Journal

[Early Thoughts] Dragon Quest Heroes


I’ve begun playing Dragon Quest Heroes, finally. My initial impressions are very positive. This game seems to relish in its roots. I’ve never been one to bash on nostalgia, or maybe I have, but I was wrong when I did. Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing and I think that when it is used properly it provides great emotional returns with low impact.

Seeing the monsters from the Dragon Quest series has always made me smile. This game makes great use of all of them and the art is exactly as you’d hope it would be. The transition to 3D (and 1080p) is absolutely marvelous. Everything looks amazing and the colors jump off of the screen. When you get a new party member there is this 15-20 second jingle that happens, but you don’t get mad, or at least I didn’t. It’s so happy and it reminds me of how jovial old games used to be that I’m left really pleased.

I take that moment to reflect on my experience so far and how much fun I’m having. I really enjoy all of the characters I’ve met so far. They are cliches but they are cliches that I enjoy, and they are well written. The interactions between the characters are all believable and fun. Some of it is a bit too silly, but then I ask myself “bit too silly for whom?” I realize the answer isn’t me and stop caring.

You are tasked with figuring out why the monsters of your world have suddenly become violent. Prior to the start of the game they were all super friendly and rad. The game spends about 0 seconds letting you wonder who did it. Metaphorical arrows point at the bad guy and say “This asshole did it!”

That’s fine though. Sometimes a simple narrative works for me. This game has one goal with me and that is for me to have fun. I appreciate that goal and will not knock it. Too often I find games end up shoulder deep in their own rear ends, too concentrated on inflating a story that wasn’t all that solid to begin with.

The gameplay is rock solid. It’s a bit of a cheat because the team behind the Warriors series has honed their skills to a fine edge. Again I have no complaints. They have something they like to do and they are doing it. If I was getting paid to make a game I like I’d keep making that game until people didn’t want it anymore.

The sound direction is a mixed bag. The sound effects for the most part are fantastic. The major exception being the footsteps sound. Nobody, ever, sounds like that. I don’t know why games make it sound like you are an angry toddler stomping through the countryside. I almost never can hear my footsteps, even when running. It’s just not a very loud thing unless I’m wearing terrible shoes or it is raining outside.

The crunch of branches, grass, and the shifting of dirt, these are all relatively quiet noises when compared to gusts of wind or the roars of monsters.

Additionally the music is, apparently, mixed from the older games. This means we’ve got one or two minute music loops that are a bit hard to ignore. I turned the music volume down to 1 (from the default of 7 or 8) and now it’s more of a garnish to the meal rather than a mountain of lettuce atop it.

The voice acting is fantastic. I don’t know how other people feel about the VA for this game but I really like it. I’m exceptionally happy that I’m playing it in English. The amusing choices they made for the characters would be lost on me if they were all speaking Japanese. Just, real great.

Overall this is a wonderful game so far. I don’t see it disappointing me. I do imagine that the late game grind, if I am looking for platinum, is going to be painful, but we’ll see, there is nothing stopping me from stopping.

For now though…time to go make with the stabby.