You know that feeling when you’re playing a JRPG, and you suddenly happen across a monster that is pure nightmare fuel? I’m talking like a flying slug with a thousand eyes, or a snake with legs, or a penguin with four beaks. It just makes no sense; no evolutionary context could have birthed such a monstrosity, yet there it is, looking right at you as it comes to give your party a beat-down.
Now imagine you took that feeling and made an entire game out of it; that’s basically what Dragon Quest Tact is. This monster-based tactics gacha sees you collecting creatures to help you fight your way through the world, and while some of them are pretty cute, others are pretty darn crazy looking.
Not that crazy monsters is a criticism. If anything they make Dragon Quest Tact feel more distinctive, and add an element of fun to the gacha system, as you wait to see if you’re going to pull a fairly normal monster, or one that looks like a crime against nature.
But I digress. In Dragon Quest Tact you play as a human who’s been teleported to the world of monsters, your sole possession a mysterious baton that gives you the power to command the creatures, using them in battle, and recruiting them to your cause. You befriend Mindini, a cute creature who looks like a splice between clefable, a furby, and a bat, and together you set out into the world, searching for more info about the mysterious artifact.
This narrative mainly plays out in little cutscenes of fun (albeit cheesy) dialogue, interspersed with turn-based tactical battles. I was pretty impressed with the battle system, as you bring a party of five units, and use grid-based movement, attacks, and special abilities to outwit your monstrous opponents.
Sometimes when you win a battle, a monster from the opposing side will even join you
Dragon Quest Tact actually reminds me a lot of Fire Emblem: Heroes, as it has that hilarious intro where the characters who find you go: “Oh you’re a military strategist? That’s just what we needed!” The game’s early battles are also very easy in a similar way to Heroes. There’s even an auto-battle function, which I used to steamroll the initial battles that weren’t very hard.
This was partly because Tact gave me loads of rewards in the early game, and due to a repeatable pull on its gacha mechanic – called ‘scouting’ – I was able to get a team of five A-tier monsters who crushed most of what I came up against with ease. It does seem like difficulty increases quite quickly, though, so you’ll need to rank up your monsters to increase level cap, and level them to maintain a reasonable party CP.
Gaston, the flying messenger balloon dragon might genuinely be one of the most upsetting monsters I've ever seen. There are so many questions - was he always a balloon? Did he tie that basket to himself? And most of all: why is he not a Dark Souls boss?
There are plenty of ways to get what you need in Dragon Quest Tact, though, as you can convert gold to rank-up matierials, use Tact Points to swap for scrolls and items, and if you’re looking for a specific resource to rank a monster, Tact will show you a mission to get what you need. The only thing that’s a little harder to get is the gacha currency, gems, but they can still be earned through presents. Grinding for rewards to rank monsters is where the auto-battle function also comes in useful. But on the whole I found I had plenty of resources and monsters. Sometimes when you win a battle, a monster from the opposing side will even join you. If you already have this monster, it makes the pre-existing version more powerful – like how constellations work in Genshin Impact.
On the whole I found Tact pretty fun, and being someone who’s never played Dragon Quest before wasn’t a barrier for entry in any way. I actually think Tact is kind of refreshing, and it’s nice to see a monster-collecting gacha with retro vibes, rather than just another themed around anime-esque visuals. Though not usually the case with free-to-play mobile games, the cutscene dialogue is actually pretty well written, too, and Mindini even made me chuckle a few times.
Tact has a decent battle system, fun quirky characters, and though I suspect it might fall into the same late-game grind as most gacha beyond a certain power level, there are plenty of ways to get resources. Some of its systems are admittedly a little complex at first, but it doesn’t take long to get a grip on how ranks, levels, and abilities work, and the battle system itself is straightforward and well tutorialised. If tactics-based gacha is your bag, you could do a lot worse than Dragon Quest Tact.