Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below - PS4 Review
We said it in our preview, and we'll say it again, in our 20-odd years of covering video games we can't recall a mouthful of a name like Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below so for the rest of this review, we'll just call it Dragon Quest Heroes. What made us so excited about this game was the fact that Omega Force, the developers of the very popular hack and slash franchise Dynasty Warriors was developing this game with oversight by Square-Enix. So what's it about then? Read on...
|Visuals in the game are impressive.|
When a dark shockwave sweeps through the city of Arba, the monsters that once lived alongside the people in peace are driven into a frenzied rage. As either the hero Luceus or the heroine Aurora, the player joins forces with a cast of fan favorites from previous Dragon Quest titles, such as Alena, Bianca and Yangus, to bring the rampaging hordes of monsters to their senses and restore order to the kingdom.
So the storyline is pretty bog standard by any imagination and while the visuals in the cut-scenes really are pretty gorgeous, the storyline doesn't offer as much depth as one would expect from a game in the Dragon Quest franchise. It certainly isn't up there with the RPGs and while there are some fun moments it's clear this game is set up as a hack and slash title, but there are plenty of magical elements and special moves to perform.
|Now that's one fierce enemy.|
In this game you will enter the battlefield in a party of four with familiar characters from the franchise, now all fully voiced, with each character able to be levelled up and upgraded with unique spells and abilities and then switched between during battle to ensure the right skills are being used at the right time. In keeping with the RPG roots for the Dragon Quest franchise there is plenty of customisation including weapons, shields, and items to change your characters stats.
As you progress through the game more and more characters will join your cause, but that leaves you with a large roster of characters, of which only four can be used during battles (you can switch between them by pressing L2 during play). It's critical to have a balanced team with a range of abilities and powers, but it's equally important to upgrade your characters equipment such as weapons, shields and equipment but that's pretty easy with the number of collectable items and money which you collect during battles.
|Now that's one massive enemy in Dragon Quest.|
As you battle through the game you will encounter some bosses that are absolutely epic both in terms of size and the amount of damage they can take before being defeated. Fortunately while you have four playable characters to control you will often be joined by others and as you defeat foes on the battlefield you will be able to gather Monster Medals from defeated foes and then use up to 24 of them on the battlefield as allies to attack enemies or use their skills to aide your characters.
Sadly, we have a couple of issues with this game the biggest of which is that despite the fact there are four characters in your team there is no multiplayer available in Dragon Quest Heroes. That's right, there's no local multiplayer let alone any online multiplayer - that latter has been confirmed for the sequel to this game, but that won't help here obviously.
|Sabercats look cute, but they have sharp teeth!|
Our other gripe with this game is that while it's nice to have plenty of content - the game will take around 30 hours to complete - the missions start to become too similar. Go to an area, defeat a large number of enemies and a boss, go to another area, defeat hundreds of enemies while protecting an item of significance and so on. Finally while there is plenty spoken dialogue in the game there is a massive amount of text as well - we know it goes with the RPG territory, but it does become a chore to read it all.
What a difference a visual style makes. Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors series has always displayed a lot of characters on-screen simultaneously, albeit with some draw/pop-in, however Dragon Quest Heroes looks much improved across the board however much of this can probably be put down to the vibrant colours. While Dynasty Warriors is often a wash of greys, reds and browns this game is filled with bright, vibrant colours and characters which brings with it a much more "fun" feel. Another big positive to this game are the gorgeous pre-rendered cut-scenes which, while they are often just characters standing around talking or about to enter battle, are pretty gorgeous to look at and a credit to the developers.
|So we're looking for the Circle of Light...|
There are still a couple of issues with the game. Draw-in is still evident at times, although certainly reduced from that seen in Dynasty Warriors, but the biggest technical issue relates to the camera which is a little too close to your character, but at times then gets lost in walls or other objects in confined spaces. This should have been resolved prior to release as it happens enough to annoy and require manual camera moves.
Sonically this game doesn't disappoint either with plenty of classic Dragon Quest theme music composed by Koichi Sugiyama from the franchise and it's a complete joy to listen to. The music isn't let down by the other aspects of audio with solid effects throughout - be they the physical clash of swords, or the wonderful sounds of magic being used. Dialogue is one area which may divide opinion with some pretty corny dialogue at times, but also a sense of fun to it which lifts the mood of the whole game. Characters are certainly diverse in their accents and delivery which is great as there's nothing worse than a game with dozens of characters that sound the same. Here, every character sounds like someone different.
|Aurora takes on a massive Dragon.|
Fans of the Dynasty Warriors games would do well to check this game out with it's similar, but improved, gameplay while Dragon Quest fans will love to see their favourite characters from the phenomenally successful RPG series. This is a fun, lengthy, family friendly hack and slash game that is worth checking out.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Bright, clean, fun visuals, great character design, but hampered by camera issues.||78%|
|SOUND||Classic Dragon Quest music with dialogue that rages from fun to corny, but it's lighthearted fun overall.||74%|
|GAMEPLAY||If you like Hack and Slash games like Dynasty Warriors or Shadow of Mordor then this should entertain.||85%|
|VALUE||While it becomes somewhat repetitive, there is a good 25+ hour game here so plenty of value.||87%|
|OVERALL||Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below may have one of the longest, silliest, names but it's a fun game that hack and slash fans should enjoy.||81%|