Rewinding a decade or so to when Erik, yes, that Erik from Dragon Quest XI, was a plucky young lad, Dragon Quest Treasures takes the player on a seafaring adventure with his sister Mia. When the duo are lead by a flying cat and a flying pig through a portal whilst holding daggers that allow them to communicate (you can't make this stuff up), they'll search islands-a-plenty across Draconia high and low for anything that sparkles.
Dragon Quest Treasures features a unique mechanic that allows monsters to join the party thanks to the mysterious daggers. With this, Erik and Mia are able to see in their mind the position as to where hidden treasures are located. This ability is called Treasure Visions and you can cycle through and rewatch them by holding L and pressing B. What I love about this is that it doesn't simply give you a marker on the map; as treasure hunters, you're required to study the surroundings in the still image you're provided and attempt to find it on your own. It's a puzzle, not a fetch quest.
It also wouldn't be a Dragon Quest game without battles! In Dragon Quest Treasures, the combat does away with the classic turn-based formula and opts for real-time action gameplay, allowing you to move around, attack, use your catapult to sling pebbels at enemies with varying effects and roll at will. Meanwhile, you'll also be assisted with the monsters that join your party who fight on their own accord, although you do have the ability to have them either charge in or retreat back to you.
While it's not compulsary to have played Dragon Quest XI prior to Dragon Quest Treasures, there are plenty of callbacks to the main entry that helps to liven up the presentation. Even though the franchise as a whole has an over-tendancy to reuse its main themes, such as its art, character designs and music, Dragon Quest is such an anomaly that it can absolutely get away with it. Dragon Quest Treasures is a whimsical addition to the Dragon Quest franchise and, just as we like it, it doesn't shy away from reusing previously established assets to make us feel all nostalgic and gitty inside. Even most of the treasures you collect are callbacks to characters and key items from previous mainline iterations.
- Fun monster collection and treasure hunting
- Seamless action-RPG combat within open vista environments
- As many Dragon Quest callbacks as you could ever want
While the catapult mechanic allows you to use range abilities in combat by the various elemental pellets you find, the combat itself is quite bland. Perhaps this is because I just started this game after having played Bayonetta 3, which is arguably one of the best precision-action games ever made, but the stiff movement and abilities are just so apparent. Perhaps it's not right to compare the two but even on it's own merits, the action is certainly not the highlight of Dragon Quest Treasures' gameplay.
Dragon Quest Treasures seems to suffer from the same issues that a lot of these types of games seem to, and that's disruptive pacing; and with this entry, I believe I've figured out why. You see, games that involve the player going on quests to find hordes of treasure appear to rely on that satisfaction of consistant gratification, so once the player begins to find treasure, it's not in the game's best interest to disrupt this flow until it's necessary to start moving the plot along. However, the ambition of some of these entries, especially in a series that has as much history as Dragon Quest, puts a lot of emphasis on the exposition, being the early portions of the game, which results in a painfully long and drawn out opening hour or two, filled with gradual world and plot building, which then follows up by a complete lack of story for what is the next 70% of the game. It's a jarring juxtaposition for the player and one that very few developers in this genre tend to get right.
Games like Dragon Quest Treasures feel like a game that 10 years ago, would have been developed for the Nintendo 3DS as opposed to the Wii U. Not because the Wii U often got overlooked when it came to third-party support (which it certainly did - by the way, happy anniversary Wii U), but because Dragon Quest Treasures is a much lower budgeted effort in comparison to a main entry. This is where I feel as though low budgeted spin-off entries of large franchises are struggling to find their place - with this generation omitting the dedicated handheld route (not including the Switch Lite, of course), lower budgeted entries like this need to be able to run on home consoles. And when you put a game like that on a 65 inch 4K TV from a console that struggles to run 1080p at a consistent frame rate and completely lacking in HDR, it begins to show its cracks, losing the magic that once lurked behind the curtain.
- Bland combat
- Odd pacing due to the genre's common pitfalls
- Rough around the edges
Final Score: 7/10
I truly love the Dragon Quest franchise, which is probably what is saving this review's Final Score from being a five or a six. Dragon Quest Treasures is fine, but it is in no way memorable. It's pacing leads to what often feels like a grind and the weak combat doesn't do enough to dismiss this criticism. That being said, the combat serves its purpose towards what is an addictive gameplay loop amongst its free-roaming action-RPG glory. This spin-off entry is bursting with Dragon Quest charm, one that a massive fan like me can appreciate in all its colourful Yuji Horii greatness! So it's clear that I'm of two minds with this one, so a non-commital seven is what it must be from me.
Thank you for checking out our Dragon Quest Treasures 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: