Dragon Quest Treasures Review – A boring treasure trove
Many JRPGs have slow openings and take time to establish the story and familiarize the player with the mechanics before unleashing them into the world. That’s what I thought to myself after playing Dragon Quest Treasures for an hour, so I said to myself, “This is going to be good!” I said it two hours later, three hours later, and then five hours later, until finally I was forced to accept that this was the best the game was going to get. Dragon Quest Treasures never lacks charm or style, but simple, subpar combat and loot-hunting mechanics had me scratching the bottom of the treasure chest hoping I’d missed something.
Dragon Quest XI players will recognize the protagonists Mia and Erik even though they are much younger in this game. Dragon Quest Treasures is technically a prequel to XI, but there’s very little overlap, and the vast majority takes place after the twins jump through a portal into the mysterious world of Draconia. After finding their bearings and making some friends, they form a treasure hunting gang and resolve to find all seven Dragonstones, magical relics from Draconia’s origins. While the beginning of the game is story-heavy, most of my 25 hours of play were self-paced, which I appreciated. The plot isn’t particularly interesting or engaging, but I didn’t have to be; It is mainly a vehicle to get the player exploring the surrounding islands.
The bulk of Dragon Quest Treasures involves exploring open-world islands looking for valuables buried in glowing spots on the ground. Mia and Erik track it down by using magical dragon daggers to see “Treasure Visions,” glimpses of the landscape near the burial site seen through the eyes of the monsters in your party. You can use these images to triangulate the location of the buried chest and claim it as your own. It’s not a terrible mechanic, but it’s not complex or engaging enough to build the whole game around. I’ve also encountered multiple instances of items spawning in the same areas when revisiting an island, suggesting that there is a limited amount of treasure locations to find.
Once you’ve collected as many valuables as possible, your goal is to get back to the base unharmed. Treasure storage capacity is limited, and you drop your current loot when you die. There is also no fast travel. You can use a button in the menu to return home, but doing so will result in you dropping all your riches and effectively voiding your expedition. You can fast travel without dropping anything when using a Chimera Wing, but they’re rare, expendable resources that I’ve saved for emergencies. These mechanics are all intentionally impractical, but they bothered me more in theory than in practice. I rarely died on the field, and I only had to use a Chimera Wing two or three times when I finished the game.
Once you return to your hideout and examine your loot, a beautiful rendering of a character or item from previous Dragon Quest titles reveals itself. While I didn’t recognize many of the items I found, I really appreciated this detail and I’m sure the nostalgia for the series would greatly enhance the experience. And as much as I wasn’t really interested in the mechanics of treasure sighting, I can’t deny the satisfaction I felt when I returned to base with a full inventory and discovered an iconic, expensive relic to add to my hoard.
When you’re not on a treasure hunt, you’re fighting enemy monsters. Most Dragon Quest games are turn-based, but Dragon Quest Treasures uses seamless in-world action combat. Unfortunately, combat is limited and clunky; The attacks at your disposal feel uncomfortable and often caused me to take damage or miss shots. For example, Mia and Erik can attack with their daggers and dodge enemy attacks, but movement in combat is sluggish and sluggish. Dodge roll is helpful when observing an enemy attack from afar, but since roll doesn’t interrupt dagger attacks, I didn’t have time to dodge when I was close and dealing melee damage. This taught me to avoid the dagger in the most dangerous situations.
The other weapon you can use is a slingshot loaded with various elemental pellets, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either. Up close, everyone is moving too fast to fire off a shot, and while the reticle is capable of targeting enemies, it’s finicky and I often had to fight the controls to line up shots. Still, the slingshot is the only way a player can deal elemental damage, so ignoring it is not advisable. Once I had the money to consistently buy pellets, I had to hold back and use my slingshot in most fights while the rest of my team fought at close range.
The team in question consists of three monsters that automatically fight enemies. Aside from attack or retreat orders, you have no control over what they do or where they go. That’s okay though: it gives each monster a sense of personality, and while I wasn’t in control, I was able to predict their behavior fairly reliably. For example, my silver saber cat Blanco had a powerful movement that made him dart towards the enemy, but my red dragon Bernie liked to stay behind and use magic. They can build a team around their combat roles, but I’ve typically chosen mine based on their Forte Abilities: traversal techniques specific to each monster type. Blanco was a support because he could sprint, which I otherwise couldn’t. I also liked having a monster that could slide in case I wanted to jump from a high point without taking fall damage.
Whenever you defeat a monster, there’s a chance you’ll scout it out and make it available for recruitment. To add them to your team you just have to pay a fee for items and food that you can find in the world. If you don’t have the right items, you can view the list to narrow your search, but it’s never more specific than one of the five massive islands. This limited my group choices surprisingly much, and I went the entire game without finding enough resources to recruit specific monsters. I’m sure I could have found more resources if I’d taken the time to do a few trips with that specific goal, but I didn’t have any trouble in combat so it didn’t feel worth it.
The whole reason you’re recruiting monsters and looking for valuables in the first place is to complete Dragon Quest Treasures’ main objective: finding the seven dragon stones. I mistakenly assumed they were hidden behind boss fights or in dungeons, so it took me a long time to get my hands on the first one. I thought I needed a high-level team to compete with the powerful monsters that roamed near the objective marker, but that was completely wrong. In fact, with some early Dragonstones, all you have to do is run past the enemies and then complete an easy objective, or just grab the relic and leave. The stones themselves don’t even take up a treasure slot in your inventory, so you can use the menu to return to base without worrying about dropping them. You don’t have to think of an escape route. Unfortunately, the game isn’t clear about this and I’ve spent a lot of time on unnecessary grinding.
It’s this accumulation of small annoyances that makes Dragon Quest Treasures difficult to recommend. The experience is driven by charm and nostalgia, but if you don’t already appreciate the series, there’s not much here that I would recommend over most other open-world RPGs. It’s an experience that would vary greatly depending on the player; In other words, one player’s Dragon Quest junk is another player’s Dragon Quest treasure.
https://www.gameinformer.com/review/dragon-quest-treasures/a-tedious-trove Dragon Quest Treasures Review – A boring treasure trove