Analysis of Dragon Quest Treasures, a charming twist


An adorable Kitten Shield smiles at me from my latest treasure. The local appraiser, indifferent to its lovely design, may say it’s not worth much, but that only means I can proudly hang it in my vault: it’s not the most valuable piece of my treasure, but I still look down on it with satisfaction. That Kitten Shield is an apt metaphor for Dragon Quest Treasures as a whole: it’s nowhere near the most expensive jewel in Dragon Quest’s crown, but its laid-back structure, enchanting world, and endless stream of rewards make it a relaxing RPG worth admiring.

Treasures stars Erik, your fellow thief from Dragon Quest XI, and his sister Mia, but it takes place long before the luminary entered their lives, when both petty pickpockets were living with a band of marauding Vikings. After finding a flying pig and a talking cat (just like you), Erik and Mia fall through a magical portal to another dimension, which means they nothing they do or see is related with the established story of Dragon Quest XI, but that’s fine for a game filled with constant meta-references to the saga as a whole.

The portal takes Erik and Mia to Draconia, a world where dragons turned people’s hopes and memories into treasures and kept them safe, each of them in the form of objects and characters from the history of Dragon Quest. The dragons are long dead, but their body parts now make up the half dozen regions that make up Draconia, though I promise in a way that’s more cool than gruesome. For example, Draconia’s wings are home to windswept wastelands, while frigid mountains and icy caves make up its shoulder, aptly named The Cold Shoulder.

Your overall goal here is to build a base for your fledgling band of treasure hunters using the money you earn from finding loot, all while helping your cat and pig guides restore their gods to good favor. Hoarding treasures is essential in all your endeavors, but the shiny prizes you’ll find are more than just a slice of Dragon Quest nostalgia. You are restoring something—dreams, connections, and purpose—that the people of Draconia (and even your rival treasure hunters) thought was lost forever, albeit indirectly. Meanwhile, the regional train director doesn’t care if you find some armor from Dragon Quest V or a statue of the priestess from Dragon Quest X, but he’s happy when your efforts get his beloved train stations back up and running, making exploration easier. of Draconia in the process.

Treasures never gets to exploit the full potential of its story.

This alternate reality setting gives Treasures the freedom to try something different with your story, which only manages to capitalize partially. Everyone, monster and human alike, is obsessed with finding treasure for the sole reason that it exists, and while that seems like a shallow foundation for any story, the one told here tiptoes through some pretty thorny topics. . At its core, Treasures is an escape from childhood fantasy, a chance for two orphans to leave their abusive home, have fun and find a life away from the problems of growing up and adults unable to care for them. In this sense, it seems like a meeting between Dragon Quest and JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, which is surprising but not unfortunate as a source of inspiration.

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Draconia is the Neverland of the brothers, to the point that one of the duo’s main opponents is a nefarious pirate, albeit of the skeletal variety rather than the old men with hooks. Like the Lost Boys of the Neverland, time and society have also forgotten the inhabitants of Draconia, or at least the ones they befriend at the former headquarters of the Transdraconic Railroads, where Erik and Mia are based. It’s heartwarming to watch you create a surrogate family of misfits and monsters at the railroad headquarters, a support group for Erik and Mia, and a safe place to return to. For those familiar with the story of Dragon Quest XI, Erik and Mia’s sad and broken future (broken, ironically, by the same obsession with treasure that fuels this adventure) always hangs over their heads, adding a touch of sadness to a otherwise happy story for the most dedicated fans.

Unfortunately, Treasures never quite gets to exploit the full potential of the story like it could, since he barely delves into any of his topics after presenting them for the first time. Erik and Mia’s characters don’t develop over the nearly 30-hour campaign, and their relationships with most NPCs aside from a few are limited to interactions that end with whatever quests you’ve been asked to do. that you complete How much you get out of Treasures’ story and characters will depend on how interested you are in the idea of ​​revitalizing the hearts and minds of this world, since you never witness the results of those efforts. It’s hard not to see Treasures as a missed opportunity in that regard, which with a little more depth and detail could have been something special and more meaningful.

Between meeting new people and contemplating your treasure, you will take Erik or Mia on an expedition to one of the Draconia islands to see what you can find and convince other monsters to join the hunt. Once you get to these wide open areas, you will have quite a bit of freedom to decide what you want to do and when. You can run to a rival treasure hunter’s base and steal his treasure, search for ancient monuments or persuade Queen Slime to help you restore the Cold Shoulder Train Station, or just ignore it all and find more treasure.

His charm helps keep the routine fun for dozens of hours.

The main mission focuses on recover ancient artifacts, but it often gets pushed to the background by the many additional requests you get from friendly monsters and fellow treasure hunters. While it’s easy to get bogged down with the number of objectives (and the horizon fills up with quest markers sometimes), the advantage of having so many quests is that you’re always getting something done, even if those quests are just variations on finding certain resources. An emissary from the local princess might need help finding an ancient monument on the other side of the dragon’s belly. Getting there is a long walk, but along the way you can pick up dirt to craft more buckshot ammo to use in your next battle and pick up a few rare stones to help fuel the next broken down train station that needs to be restored.

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Whatever you choose, you will always be encouraged to hunt for treasure to grow your base and unlock new main missions. You have an innate treasure compass that tells you the general direction of rare goods (because, of course, you do), but it goes haywire when you get too close. That means you have to rely on your fellow monsters’ treasure vision to locate the goods, with visual clues based on your own line of sight. For example, slimes can only see from the ground, while a Sham Hatwitch’s vision is obscured by his own hat. It’s a lovely, typical Dragon Quest twist on what would otherwise be a repetitive minigame, and combined with the little rising jingle that plays when you dig up treasure, it helps the routine remain fun even after dozens of hours.

None of the tasks you’re given are very complex, but it helps that Treasures and its treasure hunt appeal to the lizard part of my brain that lights up after finding something shiny, solving an easy puzzle, or checking a task off the list. Does it matter if my base value increases substantially or if I unravel the mysteries of Draconia? No. But putting a piece of Dragon Quest history on a socket at home and making a fictional train-loving robot happy for a few minutes is enough for me. The low-pressure, low-risk nature of what you’re doing and the constant trickle of accomplishments give Treasures a feeling of comfort which makes it easy and enjoyable to work with, even if you don’t always see world-changing effects as a result of your work.

Treasures passively encourages you to take your quests and treasure hunts in small doses limiting the amount of treasure you can carry, which means you have to revisit your base at intervals and take a break from missions. While there’s a lot going on at HQ, this intentional limitation can feel a bit arbitrary and annoying, as if Square Enix had something bigger planned that never came to fruition. You have daily missions similar to what you’d expect from a live service game, but they play little part in your routine and offer paltry rewards. In theory, you can also build and upgrade your base, though upgrades are limited to a handful of shops that you can only access through the company front desk.

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The battles are quite simple and are focused on the search for treasures.

Despite taking inspiration from the monsters in Dragon Quest, Treasures isn’t so much concerned with you building an unstoppable team of creatures as more with you exploring with them, which perfectly complements the emphasis on item collecting. The battles are also relatively simple and focus on your teammates’ treasure-finding and other abilities. Each monster you take with you has a set of preferred treasures that they are most likely to discover during expeditions, and a species-specific ability called Forte: abilities like gliding or sprinting that make traveling easier or help you reach difficult places. Each region is fairly simple in structure, with few exciting layouts or well-hidden secrets, and are built around using specific abilities to find treasure and rare items. As bland as the designs may seem, the simplicity can be welcome at times, as it makes backing up and avoiding hostile mobs much more bearable.

When you enter combat, you play a passive role, helping to deal damage with your slingshot’s pellets or healing your monster friends. You have no control over their actions and can only give them basic attack and collection orders., but the monster AI is thankfully quite adept at figuring out the best way to deal with them. Slimes and Drackys work together to create elemental combos, tougher monsters like Restless Armor cast their defensive spells at the right time, and everyone balances their attacks to conserve MP.

There’s potential here, too, for something else that makes fuller use of these features: deeper battles with an emphasis on creating combos and finding the right combination of monsters. Nevertheless, Treasures prioritizes lightness, without need or reward for thinking and taking care of the composition of your team. This is not pretty at all, especially since these fights are quite fun. It’s shocking to see what seems like so many plans thrown out, and such a lack of clear direction is highly unusual in a Dragon Quest game.

Dragon Quest Treasures is a light and charming version of the classic RPG saga. Instead of challenging battles and complex campaigns, it offers a beautiful fairy tale of two orphans who find riches, build a new family, and bring happiness to a weary land. It’s impossible to ignore the wasted potential of a more nuanced story and more thoughtful combat than could have been, but the relaxed pace and steady stream of rewards still make Treasures a satisfying RPG.