Capsule Review: Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below

A Musou game set in a crossover Dragon Quest world, featuring some original characters as well as some fan favorites from previous games. There’s a lot to like here for fans of Musou action and Dragon Quest flavor, though some pacing issues, an overreliance on defense/escort missions, and a complete lack of multiplayer hold the game back.

Several changes have been made to the standard Musou formula so that it’d be a real Dragon Quest game and not just a reskinned Dynasty Warriors. Some work well, such as Musou-gauge special attacks being replaced by Dragon Quest spells that are cast with MP. Some changes are more or less neutral, such as the playable cast being small for a game of this type but allowing more extensive and RPG-like skill trees, equipment options, and progression per character. Other changes disrupt the pacing, such as having the characters return to their camp (and later, airship) after every mission so you can talk to NPCs, buy new equipment, and allocate skill points.

There’s also a “monster medal” system which I assume is also largely adapted from the Dragon Quest series - monsters will drop medals which allow you to summon allied monsters to defend areas for you. It’s a little cumbersome in practice, and calls attention to the fact that you can’t direct your human NPC allies to defend specific areas - which is obnoxious because there are a lot of missions that involve point defense or NPC escorts. It’d be great to tell your allies to stay and defend while you go attack the monster spawners, but you can’t - you can only do this with monster medals. There’s no multiplayer of any sort, so you can’t work together to split these objectives between human players either. This greatly constrains the way you can play these missions, and not in a way that highlights the strengths of this sort of gameplay.

Presumably to increase accessibility to Dragon Quest fans who haven’t played a Musou game (or perhaps any action game), you can choose between “Quick” and “Slick” controls. Slick are the Musou standard where you must learn and apply specific combos; Quick abstracts away the combos so you don’t have to learn them. Mashing Square (on PlayStation) will automatically use attacks and combos that don’t use any special attacks, while mashing Triangle (still on PlayStation) will use attacks and combos that do involve special attacks. This is a great way to make the game more approachable and still provide a high skill ceiling.

I Stopped Playing When: After a few hours I was put off by the poor pacing of constantly returning to the dull camp and the frustrating escort missions.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.