It’s been almost four years since the West has seen the release of a new Dragon Quest game. While Dragon Quest XII and Dragon Quest III HD-2D are in the works, it’s likely going to be a while before their release. And so, the release of Dragon Quest Treasures is one that I anticipated eagerly ever since it was announced during the series’ 35th-anniversary Livestream.
This spin-off starring Dragon Quest XI’s best boy (apart from Sylvando, of course), Erik, and his younger sister Mia, is quite loosely related to the mainline game, so even a complete Dragon Quest newcomer would be able to pick it up and play. That being said, the game plays nothing like the traditional JRPG approach that’s usually there, so if the turn-based combat’s been steering you away from the series, Dragon Quest Treasures serves as a good entry point.
The (Treasure) Hunt Is On
We start our journey aboard a Viking ship, where pint-sized Erik and Mia are planning their escape in order to go on an adventure to find treasure of their own. To assist them in fleeing are Purrsula and Porcus, a flying cat and flying pig who lead them to find two mystical weapons known as the Dragon Daggers. The daggers teleport the quartet to the land Draconia, whose treasure-filled lands are now for Erik and Mia to loot.
A lot ends up happening in the first couple of hours of Dragon Quest Treasures. You become rivals with a pirate gang, restore a train station, and befriend two slimes, Oozabella and Goonther, who join your party. Yes, trademark of the Dragon Quest games, the puns are bountiful. There’s a lot you’ll be introduced to in the initial 5-10 hours of the game, so there’s plenty to enjoy, but as I progressed beyond that 10-hour mark, my excitement began to wane.
I was pretty excited about the new combat system in Dragon Quest Treasures. It takes a page from Dragon Quest Builders and goes the hack-and-slash combat route and adds a bit more flair with the catapult, which is really just a slingshot. I’m not sure why they called it a catapult, but there are plenty of pebbles, pellets, and projectiles which you can either find through chests and pots, or you can craft some pellets of your own.
Most of them are watered-down versions of the usual Dragon Quest spells, such as the Zap or Sizz pellets which inflict elemental damage on enemies, but some of them come in handy elsewhere. For example, the Buddy pellets help raise your chances of being able to recruit a monster (more on that later) after you defeat them. There are even healing and mana pellets. Since long-range weapons are more my style, and because I just like the idea of throwing rocks at your enemies, I made very good use of the catapult.
There are a few other cool mechanics, such as pinching, through which you can steal an item off of an enemy provided you get the timing right. If you don’t pull it off successfully though, you can end up angering them. There’s also the Dagger Gauge, which fills up with every hit you land on an enemy. Once it’s full you can use it to land a special attack with one of the monsters in your party, or unleash Erik or Mia’s “Wild Side,” a state where your speed and power are enhanced.
Things to Dig and Not to Dig
Right now you might be wondering, “Erik or Mia? Aren’t they supposed to be adventuring side-by-side?” I, too, thought the same thing, but no, you can only control one sibling at a time, while the other stays back and does their own thing. While it’s nice to be able to select between the two, there isn’t really a unique aspect that they have that would lead you to want to switch between characters. Even their level of experience is the exact same as the other. It definitely feels like a missed opportunity to do something more with the duo.
Speaking of missed opportunities, while the departure from turn-based combat is a welcome change, the hack-and-slash combat is extremely barebones. You can’t do anything like dash or jump attacks, and all you can really do is mash the Y-button and occasionally dodge. Luckily, and also unluckily, your other party members will go fight on their own, but they will also go and fight every single enemy they come across, regardless of their level. If they end up taking a major hit, they might lose what treasure they were carrying and you’ll have to go back and pick it up again, and if they die you’ll have to go back and revive them or go to the nearest campfire.
And here’s where I talk about Fortes, special abilities that all monsters will have to help you traverse the land. There’s gliding, sprinting, launching, and more. Each monster only has one forte though, and each of these has a stamina bar, but what’s worse is that they also have a cooldown timer. Even if you don’t end up using the Forte for the entire duration of the stamina bar, the cooldown will be the same amount every time.
There are a lot of these sorts of inconveniences in the game that might not seem like much, but end up really testing your patience. Another example is the travel system in Dragon Quest Treasures. You’re meant to help restore the various train stations throughout Draconia, and that’s how you can travel from one area to another quickly. You can use a Chimaera wing to help you get back to base with all your treasure in tow, but there’s no other way of fast traveling. There’s also a limited amount of treasure that you can carry at a time, so this means you have to travel back, drop all your treasure, and then set out again. After a while, it gets pretty repetitive and grindy, and you’ll really begin to wish for some quality-of-life features.
For a game about treasure tracking, it seems pretty essential to be able to put down markers on your, whether that's to mark a chest to come back to later or avoid a certain area because of the high-level enemies. Oddly enough, there's no such thing, and there are only markers on the map for quests that you've come across.
Coming back to the monsters, in Dragon Quest Treasures your party is made up entirely of monsters, and you can choose who you want to recruit. Each and every monster has varying stats, spells they can use, and interests in treasure. It’s a robust system that encourages you to mix-and-match, as your party line-up can affect what kind of treasure you’ll find according to the treasure forecast. Eventually, you can even send out teams of monsters to go treasure hunting on their own.
X (Almost) Marks the Spot
Of course, I haven’t really talked about the actual “Treasures” part of Dragon Quest Treasures in-depth yet. Draconia is a land filled with vast riches, including the seven legendary Dragonstones. So, apart from searching for tons of treasure, you’re helping Purrsula and Porcus find these stones. There are several different types of chests you can find, and your party of monsters can help you find most of them with their ‘treasure vision.’ Once you get close enough to a piece of treasure, you’ll be able to use their treasure vision to locate where it is.
Now, Dragon Quest Treasures isn’t the prettiest-looking game out there. When you compare it to the last Dragon Quest game on the Switch, Dragon Quest Builders 2, it looks like a PS3 game. The textures are low-res and the environments are pretty sparse. So, when you look at the visions that your monsters are having, they aren’t exactly helping you out a ton. Especially if it’s a Dracky that’s colorblind, or a Hatwitch whose vision is obscured by their cap. Most of the time I just ended up using the dagger’s compass for treasure or just ended up winging it and keeping an ear out for the sound of treasure.
Unlike the sound of treasure though, the soundtrack isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing to listen to. There’s a lack of original music in this game, and since the Dragon Quest games have a repertoire for reusing music I would be ok with it if it were at least the orchestral version, but the MIDI version can really get grating at times.
That being said, there’s still a lot to look forward to in this game. Getting my treasure appraised was always exciting, and I could feel my dopamine levels rise the higher the value would go. It’s also a nice touch to have a lot of them be items and statues of characters from older Dragon Quest games. There are six different areas to explore with each of them being their own sort of open-world, much like Pokemon Legends Arceus. I enjoyed collecting ingredients and recipes to create new dishes to feed to my monster buddies, and finding all the hidden nooks and crannies for treasure was pretty satisfying.
There’s also online play where you can set up treasure hunts for other players and go on hunts made by them. You aren’t using the actual treasure that’s in your vault for online play, but a replica instead. Dragon Quest Treasures is also now one of the handful of games that don’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to access its online features.
Dragon Quest Treasures | Final Thoughts
Dragon Quest Treasures is far from a perfect game, but it’s great for scratching that itch for Dragon Quest. There’s no dearth of content in this game, and you’ll easily get a good 30-40 hours or so out of the game. It’s a cute game with some fun mechanics but not the best execution. If laidback treasure-collecting and monster-recruiting are what you’re looking for, then Dragon Quest Treasures is your best bet.
TechRaptor reviewed Dragon Quest Treasures on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Treasure collection provides a good gameplay loop
- Monster recruitment system is robust
- No turn-based combat, making it a good entrypoint for newcomers
- Melee combat lacks variety
- Lack of quality-of-life features
- Visuals and soundtrack are lackluster