Why are so many video game characters orphans? Is that in some kind of contract that they get? If so, that’s a bit depressing, but continuing in that time-honored tradition, Dragon Quest Treasures follows young whippersnappers and orphans Erik and Mia, on a fantastic adventure, which I was able to demo this weekend at New York Comic Con.
Dragon Quest Treasures serves as a prologue to main series entry Dragon Quest XI, following central party member Erik and his sister Mia when they were children. When the story starts they are basically living as indentured servants to Viking pirates, until they sneak off the ship in a lifeboat with the flying cat and pig, Purrsula and Porcus, respectively. The rest of the demo covers Mia searching to meet up with Erik, traversing the mysterious island they’ve both washed up on. Gameplay wise, it covers an introduction to the turn-based combat of the game and gives a good feel for the vibe of the game as a whole.
Going into this demo as someone who has played the first two Dragon Quest games and none of the following ones, including Dragon Quest XI, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect other than updated graphics since 1986. Dragon Quest Treasures keeps the same fun, fantasy aesthetic and feel that I remember, with some cheesy jokes and instantly likable characters. It’s approachable even if you’re jumping in with a clean slate, though now it has made me want to go play Dragon Quest XI to see more of Erik and Mia.
The glimpse of the main story that we saw, aside from the central draw of “treasure hunting!” was the two siblings going on a quest for the legendary Dragonstones, meeting some enigmatic antagonists along the way. It was a promising start to a plot, and I was relieved that the story wasn’t just going to be following the two after valuable treasure, as the Dragonstones are hinted to be more than just pretty and expensive.
Combat follows the usual action RPG style of games like Kingdom Hearts, with Erik or Mia using their weapons to attack the enemies and your allied slimes and other monsters acting of their own accord. While I did only play the basic tutorial combat, it was easy enough to get the hang of and the instructions were straightforward and clear. Using monsters like Oozabella the Slime as allies was fun, and the fact that the characters can also use their allies to detect treasure is even better.
Speaking of the treasure detection ability, that was something I wished was showcased more in the demo. Using the powers of the daggers and their monster allies, Erik and Mia can get “visions” of treasure locations, basically brief pop-ups with a screenshot of a place in the world, and then you’re left to search for it to find the treasure, a bit like when a friend texts you a picture of their location at a con and says “Come find me.” The mechanic was simple, but I would love to know about more complex uses for it, possibly with collectible hunts or searching for more legendary treasures that aren’t tied to story progression.
Monster allies also have abilities that you can use outside of battle, like Oozabella being used as a squishy pogo stick to bounce around on and reach new areas. Using Drackys to fly from place to place was also teased, but, unfortunately, I was unable to befriend any of them just yet. It was a fun mechanic, however, and tying the abilities to actual characters rather than level-ups or new spells that you gain was a lot more unusual and drew me to the characters even more. There’s something special about putting your compatriots through borderline abuse by literally slamming them into the ground in order to get to a higher ledge that you just don’t get with High Jump.
Overall, I had a blast previewing Dragon Quest Treasures. It was accessible for those not familiar with more recent entries in the series, with likable protagonists and interesting mechanics that I can’t wait to see how they’re built on. Fortunately, there are less than two months to go until the game’s release on December 9th!
TechRaptor previewed Dragon Quest Treasures on Nintendo Switch with the developers at New York Comic Con. It will be launching for Nintendo Switch on December 9, 2022.