure, with gathering the stones. The catch is that the land is full of treasure and therefore populated by competing treasure hunters. You then establish a base and, at the end of this two-hour tutorial, are sent into the world to hunt treasure and find stones.

It is at this point that you’re given access to all five of Treasures’ Pokemon Legends: Arceus-style biomes. There’s a desert one, a fire one, an ice one, a marshlands one, and a grassy plains one. You go to an open zone, find treasure buried in the ground, and dig it up by holding the A button. You locate the treasure using the help of up to three monster companions who travel with you and are able to sniff out valuables as you explore the world and complete quests.

You recruit monsters by fighting them in the wild until one wants to join you through a “scouting” process. You then have to go back to your base and give it the materials it requests (usually found in the various biomes) before it joins your team. Thankfully, there’s storage once you recruit them so you aren’t tied to only having three at any given time.

When you’re close to finding treasure, your monsters alert you and you can use your magical compass to see telepathic images from your monsters' first-person perspectives that show you exactly where the treasure is located. Treasure is not hard to find generally, and once you bring it back to base your vault gains “value” that increases your treasure hunting rank. Increasing this rank progresses the story, lets you hunt down a couple more dragon stones, and boosts your base’s facilities.  

In addition to helping you find treasure, they fight alongside you in battle and each has one of several different field skills. One skill lets you sprint for a while, one lets you glide in the air, and another lets you locate materials easier. My King Slime, for example, lets me bounce on top of it in order to reach high cliffs.

While these powers work similarly to the traversal options in this year’s Pokemon games, they are tied to quickly-depleting stamina bars. These are no good. Stamina doesn’t make Treasures better or more difficult; it just annoys me when I run for 20 seconds on the back of my Sabrecat before having to jump off and jog across the open world for another 20 seconds while it recharges.

The combat, meanwhile, occurs in extremely light action RPG encounters not unlike a watered down Xenoblade or Ni No Kuni. Your monsters approach others in the wild and fight them automatically. You can do a couple Pikmin style commands, but for the most part they’re auto battling as you control your character (you can switch between Erik or Mia while you’re at your base – there is no difference between the two mechanically).

As a sibling, you fight enemies with your dagger via single button combos but the bulk of your actions will be from afar with a catapult slingshot. The slingshot is able to fire everything from pellets to elemental attacks, buffs, debuffs, and healing items at the monsters while they do their thing. There are also screen-clearing super moves that Erik/Mia and your monsters can utilize via a meter that charges over time.

The fights don’t control poorly, but I wouldn’t call the action particularly fun either. It’s pretty easy to get through Treasures’ encounters, and by level 30 I was handily defeating monsters 10-plus levels higher than me. Every fight felt mostly the same barring a few boss battles.

It could be that this combat – and game – were built with younger players in mind, and that they will have more fun running around the world with this style of combat, but for me the battles ran well out of steam by the time I rolled credits at around 14 hours. It doesn’t help that most of the bosses are reused, whether it’s a regular monster with a long health bar or the same lion guy you see like five different times.

Similarly, I take issue with the monster selection here. Of the 75-odd monsters available to recruit, there are probably about 20 unique species with unique animations. The rest are effectively repeated, with alternate color schemes and sometimes different powers. In other words, you have the blue Slime, the pink Slime, King Slime, Queen Slime, Metal Slime, and so on, all as “distinct” monsters. The bats, knights, and so on are all the same way, making the 144 recruitable Pokemon in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity seem like an embarrassment of riches by comparison.

Another annoyance can be found with the game’s rival mechanic. After a certain point in the story, rival treasure hunting gangs will attempt to steal your treasure as you explore the open zones. They’re easy to take out, and I found that one banked super move was usually plenty. Still, these sequences would at times pop up once every few minutes, making this otherwise chill vibes game into a somewhat more annoying one. Despite its simplistic structure or perhaps because of it, I did enjoy Dragon Quest Treasures as a lighter version of the exploration gameplay seen in Arceus. Digging up treasures and getting them appraised is quite fun, in part because of the enjoyable grind and in part because the treasures are often based on characters and items in previous Dragon Quest games (think Smash Bros. trophies).

Collecting cooler monsters and finding rare materials also contributed to a mostly satisfying loop, and I’m a sucker for some fun JRPG exploration. I also like looking at the colorful cell-shaded graphics, which have plenty of Dragon Quest charm to enjoy. Thankfully, it runs well on Switch.

The story is similarly a charming and low stakes affair about two siblings going on an adventure, but don’t go into it if you want character development, high stakes, or even insight into the world of Dragon Quest XI. It’s something chill and low consequence to get you from the beginning of the game to the end of it.

It’s with these pleasant vibes where Dragon Quest Treasures finds its strength. At its best, Treasures is JRPG candy that acts either as a solid first JRPG for new players or a relaxing diversion for series fans. I just wish the game wouldn’t get in its own way so much. If Treasures had more monsters, a more thoughtful combat experience, fewer annoying interruptions, and some more bosses, Treasures would hit the Saturday morning cartoon highs of Level-5s best titles. This, unfortunately, misses the mark a bit.