One of the last big game releases of 2022 is Dragon Quest Treasures, a new Switch-exclusive spin-off of the Dragon Quest franchise. Does Square Enix end the year on a high with this one? We checked it out to find out.
Even though there’s usually a fair bit of time in between mainline Dragon Quest titles, there are plenty of spin-off games in the series – and they’ve been consistently good as well. The two Dragon Quest Heroes games were excellent, as were the two Dragon Quest Builders titles. Naturally, expectations for Dragon Quest Treasures were high as well – bringing a template of exploring and collecting to the franchise.
But just like Dragon Quest Builders didn’t go full Minecraft, Treasures doesn’t lean too heavily into the Pokémon formula – putting its own spin on things with plenty of references to other parts of the Dragon Quest universe. For example, you play as a young version of Erik from Dragon Quest XI, who along with his sister Mia is magically transported to the land of Draconia – a world filled with (often familiar) creatures and treasure.
Before long, you’ll be hunting for the latter, but not before you’re joined by some of the monsters that you’ll defeat and/or recruit. These don’t just add to your party’s strength in combat though – they also add perks when it comes to traversal, adding (for example) a glide or sprint capability or ways to locate treasure.
In addition to being on the road and exploring, you’ll also spend time building and improving your headquarters. Here, you can check out the spoils of your quests – and the more you acquire, the more your party level will grow. This is also where you can hire additional party members, or – down the line – send out “dispatch teams” to auto-resolve missions. As long as you’re able to assemble a strong team that matches the challenges in their assigned missions, this is a great way of quickly growing your treasure stash.
Also found in your headquarters are a craftsman (who can supply you with pellets that are useful in combat), a cafeteria for stat-boosting meals (you supply the ingredients) and an item shop, so it’s a pretty busy area that you’ll spend quite a bit of time in – you’re not just exploring the world map engaging in combat and hunting for treasure.
Driving the story forward is a narrative that’s fairly par for the course in the fantasy realm, talking about a collection of seven magic crystals that you’re after – though others would very much like to add those same crystals to their own trophy cabinet. Naturally, this becomes a vehicle for exploration, as you traverse the archipelago that makes up Draconia and visit its various islands. You don’t just have to walk though – you’ll gain access to a magic-infused train to help you with your bigger journeys, while traversing on foot gives you access to (side) quests and combat encounters.
That combat isn’t the strongest aspect of Dragon Quest Treasures though, and can feel like an obstacle on your way to more exploration and story progression. Battles happen in real time, here Erik and Mia use their Dragon Daggers for a basic attack combo while you use the aforementioned pellets with a slingshot to dish out elemental damage and heal/boost your monster buddies. It feels a bit cumbersome and restrictive, and maybe it’s just that we weren’t very good at it (despite doing well against most enemies) but it never felt like it flowed as well as the rest of the game does.
It’s really the only major gripe we have for this one though, as with its charming presentation and characters Dragon Quest Treasures is a joy to play. The voice acting and music are top notch, even though the visual quality could have been a little higher (but we’ll chalk that one up to this being a Switch title). At the end of the day, this is another very worthwhile Dragon Quest spin-off that franchise fans will want to have a go with.