Dragon Quest Treasures
December 9, 2022
Square Enix, Tose Software
The Dragon Quest franchise has a very strong history with spin-offs, with spin-off series like Dragon Quest Monsters and Dragon Quest Builders being almost as compelling as the main entries in the series. Really, it’s hard to think of a game with the name Dragon Quest attached that was less than very good. Given that history, there’s definitely reason to be excited about Dragon Quest Treasures, the new Switch-exclusive installment of the slime-loving series.
With the next core entry in the franchise likely not arriving for some time, can Dragon Quest Treasures win over hungry fans? Or is this a rare piece of foolish Dragon’s Quest gold? It’s time to dig deeper into this treasure chest.
Dragon Quest Treasures serves as a kind of prequel to Dragon Quest XI, though don’t expect any particularly meaningful connections between the two. Treasures appears to players as child versions of DQ11’s supporting character, Eric and his sister Mia, who live on an unnamed Viking ship as the game begins. One night, you are visited by a magical pig and cat, named respectively Porcus and Purrsula, and whisked away to the treasure-filled land of Draconia. You’ll quickly start your own treasure-hunting gang, and your new magical animal friends task you with collecting the seven Dragon Stones, which will somehow lead you to the “Hoard of Treasures”. Of course, you’ll make yourself a few bucks along the way.
In terms of gameplay, Dragon Quest Treasures is pretty much what it says on the box – it’s a Dragon Quest action RPG about finding and storing shiny objects. Early on, you set up headquarters in a crumbling castle. From there, you can seek riches on one of five different islands. The “treasures” you find come in different forms – money, items, and crafting materials are dropped by enemies or found in base chests scattered around each area, but finding more valuable items is a bit more complicated.
Monsters in your collection will discover Silver Chests as you explore, marked with a glowing beacon so you can dig them up, while the extra valuable Gold Chests require more dedicated detective work. Your “Treasure Tracker” compass will point you in the correct general direction so that when you get close enough, your monsters will display “Treasure Visions,” a series of images from different perspectives that show exactly where the chest is located. Find the exact location of the treasure and it will light up so you can dig it up. However, you are not in the clear, as the Silver and Gold treasures must be returned to your HQ to be appraised. Rival gangs can attack and rob you before you can get home, but collecting a large amount of treasure in one round will net you a big reward, so there’s a good risk-reward system in place.
A good distance return provides a satisfying dopamine hit as every treasure is revealed and valued. Inflation seems to be running wild in Draconia, you get tons of cash for just about everything you bring in, most gold hoards are worth millions, and the appraisal process is full of fanfare, pettiness, and coins raining. As you accumulate ever greater treasure, your gang level up, providing rewards, new shops, improvements to your headquarters, and the ability to advance in the game’s story. In the end, your gang’s castle hideout will be decorated with heaps of valuables that will make Uncle Scrooge blush.
Unfortunately, while the core mechanics and gameplay loop of Dragon Quest Treasures are satisfactory, almost every aspect of the game feels underdeveloped in some way. The combat is very simple, as your three buddies fight the monsters pretty much independently as you can only issue very simple commands. Sure, monsters do a good job, but they can also make stupid decisions or leave you up and dry if you get stuck somewhere and can’t get to battle. While you can deal some melee damage to enemies, you mostly play support, using a slingshot and a variety of pellets to attack enemies from afar or heal and buff your allies. You can also revive fallen monsters and choose when to launch certain special attacks.
Combat works well enough, but it’s not particularly challenging and suffers from a lack of monster variety. The game’s five islands feature largely the same assortment of enemies, just different color-coding. This also undercuts the Pokemon-style monster-collecting game — yes, technically there are dozens of different creatures to recruit into your gang, but since so many of them are replicas, it’s hard to get too excited about any of them. Personally, I found a team I liked relatively early on and just leveled it up, only collecting new monsters occasionally or when a mission specifically called for it.
Dragon Quest Monsters’ offering doesn’t exactly scream hard work, either. The visuals are simple, with low-detail character models and environments, and even then, performance falters in large open areas. Of course, the classic Dragon Quest tunes are as unassuming as ever, but the slow, ever-repeating soundtracks will have you quickly looking up the soundtrack.
Ultimately, Dragon Quest Treasures’ biggest problem area is in its title. While treasure hunts in general work well, they are not specific to any one place; Treasures are restocked and their locations are randomized each time you return to the island. While the probability of finding certain types of treasure changes each time you visit an area, there’s nothing stopping you from picking a few favorite small areas and searching for them over and over again. There are collectible maps that will lead you through brief dungeon combat with a reward at the end, but a very small percentage of your treasures are gained this way. Why challenge yourself to explore further afield when you could potentially find an iconic treasure near the train station you arrived at? This game never gives you a good reason.
Dragon Quest Treasures’ reluctance to push you out of your comfort zone is a shame because its maps are all so well designed, and the core story of the game, which Do Having you track down dragon stones in specific places and ways, is actually quite convincing. You’ll find yourself climbing a mountain to find an undead merchant, picking up a Dragonstone from an angry ogre, and more. The campaign offers some surprisingly epic moments, including some good (if somewhat repetitive) boss fights. These bits of DQ Treasures provide a hint of what the game might have been like had the developers been more committed to bringing their ideas to life.
But hey, if all you need is the simple satisfaction of opening endless chests, Dragon Quest Treasures should keep you occupied. You can finish the game’s story in 20-25 hours, but there are challenges to follow after that, and really, there’s nothing stopping you from spending as many hours building your inventory as you like. Ironically, when playing Dragon Quest Treasures, time is not money.
This review was based on a copy of Dragon Quest Treasures provided by publisher Square Enix.
Products mentioned in this post
Dragon Quest Treasures offers plenty of magic, solid core mechanics, and a certain slot machine-style appeal, but luck favors the bold, and the game falls short in a number of ways. Unglamorous visuals, simplistic combat, and the ultimate repetitive feeling of a treasure hunt limit the experience. Younger gamers and die-hard fans of the franchise may still covet Dragon Quest Treasures, but the game could really have shined with a little more polish.
- The world of Dragon Quest is more magical than ever
- Cash out the treasure in a basic way
- The main story campaign is compelling
- The maps are well designed
- Lots of things to do
- The treasure hunt is repeated
- The combat doesn’t have much depth
- Simple visuals and questionable performance
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