The original Dragon Quest Heroes took the musou genre to a new level. Sure, it contained plenty of pushing forward and mashing the X button, mowing down hordes of enemies, but it also tossed plenty of classic RPG mechanics into the mix. It was a breath of fresh air from the team at Omega Force, and became one of my favorite titles in the genre. With the sequel, I was already in and the team has kept what made the original special, while also mixing up the formula just enough to keep it fresh.
One of the biggest surprises of both the original and its sequel is how heavy the game is focused around its story. Dragon Quest Heroes II follows the story of two cousins who are pulled into a conflict between two formerly peaceful nations. Of course, along the way they run into a colorful cast of characters who look exactly like what one would expect from a Dragon Quest game. The writing is decent and the characters are as whimsical as ever. The dynamics between them work, and it actually ends up being a pretty fun narrative.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, PS3, Vita
Price I’d Pay: $39.99
The minute-to-minute game play has also received an overhaul. Expanding on the RPG elements, Heroes II tosses players into a semi-open world to explore, each with their own unique look and theme. Think of it like a traditional RPG but with musou combat. The mission variety also helps. There are of course large horde-bashing simulations, but there are also boss fights, stealth missions, and even labyrinth puzzles to solve. The diversity is fantastic, and keeps the game flowing at a steady pace.
The combat is standard musou fare with a few twists. As the game progresses the two main characters gain access to new classes. This gives them new weapons and styles to play around with. There is also a gear system, and of course skill upgrades for every character. The monster tokens also make a return, with three styles allowing players to summon, or even control the beasts they defeat on the battlefield. There is a lot going on here, and the game does a nice job of pacing out the systems so as not to overwhelm players all at once.
Combat is also the game’s biggest issue. While it is perfectly serviceable as far as the genre is concerned, it does tend to grow stale in a game with so much else going on. The waves of enemies are simply fodder, while the bosses take far too long to bring down. It also rarely breaks up the monotony of mashing buttons followed by a cinematic super move or magic spells. Also hitting enemies didn’t feel as good as in other titles, which has to do with the finicky lock-on mechanic. Overall I simply wish the combat matched the rest of the package in quality.
The biggest addition to this sequel though is the ability to plough dungeons with friends. There is now a cooperative mode in the game that allows players to join up to three friends to tackle missions. It was much more enjoyable mashing buttons when I had a party along for the ride. The drawback is the way it is designed. There is a lobby system for players to match, but when it comes to doing story missions, players have to have completed the mission to help someone else out, and they have to find someone looking for help. If I wanted to play with friends, I had to setup passcodes, which is simply archaic. Cooperative games in 2017 should not be this complicated to enjoy.
The visual style continues to impress. The art behind the characters looks absolutely fantastic, and the worlds match that quality. This is a gorgeous game, and it runs pretty solid. Sure some of the characters and enemies are interchangeable with just about any game designed by Akira Toriyama, but that doesn’t change the fact that they look outstanding. The music is epic and the voice acting is solid, but it is also weird seeing all these anime-inspired characters sporting British and Scottish accents.
Dragon Quest Heroes II is a solid sequel to a refreshing take on the musou genre. I love that Omega Force has been expanding on the style for a while now. These themed entries are often much more interesting than the standard ‘Warriors’ games. Still, some of the changes feel not for the best, and the combat started to drag on the longer I played.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.