Review: Dragon Quest Heroes 2
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, PC
Handed my fresh copy of Dragon Quest Heroes 2, knowing nothing about the 30-year-old franchise I quickly realised that I had a lot of research to do. Having never played a Dragon Quest game or one of its spin-off titles, Omega Force’s Dragon Quest Heroes 2 was my first dive into the colourful yet non-threatening world of cute monsters, whom I might add, made me feel quite guilty about slaughtering countless Slimes and Platypunks. So, what is Dragon Quest Heroes 2 and how does it stack up against current hack-and-slash JRPGs?
Enter the colourful, yet not so peaceful magical world of Dragon Quest, littered with Slimes grinning from ear to ear, cute and cuddly monsters and comically easy to defeat living dead. Thinking to myself, “this art style looks familiar”, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the character design was led by the highly regarded and extremely talented manga artist Akira Toriyama, who is responsible for the creation of the successful Dragon Ball series. As an avid anime and manga fan, Toriyama’s approach to character design allows gamers new to the Dragon Quest franchise (like myself) to feel a sense of familiarity when coming to the game. Their sleek 3D character models would appeal to any gamer who is a fan of both gaming and anime alike. It’s also worth noting that even in the thick of battle, the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second.
Your adventure throughout Dragon Quest Heroes 2 takes you across the 7 realms, visiting stunning landscapes which include the wide-open windswept desert of The Grand Dunes to the spooky haunted forest of the Lumberlands, and more. Players will spend time buying and selling items within the regal city walls of Accordia which is host to amazing views of the sea and surrounding mountains. The detail in which Omega Force has put into creating a world full of wonder and intrigue has really been a highlight throughout my playthrough.
Dragon Quest Heroes 2 features an extensive line-up of 11 characters that have appeared in previous Dragon Quest titles and 4 new characters created solely for this title. Except for your main character, each of the other 14 others can be substituted in and out of your main battle party, this allows the player the ability to experiment and build a strong force full of warriors, mages and healers that complement each gamer’s unique style of play.
From the beginning of the game I was posed with a choice of whether to choose a male or a female lead, and in all honesty this choice has no effect on the story. Both characters have differing personalities, the male being a hot-headed smartass and the female being a skilled communicator and thoughtful tactician. Both have the same skill sets and appear in all the same cut scenes, never changing any dialogue between them, the only exception to this is the opening scene which quickly blends into the same narrative. I had hoped that the characters would have some sort of unique development or progression of their own, instead of simply following the same beats we’ve seen in countless JRPGS before, but it was not meant to be. I felt this was a missed opportunity from Omega Force, making each of the main characters so similar in their play styles, even having the ability to modify both of their classes became trivial as I soon realised I could build an equally strong team by using my main character and 3 of the 13 others that I gathered along the way. Dragon Quest Heroes 2, whilst exhibiting a wide range of characters with differing personalities disappointed me by making both possible leads so similar when they could have easily been different from each other.
Omega Force has come under fire of late, as their games have been seen to be formulaic and repetitive. I am pleased to say that Omega Force has learnt from the criticisms and delivered a game that offers gamers both the hack-and-slash of endless hordes of enemies expected for an Omega Force title and blended it smoothly with aspects of open-world RPGs we are familiar with today.
The game is split into two playable sections: Wild Zones and War Zones. Firstly, the War Zones are how you progress through the story fighting wave after wave of minions until reaching the boss at the end of the War Zone. These War Zones exhibit the same kind of hack-and-slash gameplay most would expect from a title from Omega Force. However, it is within the Wild Zones that Dragon Quest Heroes 2 breaks away from Omega Force’s norm – Wild Zones offer wide landscapes peppered with enemies of varied difficulty and it is within these Wild Zones that you can complete quests. Granted, most of these quests are kill a certain amount enemies in any given area; I found this to be a good change of pace where I could take my time and experience the beautiful environments they had created without the constant fear of losing a battle because I didn’t protect the king due to star-gazing or off looking at unique scenery.
When it comes to gameplay I found Dragon Quest Heroes 2 to have some hits and misses. The combat was rather basic and repetitive but the return of an upgraded monster medal system did help balance this. This system allows you to summon monsters to fight alongside you, but a new feature to this system is the ability to transform into select monsters. I found this to bring a new element to my game, and looked forward to the next time I could snatch a Knight Aberrant medal and transform in to a towering suit of armour crushing all foes who got in my way.
The game also displays a simple yet effective skill tree which worked on a levelling and skill point system which I found easy to use and straightforward unlike some modern RPGs. I found the HUD to again be simple and somewhat reminiscent of a Kingdom Hearts-style of HUD. I feel the best way to sum up the gameplay and features of Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is that it doesn’t strive to make things overly complicated. In fact, it tries to take games back to a time where gaming was engaging and simplistic.
Overall, I found Dragon Quest Heroes 2 to be a game that was fun for all gamers, but was strongly aimed at Dragon Quest fans. Omega Force’s attempt to blend their hack-and-slash style of gameplay with traditional RPG aspects made for a more exciting experience that gave it more longevity than their previous titles. Its story and gameplay are both engaging, though the story certainly could have attempted something more memorable, as opposed to rehashing the same JRPG tropes we’ve experienced before. At least the art direction is enjoyable, even if it is odd striking down some of the more particularly cute enemies.
|Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is an engaging and accessible hack-and-slash JRPG, though its story is ultimately lacking. If only Omega Force has been a little more ambitious, we would have a great game, and not just a good one.||3.9 3.9 ( on 5 rating)|