Dragon Quest Heroes was perhaps my biggest surprise this year (here's my review). In general, I do not enjoy the musou-style game, and do not have a history with the Dragon Quest series. It was these two factors that made Heroes such a surprisingly fun experience. It doesn’t radically change the musou formula, but it does enough that I am happy to recommend it anyone. I was curious, however, to hear from a Dragon Quest fan, which is why I challenged Kim to play the game for our annual fight for the top 50 games of the year discussion.
Kyle: I know you like Dragon Quest, but do you like musou games? Did you ever play a Dynasty Warriors game, or try out Hyrule Warriors?
Kim: I actually do. I never got super obsessed with musou games, but I like to play them every so often. It’s fun to just take on a bunch of enemies and master simple inputs – a perfect way to de-stress. I’ve played some Dynasty Warriors and also tried some Hyrule Warriors, but I think Dragon Quest Heroes just scratched the right itch for me. I adore Dragon Quest, love building characters, and enjoy monster recruitment. I know you aren’t into Dragon Quest like I am. I totally squeed when Yangus and Jessica appeared. What did you enjoy about the overall gameplay?
Kyle: The big things for me were the Monster Medals, which let you unleash collected monsters during battle, and visiting the Stonecloud between levels. The former added some much needed strategy (though admittedly light) to the repetitive action, and the latter gave me a much better sense of progression than any previous musou game. What stood out to you?
Kim: I felt like it just nailed so much of what I love about Dragon Quest, even the Stonecloud had little callbacks to the series, like socializing at bar, crafting gear, and going to a chapel to save. Even more, I felt like it had more variety on the battlefield. Having the cannons and Monster Medals gave me something to do other than just comboing attacks. This just felt more strategic than past musou games I’ve played. My biggest complaints stem from the nonsense story and throwaway side content. I wanted to do extra things to max out some of my characters, but repeating levels got so dull that it felt like a chore. I wish they added an extra new wrinkle to some of those side battles. What are some of the things that didn’t work for you?
Kyle: Oh yeah, those repeated missions were pretty bland. They aren’t necessary for completing the game, though they are helpful. I only did the ones I needed to and avoided the ones that were clearly repeats. I didn’t feel particularly compelled to level everyone up, outside of my main team, so that worked out okay. Without a history with those characters, I just picked the ones with attack styles I liked and used them exclusively. The main beats of the story I also didn’t find particularly compelling. I found plenty of other reasons to keep playing, so that wasn’t an issue, but the story did little for me.
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Kim: Even as a Dragon Quest fan I couldn’t appreciate the story…not that I was expecting much. Trying to have a rational reason for why all these different universes and characters are colliding is difficult, but I still would have liked some more character moments. You get them when you first recruit each one, but then they disappear. That being said, I’m just happy this came to North America. I never thought it would, considering Dragon Quest doesn’t have the best localization track record. Playing it now, I can’t get over how much fun it is, especially when you take down some of those mightier and trickier bosses. I enjoy how much extra there is to do besides just fighting through waves of enemies. I also think it does a good job of providing a lot of interesting combatants for you to choose from. Man, this one is a tricky call for me. While I acknowledge this game is a lot of fun, we had a lot of great games come out this year. Overall, what makes you think it deserves a spot?
Kyle: I think the fact that I am not a fan of the Dragon Quest series and still had a good time with the game speaks very highly of it. It deserves a spot because it does something interesting with the tired musou genre, and after this and Hyrule Warriors, I am actually excited for what Omega Force is doing next. Being a fan of the Dragon Quest series is just a bonus for those interested in the game.
Kim's Verdict: As I mentioned earlier, this is a really competitive year for games. Dragon Quest Heroes is a solid game, and I’d love to see it on the list. Kyle makes a good point about it doing something interesting with the musou genre. A lot of people complain about these types of games all being the same, but Dragon Quest adds its own flavor and strategy to the experience. I’m supporting it as a candidate worthy for our list, but I think it’s going to be a tough call with all the other games in competition. Keeping my fingers crossed that it makes the cut!