Out this Friday, Dragon Quest Treasures is undoubtedly high on the most wanted list of any Dragon Quest fan.
And, after spending some time with it ahead of its launch, fans are right to be excited. While it’s a bit of a departure from the mainline series, Dragon Quest Treasures captures the adventure-loving essence of the franchise and imbues it with a whole new focus: hunting for treasure.
You’ll play as young vagrant twins, Erik and Mia. When we meet them, they’re living and working on a Viking longship. And while they’re happy enough to have somewhere to sleep, it’s not the life they dream of. They want to be out in the world, hunting down treasure of their own. As luck would have it, a pair of creatures captured by the Vikings might just be the key to the life the siblings want.
In a cage high above the deck of the Viking longship are two magical creatures: Porcus and Purrsula. As the twins free them from their prison, they’re whisked away to a magical land called Draconia where they can begin a brand new life of hunting for treasure.
It isn’t until you reach Draconia that Dragon Quest Treasures properly begins. You’ll be introduced to its mechanics steadily, and that way, when you’re finally free to head out by yourself, you’ll have all the tools you need. Playing as either Erik or Mia – you can change at any time, or stick with just one of them – you’ll guide a party of monsters around the islands of Draconia, fighting off enemies, completing quests and, most importantly, hunting for treasure.
Many of the monsters you fight can be recruited into your party, valiantly fighting by your side. Monsters also have useful abilities that help you traverse your environment. Slimes, for example, can throw you up in the air, helping you reach high platforms. And flying-type monsters can propel you through the air to help you cover long distances or get over large gaps. There are also monsters that can tunnel underground, helping you bypass otherwise impenetrable barriers.
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You will need to make use of these abilities frequently, because the areas you’ll find yourself in as you explore Draconia are vast. There’s a lot of verticality to Dragon Quest Treasures, so scaling mountains and descending great ravines becomes part and parcel of your experience. With monsters to fly you downwards or propel you upwards, though, nothing is too challenging – and simply exploring the world around you offers plenty of fun. Just be careful you don’t end up in the lair of a high-level monster before you’re ready to take them on. It’s all too easy to end up somewhere you’re not prepared for.
Those monsters by your side aren’t just there to fight and to help you get around, either. They each have a built-in sense of where treasure might be. At any time, Erik or Mia can pull out a compass, which will point them in the direction of nearby treasure. But it’s your monsters’ senses that will correctly guide you. They’ll let you know when you’re really close and, when you’re in the right area, you’ll be able to see memories from each of your party members, pointing it out. A real scavenger hunt where X marks the spot: you simply need to match the memories to the environment around you.
The treasure you collect in Dragon Quest Treasures isn’t exactly loot, or valuable equipment you and your party can use. Not in the traditional RPG sense, anyway. None of it can be equipped or used by your party, but everything does have a value – you just won’t find out what it is until you’re back at your base camp to have it evaluated. As you find more valuable treasure, the rank of your party will increase. And the higher your rank is, the more valuable treasure you’ll be able to find. It’s a never-ending loop of treasure-hunting, where the stakes get constantly higher.
It’s a good job that it seems to be a very enjoyable loop, and one that gives you a great amount of freedom as a player. Sure, there are plenty of missions to complete along on the way, but it’s largely up to you how you tackle them. Your first main task in Dragon Quest Treasures will simply be to reach treasure hunting rank four – which you’ll achieve by finding treasure. But you’re free to visit any area of Draconia you wish, each area having plenty of side missions for you to undertake.
There are new characters to find and bring back to your base, for example. And there’s a whole railway system to get up and running, with each area having a couple of stations to hunt down and bring power to. Collecting treasure may be your main goal, but you’ll feel compelled to do everything else along the way as it’ll all make your treasure-hunting easier in the long run. New train stations means more fast-travel points for example. And by bringing more people to your base you’ll be able to access more useful resources.
Dragon Quest Treasures isn’t your typical Dragon Quest game. It’s not even your typical RPG. But there’s a lot to love here, and we’re having a great time exploring its world, gathering treasure and becoming more powerful as we do. Even if you’re not a huge Dragon Quest fan, we’d wager Dragon Quest Treasures is worth keeping on your radar if you have a sense of adventure.
We’ll have our full review of Dragon Quest Treasures later in the week.