Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince follows the story of the Dark Prince who has been cursed by his estranged father and is unable to harm any monsters. He now has to become a monster wrangler and create his very own army of monstrosities to take revenge on his tyrannical father.
Travel across many locations through ever-changing seasons in real-time across desolate factories, mountains made of cake, grassy hills and gleaming crystal caves as you explore each layer of Nadiria and the many monsters that habit each area.
Dragon Quest: Monsters is a turn-based RPG, a monster catching game similar to Pokémon in some aspects but not all. After playing the game for more than 10 hours, I've been hooked on its gameplay mechanics and monster scouting and found it difficult to put the game down. And here’s why…
Battles begin once you walk into a roaming monster and are set-up in a traditional RPG way. At this point, you'll have a few options at your disposal. These are:
Fight, which is pretty self-explanatory, allows your monsters to attack with a basic attack.
Orders allow you to select any monster in your party and give them a specific order, like using a special ability or healing a specific ally. This allows you to command your monsters to attack different enemies with one of their many unique abilities, depending on their speed, meaning faster monsters will attack first and slower ones last. It’s a great way to set-up a string of attacks or prepare your monsters for an imminent strike by the enemy.
Scout allows you to recruit a monster into your ranks but this depends on how much influence you have in the current area. The less influence you have, the less likely a monster will join you, although defeating a big boss or a heavy hitter in an area can increase your chances of recruitment.
The beauty of this system is that you can play manually and select all the actions yourself if you have the time or simply press the ZR trigger and this will activate the auto-battle system. And it allows your monsters to fight automatically, saving you from putting in any commands. The monsters are quite competent in battle. This feature can be disabled at any time during combat, which is handy.
There are many stages to visit in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, each with their own themes, such as the Circle of Conquest, which has a spooky atmosphere, or the Circle of Indulgence, which is a world made up of cakes and treats. Each location has its own monsters too and this can be changed depending on the current season. A unique mechanic that happens in real-time every few minutes, seasons change from spring, summer, fall and winter, which alters the environment’s colour palette instantly before your eyes. This affects the monsters in the area, changing them up depending on the current season.
There’s also over 500 monsters to discover on your travels; these can be scouted during battles or created by combining two monsters together using the synthesis feature located in the rose tower. Once you’ve levelled up a monster to level 10, you can combine them together using your “synthesis” ability, creating brand new offspring ranging from small, medium or large, depending on what creatures you combined together. Creating a brand new monster and unlocking new abilities. This was really addictive, and I strived to create the ultimate team using this feature.
Finally, there are moments where you need to fight in area style battles, almost like Pokémon battles against another group of monsters. In these instances, you can not use any items and must solely rely on your monster abilities to survive three rounds against increasingly difficult enemies, which can be quite challenging. You can also play against other real players online in three modes: ranked, friends, tournaments earning new monsters and rewards if you win.
- Turn based combat: manual, auto
- Vast amounts of locations to explore
- 500 monsters to discover
- Online battles
I've encountered a few little performance issues when exploring certain open areas in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince. The first area: grass-lands made me worry that the rest of the open world areas were going to run poorly; however, each area performs differently depending on what's going on.
There is voice acting in Dragon Quest Monsters but I found the acting very stilted and not very easy to listen to. Each of the characters has pretty whiny voices and I occasionally skipped dialogue entirely because it was difficult to sit there and listen to it.
- Some performance issues in the open world
- Voice acting can be little cringy
Final Score: 9/10
I really loved Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, probably more than I initially thought I would. Its gameplay loop is fun; scouting new monsters and creating new ones out of old ones was pretty addictive. I love exploring all the varied environments and watching in real-time the seasons change and alter the world. I also really enjoyed the accessible combat. This is probably one of my favourite RPGs of 2023!
Thank you for checking out our Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Switch review, thank you to Square Enix (via Bandai Namco AU) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: