A rambunctious, treasure-filled adventure with that classic DQ charm, Dragon Quest Treasures embraces the world of its predecessors perfectly, while still setting itself apart. Its mechanics are unique and engaging, it’s full of personality and charm, and, above all, it’s just great fun. A wonderful entry into a popular series for returning and new players alike.
I’ve spent many hours in Dragon Quest Treasures so far (though I’ve yet to complete it in its entirety), and the first thing I have to say is that I honestly haven’t had this much fun in a game for a long time. Reminiscent of other spin-off titles like Dragon Quest Monsters and Dragon Quest Builders, Treasures is a lighthearted adventure with that classic DQ humour and silliness that never fails to entertain. It’s familiar and comfortable for fans of the series and new players alike, yet still manages to set itself apart from its predecessors and establish its own sense of identity.
Dragon Quest Treasures begins with siblings Erik and Mia – two characters you should recognise if you’ve dipped your toes into the massively popular Dragon Quest XI. Much younger than their mainline counterparts, Erik and Mia live aboard a Viking Ship but are constantly sneaking off in search of adventure and – you guessed it – treasure.
One night, Erik and Mia slip above deck to find that the Vikings have trapped two unusual creatures in a cage. Using Erik’s trusty slingshot, you free the creatures, unveiling them to be a floating cat and pig. Pretty standard Dragon Quest stuff, to be honest. Hopping onto a small boat, you set out on the water until you come to a small island. There, you find two unusual glowing weapons called Dragon Daggers – one each!
After Mia and Erik take the Dragon Daggers, they gain the ability to understand monsters and the floating creatures that are accompanying them, who reveal themselves to be Purrsula and Porcus, two demigods of some kind. And from there, your adventure begins – you explore islands, gather treasure, and attempt to help Porcus and Purrsula get their paws (or trotters) on some very special stones.
The story is silly and fun, carried by lighthearted dialogue, exaggerated characters, mythology, and magic. It perfectly encapsulates the vibe of previous Dragon Quest games while also setting up its own world well enough that you don’t need to have played the previous titles to enjoy it.
I won’t dive any deeper into the narrative in this review as, for the most part, it’s inconsequential and far better explored for yourself. All I’ll say is that it’s fluffy and thoroughly enjoyable, with a focus on friendship, optimism, and helping others – pretty classic stuff. Just don’t expect anything groundbreaking in the story, as that’s truly not the point of the game.
When it comes to the gameplay loop, Dragon Quest Treasures finds a golden spot between simple and engaging, making it a perfect title to relax with for gamers of all ages. Like the Monsters spin-off title, Treasures sees Erik and Mia rely heavily on the monster pals they make along the way, and their imaginative skills, uses, and designs make for a great experience.
When heading out into the world, you can switch between Erik and Mia at your base (there’s no real benefit of choosing one over the other, as they level simultaneously). You also take a team of three monsters to assist you on your journey. They fight alongside you, give you access to special abilities, and help you hunt down treasure. When you slay an enemy monster, they have a chance of applying to join your gang, allowing you to later recruit them through Miss Cecily on your base island.
Monsters fall into different families, each with their own unique fortes and dragon attacks (kind of like TMs in Pokémon). Fortes are super handy abilities that help you in your exploration – for example, slimes have the launch ability which helps you jump to out-of-reach places, Sabrecats have the sprint ability which allows you to jump on their backs and ride them around for quick terrain traversal, and more.
Additionally, monsters help you locate treasure while out exploring, notifying you when it’s nearby. When you get close, you can use your Fortune Finder compass ability to see a vision of the treasure’s location through the eyes of your monsters, allowing you to track it down and dig it up.
Each island has a treasure forecast that changes regularly, along with a ‘golden ratio’ meter that makes treasure hunting that much easier. In order to take advantage of this, you have to align your monsters’ favourite treasures with what treasure types are predicted to show up on each island.
The combination of forte abilities and treasure forecasts encourages you to expand your barracks and rotate your monster team often, ensuring that you’ve got the companions with the right fortes and treasure preferences to get the job done. I generally try to keep a glide and a launch monster on my team at all times to help get around, then swap sprint and stealth in the third slot depending on what I need. It really makes team building a lot more interesting, and allows you to explore with a variety of different monster pals.
Your monster team also determines how much treasure you can carry before you have to head back to your base and get it appraised, with the capacity generally being higher on larger or high-level monsters. The appraisal process reveals what the treasure is and how much it’s worth. The value of your treasure increases your overall vault value, and the rank of your gang, offering more bonuses such as a higher monster capacity in your barracks and more expedition slots.
The treasures you find are absolutely delightful, and perfectly illustrate the silly, lighthearted nature of the game. With little nods to previous games, you can nab things like gachapon machines, figures of Dragon Quest characters, flying beds, swimsuits, and more. It’s always a joy watching them pop up on screen and putting them on display in your treasure vault – and sometimes monsters even polish your displayed treasures, increasing their value.
Your base begins to form a lovely little community as you progress, with your monsters hanging around doing little dances, your friendly colleagues working away on improvements, and new facilities opening up as you go along.
There’s a main set of story quests to follow, but you also pick up a lot of side quests along the way. There’s no rule as to how to tackle them, and no level caps on any location. Each island starts off with a selection of easy monsters to fight around the first train station, with enemies generally getting more difficult as you head further out. This allows you to explore the islands in whichever order you please, and puts the difficulty in your hands – if you want to play it safe, just tackle low-level monsters and hunt for treasure near the station. In contrast, if you want more of a challenge, you can run out into the tougher areas and test your mettle.
Dragon Quest Treasures combat is very interesting. As mentioned above, your monsters join you in battle, often fighting alongside you or taking down enemy monsters that target you. You can issue commands, unleash special attacks, or melee enemies with your dragon blade, but the real magic is in the pellets. Your trusty slingshot is your greatest asset (after your monster team), as you unlock a variety of pellets with a myriad of uses.
The pellets are essentially your spells in this game, with multiple options across a set of categories. There are physical damage pellets, elemental damage pellets, healing and buffing pellets you can use on your allies, and utility pellets that can stun or debuff your enemies. There are even buddy bullets which increase the chances that a monster will want to join your gang on defeat, though I’ve had little success with those.
This system is engaging and easy to use, with such a unique range of options that you can take down just about anything with a few well-chosen shots. It’s a fresh take on the tried and true combat rotation seen in other RPG games, and I really enjoy exploring it. Plus, the fact that battles are real-time action style as opposed to turn-based arenas makes zipping through the world and picking who to fight so much better.
There is one type of battle that’s pretty hard to ignore, however – the rival gang fights. If you’re running around with a pocket full of treasure, sometimes a rival gang gets wind of it and tries to take it from you. Your options are to Chimera Wing or choo-choo your way out of there, or hold tight and stand your ground. Luckily, they’re rarely much of a challenge, but it definitely enhances the sense of adventure and worldbuilding as you sit there watching the ‘rival gang approaching’ warning flash up on your screen, readying yourself for some dastardly dracky or sneaky slime to appear and try to steal your hard-earned rewards.
Of course, everyone falls in battle sometimes. If your monsters get knocked out in Dragon Quest Treasures, they drop all of the treasure they’ve gathered. To resurrect them you have to go over and hold down the revive button, and re-collect that treasure before someone else takes it. If you die, you reload at your last save point. Luckily, there are plenty of campfires dotted around the islands. Simply interacting with one triggers an autosave, and also gives you the option to rest until morning or evening, which restores your entire party’s HP and MP.
Controls in Dragon Quest Treasures are intuitive and comfortable, making playing in both handheld and on a Switch pro controller a treat. The UI is uniform and well-sized regardless of what type of screen you’re playing on, and everything is clear and easy to understand. Though there are lots of unique mechanics, the game presents them in a way that’s simple to grasp and adjust to, and there’s the usual tutorial compilation in the main menu if you ever need a refresher.
In terms of visuals, it’s a Switch game – so you do often see artifacting around the bold linework and some chunky textures if you look closely or have it hooked up to a high refresh rate monitor. However, the highly stylised artwork is gorgeous, offering a wonderful range of iconic monsters and characters recognisable from previous Dragon Quest games. It has a real sense of identity, with rich colours and cartoonish designs, and it’s always exciting to see different variations of the core monsters that inhabit each island.
The different islands each have a standard environment such as ice, desert, or volcano, which doesn’t do much to break the mould seen in many other games. However, the fact that the islands make up two dragons’ bodies is a truly unique and visually engaging concept, and makes for some very interesting terrain formations. There are also plenty of hidden locations that rely on specific monster fortes to access, and with treasures spawning randomly around the map, you’re given plenty of reasons to explore each island thoroughly.
Throughout my long playtime on the Switch OLED I’ve had no performance issues, stuttering, frame drops, or crashes. Everything runs like a dream, loading times are quick, and response times are snappy. It’s beautifully optimised, and an ideal game for the Switch.
In terms of music, the score is lovely, boasting beautiful orchestral renditions of many classic Dragon Quest tunes. This is great to see, considering the underwhelming soundtrack of Dragon Quest XI and the recent loss of the original Dragon Quest composer, Koichi Sugiyama. The majority of the dialogue in the game isn’t voiced, but characters often read a couple of words or say something that supports what they’re trying to convey, making it feel far more fleshed out than if they were to be completely mute.
The only issue I have with the audio is the overuse of monster voice lines. As you’re out exploring, your team chatters away alongside you, but unfortunately they appear to have very few lines of dialogue that loop far too often. I swear I’ve got ‘I’m feeling goo’ and ‘I’m jelly happy indeed’ tattooed on my brain after a few hours with a slime on my team and, while it’s initially cute, it certainly gets tiresome.
Unfortunately, turning off voices or muting your game removes the audio hints for treasure locations, which are a useful asset when sprinting around the world. But, for the sake of my sanity, I often found myself turning the volume down and paying extra attention to the visual cues instead.
Overall, Dragon Quest Treasures is exactly what I hoped it would be – it’s silly, it’s lighthearted, and above all, it’s fun. But, beneath its goofy puns, fluffy story, and cartoonish art style lies a surprisingly complex and well-designed system of mechanics that both embrace its predecessors and set it apart from the competition. Whether you’re a fan of the Dragon Quest series, are looking for something to tide you over until the next Pokémon game, or are simply on the hunt for a fun adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s something here for you.