Dragon Quest Treasures touts itself as a treasure-hunting RPG, though I’d safely say it fits into the action RPG and monster-collecting genre. However, it seems to otherwise have no connection to one of Dragon Quest’s main spin-off series, Monsters. While collecting a party of monsters to fight is a commonality, the action gameplay and treasure-finding aspect set it apart. In a way, Treasures is a prequel to the latest main title Dragon Quest XI, as you play as Erik (a main party member from XI) and his sister Mia as children. Truthfully, there’s only a minor connection, so this experience can be enjoyed entirely separately.
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After sneaking off-board their home ship with two flying creatures, Erik and Mia end up being swept away to a set of floating islands called Draconia. Said to be made of two deceased dragons and filled to the brim with treasure. You quickly come across various treasure-hunting gangs, and you soon after make a gang of your own. Your main goal in the game is to collect as much treasure as possible, while keeping an eye out for the Dragonstones, at the behest of your flying friends.
The game takes place across several open maps, featuring different biomes, monsters, quests, and gatherable items. You’ll even receive a treasure forecast showing what kinds of treasures are more common at the moment (before choosing where to go), and how likely you are to find some. This can be changed by replacing your party members with ones that favor the current treasure categories. On the field, the monsters you add to your party will sense out nearby treasure in a kind of hot-cold system, and when detected, you can use your compass to point in a vague direction. When close enough you’ll see a treasure vision per monster showing their point-of-view as to where the treasure is. Certain monsters have a better view than others, with some monsters seeing in black and white, or having their hat blocking most of the sight. There are also lower-value treasures that can be found simply by walking around. Some chests will be above ground, though these don’t count as your treasures instead giving you items. I’m a little miffed there aren’t any mini-medals in this game that I’ve seen, but I suppose that might’ve been a bit too much to add onto the list of collectables.
Each creature has a different holding limit, and can drop its treasure when attacked, giving you a limited time to retrieve it. Not long into the game, rival gangs will come looking for you when you’ve been on a map with treasure for so long. This will continue to happen with greater frequency the longer you have been exploring any given map, and I mostly just found the constant warnings a bit annoying (and the more times it happens, a stronger gang will show up). I was caught out a couple of times when the rivals appeared near a group of world enemies and we were quickly overwhelmed. Sometimes you may be on the offense and find the rival gangs to take their treasure, but you can end the fight early by grabbing their flag.
Back at your home base, you may display some of your prized treasures, tempting gangs to come to take them, so occasionally when you’re there you may be prompted to defend it. I feel like that disincentivizes people to display their favorite treasures for fear of losing them. It’s important to collect treasure as doing so gives experience, unlocks more of the game, and increases your limits for things like equippable medals (basically an equipment replacement found through various methods) and amount of recruited monsters. Once you’ve built up your base you can use the items you collect from both monsters and the environment to cook food or make pellets. I got through the entire campaign without using food as an item, but it does provide you and your party with respective buffs and resistances.
Combat involves your player character (you can interchange Mia and Erik when you please after a point), and up to three party member monsters at a time. The kids have a small melee combo, a dodge, and the ability to shoot pellets. You find – and can later craft – all kinds of pellets to inflict different types of damage, or even to heal your teammates. When I was in treasure dungeons I made frequent use of the MP restoring pellets, whereas out in the world I would simply rest at a campfire. There’s also a dragon meter that can be used to dish out a special attack from your monsters (which seems to hit a general area) or to temporarily buff your own character with greater attack and speed. Fighting has a few other components such as the ability to stealth attack, pickpocket, or unleash a combo with your monsters, though I personally couldn’t figure out how to do the latter on purpose.
Combat didn’t get too much more complicated than that but the dragon meter was helpful, as was the fact that sorting through your different pellets pauses the game. In both the Snarl, a location at your home base, and out and about, you’ll find treasure dungeons (also called monster nests) that aren’t terribly dungeon-y at all. Instead, they are round rooms where you fight off all the enemies, before moving to the next floor before it culminates in a boss fight. Speaking of bosses, I was very disappointed that two of the main story bosses looked very similar, and involved exactly the same mechanics, with the third one after that only having a slight change.
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Different monsters fit into particular fortes which are (mostly) traversal abilities, those being launch, glide, sprint, scan, and stealth. These are on a cooldown to prevent some abusing of the environment to get around as you please (though it didn’t stop me from trying to get wherever I could). I didn’t like having to swap out for a stealth monster to reach certain areas only accessible that way, as I felt not having the launch, glide and sprint set really limited my capacity to traverse the environment (especially in my least two favorite maps). Plus, it meant less time riding around on my Sham Hatwhich. While these fortes, different preferences for treasure, carrying capacity, and different move sets, all give you reasons to swap out your team. I stuck with the same three monsters for almost the entirety of my journey as I found the combination of their traversal abilities near essential (and I wasn’t going to drop out my healer). Meaning I found much more satisfaction in collecting various treasures rather than the monsters themselves.
You recruit your party members simply by defeating them in combat whereupon they may be impressed and head to the base to be employed. Buddy pellets may be shot at them to increase the chances of this. Every monster has a fee, comprised mostly of foraged items and favored meals. While you may stick with a familiar team, you can send out groups of monsters into the world on their own to hunt for treasure, which takes a certain amount of real-world time. This is especially useful to keep potential party members up to your current level, or easily get items without having to do so yourself.
Asides from the main story there are plenty of side quests (and daily ones), such as balloon hunting and restoring the various fast travel points with little fetch quests. Dispatched teams may spot rival gangs or metal monsters, giving you timed quests to find. So at any point in the game, I had a good to-do list for any map and didn’t solely focus on trying to find the best treasures there.
There are a couple of minor online features such as the ability to hide a replica of your treasure for others to find in their game. It states if the treasure is downloaded (noting about being found) the item will be increased in value, so presumably, there’s not much difference in making it easier or harder to find. You may send off your treasure to be shown at other bases but that requires someone to know your gang’s ID, if not a password. The treasure-hiding game is cute, but I would certainly keep the online features turned off when you don’t want to play it, so your treasure-hauling isn’t taken up with replicas.
Dragon Quest Treasure’s storyline itself is pretty basic, and if you’re yearning for any kind of backstory or development you’ll have to follow through on the side quests. Given the child protagonists and lower difficulty, this game seems aimed at an audience of children, at least ones that are old enough to read well and comprehend the systems. But the various different treasures featuring characters and items from all of the Dragon Quests games will appeal to fans of the series more. Even if seeing statues of characters from Dragon Quest X seems a bit mean. Most of the usual lines, humor, and charm is present, but I was a bit upset that the use of chimera wings no longer lifted you skyward, and thus no opportunity to bump your head.
Visually, the game is fine, with only a few less appealing textures around the place. I enjoyed the monsters that were given some changes to their design especially Shady and Shambles. There are obviously some cuts in presentation such as the stores in your base only being accessible through a menu, instead of having the option to walk there. Despite disabling in-game video capture, presumably to help, performance is still a bit of an issue. Even playing docked the frame-rate would chug or catch here and there, and pop-in of items close to you is frequent.
The music and sound effects all perfectly fit the image of the Dragon Quest series, mostly seeming to borrow tracks from other games. There is some voice acting, but it’s mostly just a few words per set of lines. Whereas the monsters themselves can get quite a bit chatty and I straight up refused to keep a robot on my team, lest I have to hear repeated vocal beeps. One re-used line Mia’s “I guess” was often used in odd places such as when she appeared more excited than how it sounded.
I managed to get through the campaign in twenty hours, even though I went out of my way to complete some quest chains. Thankfully there’s a decent post-game with more quest lines, and an endless dungeon you can challenge. While there are performance issues and lackluster bosses, I always treasure a game that encourages exploration and gives me plenty to do. Dragon Quest Treasures has some trash in the hoard but is a quality addition to the series.