Dragon Quest Heroes is a fun action role-playing game that sees the massively popular Japanese franchise step away from traditional turn-based battles, replacing the combat with something more akin to the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Only question is, why isn’t there a co-op mode? In fact the game not having a co-op mode is utterly bewildering

With DQH this isn’t a case like Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma where a co-op mode would have been nice thus adding to an already solid game, DQH is a game that’s practically screaming out for it! Every time I fire the game up I can’t help but think that developer Omega Force forgot to put some kind of multilayer mode in. It really is quite bizarre.

Grumbling aside, DQH is a fantastic game. Akira Toriyama’s consistently superb art direction, music and traditional sound effects from the Dragon Quest games are all in place, which immediately cements a sense of familiarity for anyone who’s dabbled in the franchise before. It may have lifted its combat from the Warriors series, but everything else about the game stays faithful to the Dragon Quest franchise and it’s the many RPG elements that sets DQH apart from the hack & slash world of Dynasty Warriors. Statistics, equipment, magic spells, and special abilities familiar to the Heroes franchise are all present, with Omega Force then effortlessly applying it to the gameplay formula the developer specialises in. The moment you begin a new game you’ll can’t help but be impressed by how seamlessly it all works. Omega Force should give out lessons on how to merge video game genres because there are quite a few developers who could use the knowledge.

Story wise DQH is  pretty straight forward and simplistic with very little to gets ones teeth into but like Warriors, DQH is about pick-up-and-play appeal, (which it has bags of), and not being thrown into a complex and overreaching story arc. Like the original Dragon Quest RPG titles, DQH focuses a lot on characterisation more than the actual story, moving events along at a relatively brisk pace which makes the game feel more in tune with the frantic, Dynasty Warriors styled combat.

 

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Aside from the main protagonists, (new characters Aurora and Luceus), as the story unfolds characters from the Dragon Quest franchise make them self known and join you in your quest to ‘save the world’ as it were and so you can take up to three of these additional fighters out with you on each mission, with each of them sporting their own move-set, special attacks, and equipment. With a simple press of the L1 button you can switch between any one of these characters in real-time thus adding a tactical edge to the proceedings at higher levels while also allowing you to sample each characters unique traits and abilities. Rather wonderfully just as you think you may have discovered your perfect mix of comrades to take on a mission a new one will appear which goes a long way in keeping things fresh and challenging.

Combat comes down to a series of standard button presses, building upon basic combos which sees you pushing square numerous times with more powerful attacks being mapped to the triangle button. L1 is to block and R2 is evade, although in the early parts of the game its unlikely you’ll use these very often; their importance comes into play much later when things begin to get a lot tougher. As the game moves through to higher levels of difficulty the ability to switch between characters whilst having an understanding of each of their combos and how best to utilise them will more often that not garner success in the field as opposed to just blindly bashing the buttons. Each party member also has their own finishing move which is activated by entering a state known as ‘High Tension’ and are not only spectacular to behold they’re ideal for taking down boss monsters. During this mode, and before unleashing a devastating finisher, you’re character becomes faster, deals more damage and in return can take a lot more of a pounding.

 

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The main adventure works from a hub area that houses everything that you need; shops to sell and buy & repair equipment, an alchemist for crafting new items, a general store for buying potions and the like and of course an area to save your quest on completion of each new area.  Alongside the main story missions you also have a world map which allows you to select new locations as well as go back over areas that you’ve already visited in order to ‘grind’ your character(s) level. There is also a series of challenges on offer that on completion unlocks new items and treasure.

With its superb presentation, instantly accessible gameplay and satisfyingly punchy combat, Dragon Quest Heroes is unquestionably one of Omega Force’s most polished productions to date. Even after you’ve finished the main quest there is enough enjoyment and content to be found in DQH that will you keep coming back for more. While every other developer/publisher out there is currently determined to place everyone of there latest titles in a bleak, post apocalyptic setting, Omega Force instead gives us a collection of beautifully animated, colourful characters dropped in an equally charming world of lush, rolling landscapes and clear blue skies.

Even if you’re not a fan of Dragon Quest or Dynasty Warriors as a rule I’d still confidently recommend this joyous little game for winding away a few hours on a quiet Sunday afternoon. You never know, you just might be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer. Just a shame that Omega Force didn’t think to put in a co-op mode.