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Review

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below Review

  • First Released Oct 13, 2015
    released
  • Reviewed Oct 7, 2015
  • PS4

Blighted by the night, vanquishing the plight by the children of the light.

No video game character conveys endearment and sadism in a single expression as well as the Blue Slimes. In Dragon Quest Heroes: The World’s Tree Woe and the Blight Below, these iconic teardrop-shaped blobs have never looked more adorable and homicidal, which is what makes killing them en masse one of this game’s greatest pleasures. It’s one of many delights aptly delivered by a collaboration that is one part Dynasty Warriors, one part Dragon Quest. As a hack-and-slasher with countless enemy encounters, character growth, and a shopping list of quests, it was joy to be reminded how much both series have in common.

As a contrast to all the dimension hopping that made up much of last year’s Hyrule Warriors (a Dynasty Warriors take on The Legend of Zelda universe), this Dragon Quest spin-off takes the reverse approach. Instead of protagonists jumping to various worlds in older Dragon Quest games, adventurers from those games come into the new world established in Dragon Quest Heroes.

No performance issues in sight despite the battles’ high headcount.
No performance issues in sight despite the battles’ high headcount.

Welcoming these otherworldly guests is a new foursome comprising of two co-protagonists whose default names are Aurora and Luceus, the boisterous King Doric, and an skilled inventor named Isla. I have always admired the mainline series for defying traditional fantasy RPG party formations and archetypes and this new team could easily carry a mainline Dragon Quest installment. That’s a bold statement especially when Aurora and Luceus are two sides of the same coin. Their complementary personalities are best showcased during the cutscenes where your see Luceus’ analytical side and Aurora’s impatience to jump into battle. Aside from a momentary interlude where you’re forced to use one of the guest adventurers, you can have a wholly enjoyable time relying solely on these new characters while ignoring the rest of the roster.

It’s a varied cast where each warrior easily proves their worth over the course of a single battle. The only thing better than seeing 3D models of characters like Dragon Quest IV’s Alena and Kiryl is hearing them speak for the first time. Just as it was momentous to have voice acting in a Final Fantasy game in 2001 with Final Fantasy X, so too was the introduction of dialogue in Dragon Quest VIII ten years ago. Hearing much of the cast speak in English accents in Journey of the Cursed King created a rare connection to the Tolkienian roots of JRPGs. Having Yungus’ cockney accent reprised in Dragon Quest Heroes--by the original voice actor no less--only makes this reunion all the more special.

This mingling of heroes from other worlds helps distract from the story’s laughably generic premise of light versus dark. Even the two co-leaders are named Children of the Light. The story starts off on an uncommonly cheerful note, even by Dragon Quest standards, where humans and monsters are happily co-existing. Due to a spell by a dark wizard named Velasco, the monsters are suddenly reminded that they’re supposed to hate humans. The ensuing chaos and unrest gives the game’s heroes more than enough to deal with, let alone reason to investigate why their non-human friends suddenly turned on them. It’s a good thing the story has its share of twists and guest character interactions to compensate for this otherwise plain narrative.

The bread and butter of the Dynasty Warriors franchise and many of its spin-offs has been the map-wide territorial tug-of-war where you and your armies race against the opposing military in conquering land one patch at a time. It essentially amounts to a game of which side can kill the other teams’ generals faster. If you’re ineffective with your time or get distracted my hordes of grunts, the resulting lack of shifting tides can make from some painfully prolonged battles. The great news is that there is much less of this in Dragon Quest Heroes. It’s not a tug-of-war so much as it is an exercise in permanently putting out fires, namely enemy spawn points called maws. Once you defeat a given maw’s Mawkeeper, that portal is gone, although most story missions will spawn multiple maws over the course of a battle. It’s a veritable rush to run from maw to maw while weaving past the opposition, leaving the minions to the rest of your team.

Even with a cast of heroes this large, there’s enough combat flourish to go around.
Even with a cast of heroes this large, there’s enough combat flourish to go around.

As a spin-off among a growing library of Warriors spin-offs, Dragon Quest Heroes sticks to the series’ hack-and-slash gameplay, which means that it benefits from a battle system that has taken 15 prolific years to mature. It’s come a long way from the outdated and stiff controls of Dynasty Warriors 2. From deft mid-air attacks to deadly four-hit combos, every hero’s repertoire is more than adequate. You might wish for the depth and exactness of Devil May Cry but when time is of the essence and a single sword swing can take out half a dozen skeletons, you don’t need precision. You certainly don’t need it when your blade can summon a screen-clearing tornado.

As much of a draw it is to reunite with characters from various mainline Dragon Quests over a single game, what truly sets Dragon Quest Heroes apart from other Warriors games is its Monster Minion feature. A given kill has the potential to drop a medal version of that respective monster. With the medal, you can summon that monster as an ally.

Aside from the palpable drama of turning the tide, these minions create two minigames. The first is knowing how to best take advantage of a given monster’s strengths. Given that they don’t follow you throughout the battlefield, summoning a monster the moment you get its medal isn’t necessarily the best move. Sometimes it's better to save them in anticipation of harder enemies at the latter half of a mission. The second game that is born out of the Monster Minions relates to the spawn points. The need for wise and strategic placement of monsters along a crowded path of enemies creates countless opportunities for--you guessed it--tower defense gameplay. These opportunities are brief, assuming you’re smart and efficient in focusing on maws yourself, but it’s nonetheless satisfying to have a squad of self-sufficient teammates, human or otherwise, who can limit the flow of Gargoyles, Goodybags, and Hackasauruses. Aside from some of the bosses, the entire bestiary is fair game. Your only limits are the monsters in a given map and the amount of medals you can carry at a given time. It’s a blessing to the rest of the opposing army that you can’t keep your newly recruited monsters for future battles. Using an army of Stone Golems mission after mission would surely nerf much of your playthrough.

King Slime, you’re adorable. Prepare to die.
King Slime, you’re adorable. Prepare to die.

In missions where you have to protect an object, it’s often the best strategy to leave a few friendly mid-boss type monsters on guard duty surrounding said object. You’d be surprised how gratifying it is check on them later on to find that they have everything under their control against equally large foes. And even if you have more pressing matters to attend to, no one would blame you for briefly jumping into this orgy of destruction, if only to see how many you can take down in a single coup de grace attack. It’s sheer bedlam when you can get these larger creatures to fill up your screen. Then it becomes a game of whether or not you can create slowdown or reduce the framerate by having too much going on at once. The action was never not fluid during my playthrough.

As with every Warriors game, there’s every opportunity to manage your heroes and enhance their skills in between missions. You start off in a standard issue basecamp, and by the time you’re used to your amenities, you’re upgraded to an airship. Both are as well-organized as any small town you can find in a JRPG: you have your church, alchemist, bar, and blacksmith. This is a Dragon Quest game, so naturally the weapons dealer is the burly gentleman sporting the horned helmet. Your base is also where you take on optional quests, which yields rewards like expanded inventory slots and Monster Medal capacity. It’s a good idea to periodically grind by coming back to older areas in the map; quests add more purpose and incentives to these non-story skirmishes. It’s diversions like these that provide a thoughtful connection to JRPG designs. Oftentimes, it feels like the only difference in Dragon Quest Heroes is the accelerated body count.

Yes, there are slippery Liquid Metal Slimes who yield tons of XP.
Yes, there are slippery Liquid Metal Slimes who yield tons of XP.

Seeing Akira Toriyama’s many creations in Dragon Quest Heroes never get old, even after defeating over a thousand Skeletons. The treasure traps known as Mimics have never looked so lively, right down to the perpetually dangling tongue. Same goes for the Great Sabrecats, whose expressive cartoony faces wouldn’t feel out of place in the Sunday comics section.

As much as I long for a new mainline Dragon Quest (not to mention the leisure time to play more JRPGs), Dragon Quest Heroes: The World’s Tree Woe and the Blight Below affords every lover of the franchise the rare opportunity to cause genocidal destruction with the kind of efficiency you cannot find in a turn-based RPG. To flank a monster is to also admire it from angles you seldom see up close in other Dragon Quests. These tens of thousands of encounters plus the appearances by the series’ many other heroes makes for an essential experience for any Dragon Quest fan, even if you haven’t played a hack-and-slasher in ages. These characters are so fully realized that, assuming you’re not a stickler for official canon, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider Dragon Quest Heroes as a companion piece alongside the main series.

Back To Top
The Good
Akira Toriyama’s character designs have never appeared livelier
Monster minions add immense depth to what have would’ve been a repetitive experience
Diverse combat styles provide variety across one or multiple playthroughs
Does not rely on classic Dynasty Warriors territorial tug-of-war
Seeing old Dragon Quest characters make for a heartwarming reunion
The Bad
Makes you wish a mainline Dragon Quest game looked this gorgeous
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

It took Miguel 40 hours to handily beat Dragon Quest Heroes with over 100 side quests completed. He comes into Dragon Quest Heroes having beaten five mainline Dragon Quests, his favorite being Dragon Quest VIII.
170 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for technature
Technature

"Makes you wish a mainline Dragon Quest game looked this gorgeous"

THIS IS NOT A NEGATIVE POINT! IF ANYTHING, IT'S POSITIVE!

LEARN TO JOURNALIST!

Avatar image for noobtastic37615
Noobtastic37615

It's a pretty nice game, however near the end/post game it just got really, really tedious killing the "boss" mobs, they take forever to kill.. and when it takes like 5 straight minutes (or more) whacking away at one thing it really kills any enjoyment to be had..

Avatar image for Dnaisinmybody
Dnaisinmybody

Installed this game on PC. My first thought was oh god the graphics are horrendeus. I'm not one to dismiss a game for graphics but it looked so terrible my eyes hurt. Some games made in 2006 have better graphics.

Avatar image for csward
csward

Good game, but dynasty warriors through and through. This game is pathetically easy thanks to god mode powers not present in DW and the reviewer mentions it nowhere.

Avatar image for adalramion
adalramion

I miss turn base RPGs :,(

Avatar image for adalramion
adalramion

@adalramion: I do too, why the hell do they think button smashing is fun? it gets old very fast. I hope they don't ruin the remake on FF7

Avatar image for kitty
kitty

Looks like a solid game and the score is great. I'll have to pick this up.

Moderator
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RustedTruck650

I wish it was more challenging but sooo fun nonetheless.

Avatar image for advocacy
advocacy

Coar blimey!

Avatar image for blazinpuertoroc
blazinpuertoroc

As for the negative Dragon Quest XI looks better so yeah. You'll get your wish.

Avatar image for kraussndhouse
kraussndhouse

Seriously? 2 points off because games developed on 3DS and PS2 or earlier, don't look as good as a game on PS4? That is the worst negative I have ever seen on this site.

Avatar image for King_Wii
King_Wii

My PS4 is bricked at the moment... bad power supply or some such. However I picked up the collectors edition of this game because I'm an avid Dragon Quest fan. Thank you for this review and showing that I have one more reason to get my PS4 fixed asap. I think the toughest thing now is going to be waiting to play this game I only hope SquareEnix brings more DQ games to the states.

Avatar image for razik
Razik

@King_Wii:

I'm a huge Zelda Fan and felt the same about Hyrule Warriors until I played it, mediocre hack & Slash crap just like Dragon Quest Heroes

Should be rated 6

Avatar image for Renunciation
Renunciation

@King_Wii: Good luck with your PS4. This game is worth the wait, it's a lot of fun. Most enjoyable button-mashing I've experienced in a long time.

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Grampy_Bone

I'm getting this game because Yangus.

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bluefox755

Take my money! This brings back so much nostalgia, can't wait to pick it up.

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advocacy

This sets the bar for all future Dynasty Warriors games.

Avatar image for AtariKidX
AtariKidX

One more awesome game for the PS4....thanks you SONY.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@AtariKidX: A starving man would see a big mac as a steak.

Avatar image for Rushaoz
Rushaoz

@Bread_or_Decide: Wow. How salty of you.

Avatar image for RussellGorall
RussellGorall

A ton of PS4 fanboys on the Gamefaqs board are aiming for you to be fired, by the way. You didn't give it a good enough score based on your positives vs negatives.

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dranwarren

I really like the dragon quest series right now i am on 3 only left to defeat the archfiend and soon i will play all the others till 8 on my android phone

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PraisetheShat

I've been dying to play a Dragon Quest game for the longest time, ever since DQ8 on the ps2, which was one of my most memorable RPG experiences ever. It's a shame I never got a DS or a Wii to continue playing these games. I'm hoping Dragon Quest XI will be just as awesome.

Avatar image for Bexorcist
Bexorcist

What about fact that there's NO MULTIPLAYER WHATSOEVER??? The lack of great online coop/couch coop games on the PS4 is really killing me. How can a DW-clone not have coop? FAIL

Avatar image for rikku45
rikku45

I wan't to get this but I only know the characters from 6 and 7

Avatar image for deactivated-5c66a5fc40886

I never played Dynasty warriors and really wanted to get into Hyrule warriors at the time. It also got an 8 on eightspot ;). But a I failed. I failed hard.

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daybidcho

I was skeptical as I've played most of the Dynasty Warriors games and even Hyrule Warriors but I've been reading the reviews and it seems there are enjoyable RPG elements to the game with xp, gear, and monster coins.

I am definitely preordering this game now.

Avatar image for brandonmacleodE
brandonmacleodE

"Makes you wish a mainline Dragon Quest game looked this gorgeous". Excuse me idiot, give me one valid reason as to why that statement is not the dumbest negative point ever in the history of negative points. That's clearly not a valid thing that's bad with the game so can you please explain to me exactly why you think that's a valid point? The rating is not an 8/10 so clearly there must be some valid negative point somewhere or else you should give this game a 10.

Avatar image for simonbelmont2
simonbelmont2

@brandonmacleodE: I think you are the idiot here: the con listed in the review is obviously meant to be a joke. The game also got an eight which means "great" so the score is completely in-line with the review itself.

Avatar image for Lhomity
Lhomity

@brandonmacleodE: An 8/10 implies the game is "Great". Game review scores don't start at 10 and get reduced point-by-point on negatives. A game can be "Good", and still not have any glaring negatives. There isn't a team of mathematicians behind the scenes - just one person expressing an opinion.

Avatar image for amuricanpatriot
AmuricanPatriot

@Lhomity:

I don't necessarily agree with this. If a reviewer can't present any negative aspects of a game, then why should it not be scored a 10/10? Surely there must be some flaws to prevent someone from loving a game as opposed to merely liking the game.

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simonbelmont2

@Lhomity: Exactly, I find it odd that so many gamers have a hard time understanding this.

Avatar image for Orgodemir
Orgodemir

@brandonmacleodE: Guys I don't think they honestly took off points because it looks better than other Dynasty Warriors games. No game of this nature would be a 10. Let's just be real. Dynasty Warriors games get like 6s 5s and 7s if you're lucky and I still enjoy them. I know it's a niche, but I do. I do think they should have expanded upon the real negative points within the review and in the summary, however.

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Nakx123

Wtf kind of negative point is that? Game spot is really starting to become pathetic with their reviews.

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strrckshn

Makes you wish a mainline Dragon Quest game looked this gorgeous < Can you explain what this about. A Neg seriously.

Avatar image for YEPEE00
YEPEE00

Wow, I'm actually really looking forward to this one now.

Avatar image for obsidian_born
OBSIDIAN_BORN

Hyrule Warriors got boring real fast, even with characters that I absolutely love. This game doesn't look much different except it's set in a universe that holds no appeal to me. I will have to pass.

Avatar image for YEPEE00
YEPEE00

@obsidian_born: Yeah, Hyrule Warriors went grindfest Really fast.

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OBSIDIAN_BORN

@YEPEE00:

Incessant grinding is all the rage these days!

Avatar image for deactivated-5893d17ed65b4

All these sh!te Japanese shovelware games getting great reviews make xboners angry.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@Lacerz: Guess we can't have an article without somebody bringing in the console war anymore.

Avatar image for RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@xenomorphalien: I'm getting sick of it also. Especially when they're using games I enjoy as fuel on the fire :|

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@RSM-HQ: Yep.

Avatar image for deactivated-5893d17ed65b4

@xenomorphalien: It's not a war. Or a battle. Or a skirmish. Or a dispute. Or a competition. PS4 won at launch.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@Lacerz: To you, maybe.

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maximimon

@xenomorphalien: nope PS4 did win since launch

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@maximimon: In sales. I determine the "winner" that has the exclusives I want along with how much fun it is.

Avatar image for maximimon
maximimon

@xenomorphalien: sales are a fact however , the fun "exclusives" as you call them are an opinion , why all of the xbox exclusives seem rather boring to me thus making PS4 the winner going by your analogy, but like i said its an opinion.

Fact is PS4 is more succesful until now

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@maximimon: Well, duh. I don't really f=get in the console war (only to troll the fanboys). Like you said, its just preference.

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below More Info

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  • First Released Oct 13, 2015
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    Dragon Quest Heroes is a full-scale action RPG where players must rise up against insurmountable odds, challenging swarms of enemies and conquering gigantic monsters.
    6.9
    Average Rating38 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below
    Developed by:
    Koei Tecmo Games, Square Enix, Omega Force
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genre(s):
    Beat-'Em-Up, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes