Dragon Quest Treasures Review – A treasure trove of potential

Dragon Quest Treasures Review on Nintendo Switch

As I finished my time on Dragon Quest Treasures, a strange feeling came over me. Certainly the game was undeniably a Dragon Quest title in its style and is clearly aimed at fans of the series. Positioned as a prequel to Dragon Quest XI, it uses nearly every established element from the actual series, including its monster designs, musical styles, and more.

And yet, while I’ve played and loved almost every traditional Dragon Quest title released in the past two decades, I couldn’t help but see potential in what this latest spin-off title brought to the table. Gone was the straight-forward turn-based JRPG framework, replaced by mechanics chosen from a half-dozen other genres to create something almost entirely alien to the series. And honestly, I was glad to see a title in the series that attempts this, spinoff or not.

At its core, that’s the whole conceit of Dragon Quest Treasures. While it may lean heavily from the broader Dragon Quest series, it dives into new genres galore and tries to see what can be used to help push the series forward. While this doesn’t always work perfectly, it does offer a lot of new opportunities and opportunities for the series to progress in really exciting ways.

Dragon Quest Treasures Review - A treasure trove of potential
Screenshot of Twinfinite via Square Enix

As mentioned above, this is not how the game presents itself at first glance. The story is initially set as a straightforward prequel to Erik and his sister Mia from Dragon Quest XI, set during their time as captives in a Viking crew. One night, the two rescue a pair of flying and glowing beasts from said Vikings and follow them to a secluded temple with two magical daggers.

After taking a dagger each, the siblings are transported to the Isles of Draconia. There, they learn that there is a nearly infinite amount of treasure to be found on the islands, with the greatest loot being seven stones, which are of great importance to the animals they have rescued. Adventurous, the duo set out on Draconia to amass a fortune in treasure, enlist the help of allies, and track down the seven stones for the strange creatures that brought them there.

It’s a somewhat simple story, but it serves its purpose of giving players a reason to engage with the world and its characters. And really, that’s what Dragon Quest Treasures focuses on the most.

As Erik or Mia, players must set off and collect treasures from the game’s world, exploring and investigating every nook and cranny along the way. However, how players can do this is a bit more diverse than simply going from point A to point B. In addition to sniffing out the location of valuable treasures through the use of a Treasure Sense ability, players must also utilize the abilities of other monsters, which can jump, fly, dig, and otherwise smash their way through different parts of each area’s terrain.

Dragon Quest Treasures Review - A treasure trove of potential
Screenshot of Twinfinite via Square Enix

These monsters are recruited by defeating them in battles, which is done through an active combat system. Players can seek out and fight any enemies in the overworld by attacking them with simple combos and projectiles in real time without any kind of transition or cutaway. This also has the benefit of leveling up the player’s character along with any monsters they’ve already recruited, improving everyone’s attack while unlocking new moves and spells that said monsters can use in battle.

They can then return to a base of operations where they can actively choose which monsters to add to their party. Once there, you can also send monsters that aren’t currently in their party in search of treasure, display the best treasure they’ve found for all to see, and even go on treasure expeditions with other players via online multiplayer modes.

If that sounds like a lot of gameplay mechanics to be mixed together all at once, it’s because there definitely are. Although Dragon Quest Treasures spends a lot of time guiding the player through everything it has to offer, there are still many that will slip through the cracks or prove unnecessary in a standard playthrough.

Likewise, the game doesn’t always have a clear focus as it tries to do so much at once. While there is one main quest to follow, the sheer volume of different tasks to take on can be overwhelming. Almost immediately, players are inundated with potential quests to complete, and there’s very little information on how completing these quests will be useful in the long run.

I spent most of my first 12 hours playing the game just understanding what I had to do and what was optional. Even at the end of that stretch, I still wasn’t sure if I was taking advantage of everything the game had to offer, rather than directing my playthrough toward story completion.

Dragon Quest Treasures Review - A treasure trove of potential
Screenshot of Twinfinite via Square Enix

And yet, despite these factors, overall Dragon Quest Treasures was a very enjoyable experience. I had a great time wandering through the different areas of the game world and combing every inch of each area to find different treasures. I loved fighting and recruiting every possible monster I saw and putting them on the field to gain access to new areas I couldn’t reach before.

Adding to this fact is the game’s presentation, which is at the level one would expect from a Dragon Quest title at this point. In terms of graphics, the art direction is an imaginative mix of uplifting and cartoonish designs with fantasy norms.

The series’ signature monsters emerge with an enchanting yet intimidating energy, while the more human characters stand out thanks to Akira Toriyama’s signature art style. The environments and landscapes are a little less distinctive, but still serve their purpose as parts of a larger fantasy world.

On the sound design side, it’s pretty straightforward too. There are the usual rousing orchestral themes that almost every Dragon Quest title offers, as well as a slew of iconic sound effects and musical stings associated with things like level-ups, attacks, and triggered spells. There is voice acting for key scenes and the occasional character catchphrase, but this feature is otherwise used fairly sparingly.

Dragon Quest Treasures isn’t a perfect experience, but overall it’s fun and enjoyable. The new ideas and mechanics it marries with the hallmarks of the Dragon Quest series are solid and could prove pivotal in the direction of the series, both in mainline games and what will hopefully be a strong new spinoff series for those to come Years. As long as you’re willing to endure the rough introduction, there’s little doubt you’ll find a game worth the patience.

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

Dragon Quest Treasures review

Reviewer: Keenan McCall | Forgive: The Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by the publisher.

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