We review Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below – an impossibly long title that could have also been called Dragon Quest Warriors. Just to make things easier for us…
Dragon Quest Heroes isn’t the next true sequel in the acclaimed and long-running Dragon Quest franchise. For that, you’ll have to wait until next year. Instead, Dragon Quest Heroes is a hack ‘n slash game developed by Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force. The end result of this hybrid is a game that feels more like a mindless beat ’em up at times than it feels like an RPG.
That’s not to say that this is a carbon copy of the Dynasty Warriors games with a different name slapped onto it. The art style and overall look and feel are very much in line with the last few Dragon Quest games, and the animations are much more cartoon-like than what you’d expect from an Omega Force title. And instead of blindly focusing on combat, there is also a fair share of RPG and storyline development to be found here – though it’s very much on the “light” or “casual” end of the spectrum.
In The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, an evil wizard suddenly turns the world’s creatures against you, and it’s up to you to slay them. What’s a little discomforting is that in a lot of cases, these creatures still look cute and are fairly defenseless. This is completely in sync (style-wise) with what fans expect from the Dragon Quest series, but it feels a bit awkward in the sense of a hack ‘n slasher where you mow countless numbers of these creatures down.
Still, the combat dynamic is vintage Omega Force – it’s all very smooth and the action flows freely as you take down enemy after enemy with your group of four heroes. The combat is actually a bit simpler than on Omega Force’s other titles, as mindless button mashing tends to work just fine for most of the battles and tactics don’t come into play until much later in the game.
The tactical element you’ll find later in the game is mainly due to your enemies growing stronger and becoming harder to take down. In order to tackle these challenges, you’ll need to rely on your special attacks – which you can charge by taking down other (less powerful) enemies. It’s still fairly straightforward, but it requires you to divide your attention between the various enemies that can be found in the surrounding area and the big boss character itself.
RPG elements also pop up from time to time in the story, for instance when you are given the opportunity to swap out one of your team members. Getting rid of a long distance fighter like an archer in favor of a brawler might seem like it would have a big impact, but Dragon Quest Heroes’ simplified combat dynamics do a lot to downplay this impact. The same can probably be said of the game’s skill tree, because any changes you do there aren’t quite as impactful either.
It’s hard to pinpoint the optimal target audience for this game. It’s nowhere near as deep as a traditional Dragon Quest game, which may disappoint fans of the series – but at the same time it’s a fun to play brawler that is soaked in Dragon Quest lore and artwork. For fans of the Dynasty Warriors franchise this is probably not the combat experience they crave, but if they happen to also enjoy Dragon Quest then they’ll be delighted with this spin-off. It looks great, it’s a great way to spend dozens of hours, so if you have any interest in either Dragon Quest or Dynasty Warriors then you might want to check this out despite its lack of real gameplay depth.