Dragon Quest, one of the most popular RPGs in Japan, is a series that has remarkably kept its legacy strong since its inception on the Famicom back in 1985, sporting the artwork of the amazing Akira Toriyama, as well as adapting D&D into a video game. Now the series continues to dominate sales charts in Japan, as well as receiving a large following globally, which created all sorts of spin-off games in between numbered releases. One such project was Dragon Quest Heroes, a hack-and-slash game developed by Omega Force, who are famously known for their Dynasty Warriors games. Surprisingly, Dragon Quest Heroes received pretty high scores and a sequel was inevitable. Dragon Quest Heroes 2 adds in more RPG features, while streamlining some of the mechanics in the first game to make an overall better game for fans of either Dragon Quest or Dynasty Warriors, as well as a solid title for fans.
Yes, Omega Force cranks out licensed games quicker than one can say, “Brand deal,” but there seems to have been a jump in quality in their titles within the last five years or so. Dynasty Warriors Gundam had three solid games on the last generation of consoles, and Hyrule Warriors on Wii U and 3DS was critically raved about. More and more, Omega Force are taking their general mold and adapting it to fit the needs of the franchise they are representing. While Dragon Quest Heroes 2 was certainly developed with fans of the classic RPG series in mind, there’s a lot to love in this simple, but fun adventure.
Two protagonists are playable, Lazarel and Teresa, offering a classic choice at the outset. Our story begins with the two cousins visiting each other and enjoying the town of Harba, where they discuss how the world agreed to never fight again after a period of terrible war. Unfortunately, this long-standing peace is dashed away by the arrival of an army led by their old friend, Cesar. This starts a campaign across the land to find the reason of the attack, joined by new characters and old friends from previous Dragon Quest games. Is there more than just political intrigue at work though?
This adventure feels just like a typical Dragon Quest RPG, but with action combat. Taking down hundreds of classic monsters feels awesome, especially when things turn absurd with the sheer amount of enemies on screen. I will also add that the game ran pretty smoothly on my modest Geforce 660 Ti Boost GPU, only slowing down occasionally in the massive battles. Each monster looks awesome in 3D, retaining all the charm they carried in the original series, while also providing a set of attacks and behaviors. Combat is pretty standard and those that have played any Dynasty Warriors style game will feel comfortable. Special attacks can be mapped for four different spells at a time, while super moves can be performed after going into a powerful Tension Mode. There are also Tag Attacks that instantly switch in another party member and Monster Coins that have various effects.
To keep things from getting repetitive, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 has plenty of unique feeling characters to play as. Personally, I always kept Cesar for his wave clearing ice attack and Carver for massive damage output. Not only are there plenty of classic characters to use, but each of the protagonists can change classes, giving them unique weapons and skills to use. I kept Teresa as a warrior, but gave her a battle axe to keep smaller enemies at bay with its larger swathes. Honestly, I expected to get bored after a few hours of Dragon Quest Heroes 2, but I rarely felt that way due to the RPG structure and my love for the series.
Being that this is based off of an RPG, there has to be a leveling up system. Dragon Quest Heroes 2, expands upon the system of the previous game, letting players attach skill points to whatever skills they can afford, given that they also have the level requirement. For the two main characters, there are also skills that transfer over to other classes. This system is incredibly simple and each skill actually feels useful in the long run. Whenever I got a new character though, I always grabbed the skill that increased the length of invincibility while rolling. If Dark Souls taught me anything over the years, its that the more invincibility frames the better.
Equipment is also simplified. There are various shops in the hub city that the player will frequently visit, with more opening up as the story progresses. There are tons of cool weapons and accessories to find. I always enjoy buying new weapons for the team, as I’ve always been a fan of games that actually change what they look like when equipped. Accessories can also be upgraded, making them more potent or having their effects happen more frequently. Dragon Quest Heroes 2 is less about equipment management and more about getting to the next fight. Preparation is certainly part of it, but it never felt like a daunting task like it would in say Fire Emblem or Dragon Quest Monsters.
Battles are usually a blast to experience. Laying waste to the enemy ranks or creating a retreat by beating a leader is a spectacle that feels great to pull off. Beating monsters also has the chance to drop coins, allowing the player to summon them to help out, do a powerful attack, or even transform the player to that monster. These transformation spells are the most fun to use, as the player becomes a massive damage dealer for a short time. There’s nothing quite like becoming a Golem and punching another Golem with a stone fist. Too bad they only last for a short time.
While the story is nothing spectacular, it has some pretty cool moments. Each major scene is beautifully rendered and well voiced. It’s a bit lackluster in the drama, essentially boiling down to medieval politics, but it sometimes gets more personal with the characters. Playing through the story though is a fun time as there are quite a few locations and thousands of monsters to knock around. I never really had much trouble succeeding at the normal difficulty, but it always felt like my characters were vulnerable. It felt like a few wrong moves or a poorly timed tactic would lead to my demise, which happened a few times. This created a feeling of skill that I enjoyed performing again and again.
While many Dynasty Warrior games happen in battle to battle, there is a fairly large open world vibe to a lot of the environments in Dragon Quest Heroes 2. These areas have hidden nooks, powerful roaming beasts to conquer, and quests to perform. Some quests even expand the use of a shop or adds a useful piece of equipment. While this is obviously used to pad out the gameplay, there were a few quests that were pretty fun and challenging, not to mention funny with their requests.
Really, one of the few criticisms I have for this game, and other games like it, are the massive sponges that many enemies and bosses are. Sure, there are a few clever strategies to use, but some of the bosses throw the same attacks and used the same powers back at them. Later in the story, I found myself keeping my distance and launching Cesar’s ice spell to hit multiple foes at once, only to refresh my MP after a bit to do it again. Honestly, I’m not sure how to fix this issue within the style of Dragon Quest Heroes 2 aside from just smaller health bars. Maybe more emphasis on elemental weaknesses? Or even context attacks like what we saw in Kingdom Hearts 2?
Of course, for fans of the series, Dragon Quest Heroes 2 has all the right touches to bring about a smile. Seeing a favorite character appear on screen is awesome, hearing a familiar jingle is heartwarming, and catching a reference for another game shows the care put into this title. I’ve played several Dragon Quest games through the years, but I’m not nearly as well versed in the franchise as I am with Final Fantasy. Even so, there is a ton to love in Dragon Quest Heroes 2 for me and I haven’t even delved into some of the more robust features.
There is also a multiplayer mode for players to team up against tough dungeons and tons of little things to find strewn about the game’s world. Even though this is in essence a Dynasty Warriors game, it felt like it fell more on the Dragon Quest side of the merge. Fans of the RPG genre should definitely consider trying out Dragon Quest Heroes 2. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised on just how much I enjoyed playing.
I also have to add that on Steam the Steam Controller worked wonderfully. Most of my Xbox 360 controllers have seen better days, so I popped in the underused controller on a whim, finding it syncing well to the game and actually being fun to use.
For more information on Dragon Quest Heroes 2, check out the official website. A review code on Steam was provided. A Switch collection, Dragon Quest Heroes I&II is supposedly on the way to the West soon.
For more Dragon Quest content, check out my review of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past on 3DS.