Swag. Few words in games have so much power. The promise of sick loot is a siren song that has led many players to take on bold challenges and reconsider their goals… as well as make exceptionally poor judgments and even open their real-life wallets. Many games, regardless of era and platform, are fundamentally about the satisfaction of loot, but few will admit it. Dragon Quest Treasures is the rare game that adamantly states that accumulating a treasure trove of legendary loot is the whole point, and if you can put up with some of its gameplay and technical weaknesses, you might as well experience the satisfaction of owning a Scrooge McDuck-like. gold vault (but not the experience of swimming in it).
Dragon Quest Treasures tells the story of young Erik and Mia, who were first introduced in Dragon Quest XI. Dissatisfied after being adopted by Viking raiders and party animals, the duo decide to escape the ship and strike out on their own to become great treasure hunters. Along the way, they unleash a duo of strange winged creatures and encounter Dragon Daggers, enchanted weapons that transport them to the realm of Draconia, where treasure hunting is a way of life. Somewhere on these floating islands lie the legendary Dragonstone artifacts, and Erik and Mia will obtain them all, along with an absurd number of mythical relics waiting to be unearthed.
Unlike the main Dragon Quest series, which is turn based and menu based, Dragon Quest Treasures is an action RPG. Playing as either Erik or Mia (who are functionally identical), you explore one of several large open-world islands, defeat enemies, complete quests, gather materials, and most importantly, discover those sweet, shiny chests of gold and silver. . The more treasure they find, the more notoriety they gain, and the more their base, initially a decrepit magical railway station, turns into a fabulously flashy headquarters. This also opens up more gameplay elements, as well as revealing clues to the location of the elusive Dragonstones. While you are free to explore the game at your own pace, some parts are locked based on how much loot you have accumulated.
Draconia is not a tiny territory either. The areas you can go to are surprisingly large and full of distinct geographical features, containing only a few unlockable fast travel points in the form of railway stations. The treasures that appear each time you visit an area are random, encouraging you to revisit well-traveled territories and venture into new places. With your restricted loot-carrying ability and high-level enemies limiting your scouting ability, it usually takes several tries before you manage to fully probe an entire region. The size of these areas is impressive, and the game runs at 30fps most of the time, but it comes at a cost: the geometry of the environments tends to look extremely simplistic, and the textures are visibly pixelated and muddy.
Erik and Mia are at a disadvantage, as they don’t have the sixth sense for locating treasure that the native draconians have. Fortunately, they can ask the locals for help. As your new gang of treasure hunters gains strength, the monsters they encounter apply for membership and can be recruited as NPC party members. Your recruited monsters are very important: they fight alongside you in combat, help you navigate the environment using special “strong” abilities (such as dashing, high jumping, and burrowing underground), and most importantly, they can alert you to their presence. . Erik/Mia have limited use of a compass to find an approximate location of high-level treasure, but when you’re really close to the prize, monsters can give you “Treasure Visions” of the exact location. (However, a monster’s sight isn’t quite the same as a humans’, so things can still look quite strange – for example, a monster’s sight with a muddy hand appears to have a sticky film sprayed on it , while living armor can only see through their helmet vents.) They can also find exact locations of mid-level treasures as you roam, though since treasure-carrying capacity is limited, you may choose to skip those. silver chests in favor of gold generally of higher value. Later in the game, you’ll also have to fend off rival gangs that attack mid-exploration to steal your hard-earned goods.
The gradual exploration of large and varied environments and your ever-growing vault of valuables makes for a very enjoyable gameplay loop. It’s gratifying to see your HQ grow and expand, as your monster ranks swell with high-level recruits, and your display case fill with some of the most legendary items from the Dragon Quest series. The allure is further enhanced by the warm and welcoming atmosphere that pervades the entire Dragon Quest franchise, including a locale brimming with snappy dialogue and deliciously moan-worthy puns. Dragon Quest Treasures just feels right to play.
Unfortunately, one in-game element does its best to spoil the mood. Combat is easily the worst part of Dragon Quest Treasures, and it’s an unavoidable part of exploration and progression. You and your CPU-controlled monsters take part in battles, which take place in real time on the world map. Erik and Mia are armed with their Dragon Daggers, which offer only a basic attack combo chain. While they do have a pool of MP, their magic is only used to heal themselves. Instead, the special attacks come in the form of a long-range slingshot, which you can load ammo into (in the form of buckshot) and shoot. Pellets are the only way you can access different forms of elemental damage, and trying to fumble your way through the pellet menu to find that rock that will hit an enemy’s weakness is a hassle. To make matters worse, you also heal and upgrade your monsters via special pellets. Trying to aim a bunch of rocks at your constantly moving monsters in the middle of battle to heal them or boost their defense will leave you wishing for a more traditional action/RPG skill system.
Your monsters act of their own accord, and you can only issue basic “attack” and “back away” commands, which don’t always seem to get taken care of. Its AI is generally decent, though when it fails it gets pretty frustrating – a big flaw is the lack of a lock-on system to get everyone to target a specific troublesome enemy. The big problem, though, is that watching your monsters roll, smash, stagger, and cast spells makes you realize just how limited and boring your own combat skills are. It constantly feels like your CPU friends are having way more fun than you are during fights, and that feeling of weakness never quite goes away. Even with the “Wild Side” special ability that increases your speed, damage, and critical rate it’s not as cool and effective as your monsters’ “Unleash the Dragon” special cinematic attacks.
It’s a testament to how strong the other elements of Dragon Quest Treasures are that despite often subpar combat, the game still manages to keep you eagerly coming back for more exploration and treasure hunting. Its bright-eyed, adventurous atmosphere and rewarding core gameplay loop go a long way in bringing the game to its conclusion. It might not be the richest game out there, but during its runtime, Dragon Quest Treasures does a good job of making you feel like a bandit king.