Dragon Quest Treasures is a welcome return to the world of Dragon Quest XI S, while not quite taking place in the familiar world of Erdrea. This time we follow baby-faced siblings Erik and Mia to explore the treasure-filled lands of Draconia, a place made up of the bodies of two great golden dragons. It is in the truest sense a 'dragon quest', but it’s not quite the traditional turn-based JRPG this time around. Instead, you’ll find yourself doing some treasure tracking, monster recruiting, and slingshotting.
You’ll find yourself switching between the shoes of Erik and Mia, and never quite both at the same time. Alongside you are the two flying creatures who enabled your escape on the Viking ship, Porcus and Purrsula. As per Dragon Quest’s pun-based monster naming tradition, one’s a flying pig while the other’s a flying cat. Armed with two mystical Dragon Daggers that help unlock the secrets of Draconia, the brother and sister duo set out in the search of vast riches.
One of the first areas you’ll be introduced to is Patternoggin, a rundown train station that will serve as your base. Here, you’re introduced to the monster recruitment system. Any monsters you fight out there in Draconia have a chance of wanting to join your party. Each monster also has its own Forte, an ability through which you can better traverse the lands. So you can jump to greater heights on a slime or soar through the sky with the help of a Dracky. There are also plenty of materials, items, and treasure chests strewn about the world, which makes exploring even more of a delight.
The monster friends you make along the way will help you find any treasure nearby with their Treasure Visions. You’ll be provided a series of pictures of the land to help you find the X on the map. I have to say that the ‘Treasures’ part of Dragon Quest Treasures has been my least favorite so far, given the fact that it’s not quite as smooth of a process as it could be.
Finding where ‘X’ is on the map through the Treasure Visions is essentially a game of ‘spot the difference’ except you’ll be expected to fight monsters at the same time. You can end up getting too carried away from the spot where you were looking for treasure and completely lose track of where you were meant to go. Later on, you’ll unlock the Fortune Finder on your dagger which is a much better tool to find treasure, as it works like a compass. Except for the fact that when you’re near the treasure Erik or Mia will not stop voicing the fact that there’s treasure nearby.
Yes, this game does have voice acting and while I’m pleased to see so in a spin-off game, I’m also having flashbacks to playing the Ocarina of Time and having a certain fairy yell into my ears every 5 seconds. Although, if the English voice acting isn’t quite your fancy, you can switch to Japanese at any point if you want to switch things up. And trust me, with the number of times you’re going to hear that there’s treasure nearby, you will want to.
Not Your Average Dragon Quest
Dragon Quest Treasures departs from the turn-based combat that we’re used to in the mainline and Monsters games. While this isn’t the first time the series has done so, it feels incredibly fresh and fun in this installment. Apart from traditional hack-and-slash combat, you also have a catapult with which you shoot enemies with pebbles and pellets. There are multiple types of pellets in the game, including healing pellets which you can use to heal your allies, mallet pellets which inflict minor impact damage and frizz bombs, which cause some major fire damage. You can even increase your chances of recruiting a monster by hitting them with a buddy bullet. What I would have liked though is use of the Switch’s motion controls to better control your aim, rather than having to use the joysticks and auto-targeting enemies.
There are other fun mechanics like pickpocketing and sneak attacks. You can use Erik and Mia’s thievery skills to steal an item from an unsuspecting enemy. If you fail to do so though, you’ll end up angering them and will have to fight a tougher battle. There’s also a gauge that fills up with every hit that you land. Once full, you can use it to either ‘Unleash the Dragon,’ which can be used to perform a special attack, or used to activate Erik or Mia’s ‘Wild Side,’ a familiar move to Dragon Quest XI’s veterans, which enhances either of the protagonist’s attack and speed.
The graphics for Dragon Quest Treasures are, well, without sugar coating it, not the prettiest, and while the new characters have fun design and definitely look Dragon Quest-y, the environments look like they’re from the PS3, and are lacking a ton in the textures department. It’s a shame considering how good Dragon Quest XI S looks on the Switch, and is arguably one of the best-looking games on the console. Some of the animations are also rather stiff, with little to no physics playing a role in the movement of their clothes and hair.
It’s no secret that Dragon Quest games have been reusing music from previous titles, making it so that there’s a lack of variety. But what’s a real bummer this time is that we’re stuck with the MIDI versions of the soundtrack, which can be pretty grating to the ears at times. I can only hope that a future update will include the orchestral soundtrack.
From what I’ve seen so far, Dragon Quest Treasures looks to be a pretty promising game. While it does have a few cons, the pros outweigh them by quite a bit. There’s a lot more to the game, both story and mechanics-wise, that’s left to be uncovered. Dragon Quest Treasures launches on December 9th for the Nintendo Switch.
TechRaptor previewed Dragon Quest Treasures on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by the publisher.