Dragon Quest Treasures Review (Switch)
The Dragon Quest series is a staple in the JRPG community, continuously churning out games of varying quality for more than 35 years. The latest entry in this groundbreaking franchise is Dragon Quest Treasures, a spin-off from the main series, featuring many of the standard Dragon Quest tropes wrapped into one of the most accessible JRPG experiences out there. While that means this game is a good starting point for fans new to the genre and series, it won’t pose much of a challenge for seasoned treasure hunters.
Dragon Quest Treasures has a couple of familiar faces from the start. Erik, who served as a party member in Dragon Quest XI, and his younger sister Mia toil aboard a Viking ship in search of treasure chests to loot. Here is the first hint that this game is aimed at a younger audience, as the Vikings are presented as far more friendly and cheerful than they were in Dragon Quest XI. Erik and Mia are also older, with younger features and a more enthusiastic attitude that suits this cheerful adventure.
The plot maintains this age-appropriate feel throughout, along with a much shorter running time. Fans expecting to sink 100 hours into this game, as they did with its main predecessors, will be disappointed. Of course, there’s still a looming danger hanging over the world, but it doesn’t take on the sense of grand scale that JRPG fans might expect. Even when we last saw Erik and Mia, they were in the middle of a far more apocalyptic situation than they find themselves in here.
The first hour or so of this game is spent introducing the basics of gameplay, which focuses less on combat and more on finding and collecting treasure. You’ll even learn the mechanics of recruiting monsters and collecting treasure well before you swing your dagger. Increasing the size and value of your treasure stash is one of the most important ways you can advance the action; while you’ll have a fair amount of hacking and slashing your way, combat feels decidedly secondary to the hunt for valuables.
When you do need to get your dagger out, however, the combat is very straightforward, especially in the early hours of the game. It only requires players to hit the attack button to perform the main combo until the monster in question is defeated. Sometimes you’ll impress monsters so much with your skills that they become available to recruit at your base, which will allow you to build a more powerful party to take on bigger monsters and journey further into the unknown on your quest for the dragon Steiner . Honestly, the monsters in our party quickly became stronger than either Erik or Mia and could handle the enemies on the field without our help unless we tried to take on something much higher level.
Monster companions also become central to helping you travel across the world and the various terrains. Each one comes with a “Forte”, which is an ability that helps players reach new locations on the map. It’s a nice touch that encourages players not to focus on a monster’s battle stats when deciding on their party makeup. Having a wide range of Fortes in your party will allow you to leave no stone unturned in your quest for treasure.
Although they are presented as two main characters in this game, you will rarely see both Erik and Mia in action together. Players can control the sibling of their choice, leaving the other to stand behind the home base and take the non-party monsters on smaller errands to upgrade them. Both Erik and Mia play the exact same way, and the game even tells you that it doesn’t matter which one you control. You can switch between them every time you return to your base if you want, and progress with one carries over to the other, resulting in the choice being purely cosmetic.
Both Erik and Mia being playable feels like a missed opportunity to add a much needed wrinkle to the gameplay. Because both protagonists play the same and have almost identical personalities, it made the dual protagonist feel unnecessary. Giving them different abilities would have at least opened up some extra possibilities for solving tasks by switching between them.
Every mechanic in Dragon Quest Treasures is a good, if simplistic, take on a JRPG mechanic, adding to the sense that this game is for younger players. Finding treasure is just a case of giving a command and being pointed in the right direction by your magical dagger. When you get close enough, your monster companions will have a “vision” of where it is, forcing you to check your surroundings until you spot it and dig it up. It’s a fun mechanic, although it gets repetitive after a few hours of it. Although it’s a fun visual nod to how each monster sees things a little differently. Tiresome companions see the world in black and white, and orcs, for example, have a kind of ultraviolet vision. It’s a small touch that makes the monster vision moments feel like more than just getting another snapshot to help you find the treasure.
Dragon Quest Treasures has a limited online functionality that consists of entering other players’ “worlds” and hiding a copy of your own treasure on one of the floating islands there. It wasn’t activated when we tried to test it before release, but it seems to encourage players to help each other build their treasure hoards. You can also send some of your monsters to other bases as part of their welcome party, which is a purely cosmetic touch, but can be an exciting way to see just what kind of monsters are out there to recruit.
The gameplay and action may be more kid-friendly fare, but this is still a Dragon Quest game, which comes with certain expectations. The music sounds right at home in the series, hitting all the dramatic high points and somber tones you’d expect. The animation and character designs are colorful and full of personality and charm, from the massive boss fights to the little details like how Erik and Mia put the daggers away with a dramatic flourish. It’s not the best-looking Dragon Quest game out there, but it’s still beautiful to see and hear everything in action.
Dragon Quest Treasures plays like an introduction to JRPGs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of fun to be had in it. The characters are simple but charming and the monsters have all the classic Dragon Quest designs that returning fans will expect, while the focus on exploration rather than combat makes this entry perfect for those looking for a more relaxed gaming experience. If you have a young person in your life who is curious about JRPGs, this is a great way to get them hooked on the genre.
If you go in expecting to sink 100 hours into Dragon Quest Treasures or think you’ll get the same kind of intricate plot that the series is known for, you’ll come away disappointed. But if you’re a younger player looking to get a taste of what a JRPG is like, or you just want something casual to tackle, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Everything you would expect in a JRPG is in this game, just stripped back to the basics, all adorned with the timeless charm of Dragon Quest.