Friday, 25 August 2017

REVIEW: Dragon Quest Heroes II (PS4)

Originally written on May 29th 2017, never published

If you’re a fan of the Dragon Quest or Dynasty Warriors series, you’ll probably be familiar with Dragon Quest Heroes, the hack-and-slash spin-off from Square Enix and Omega Force. It’s recently received a sequel – appropriately named Dragon Quest Heroes II – and it’s a hoot.

In the original, you assumed the the role of either Aurora or Luceus, depending on what gender you preferred playing as. Dragon Quest Heroes II is no different in this respect, giving you the choice of either Teresa or Lazarel, two cousins who team up to restore order to seven nearby kingdoms who have waged war with one another.

Along the way, you meet several different characters from the mainline Dragon Quest games who join your party and pledge to help you reunite the kingdoms to save the continent.

An enormous difference from the first Dragon Quest Heroes game is that you’re no longer navigating an overworld map and selecting the levels you’d like to play – it’s now more open-world based and feels much more like a Dragon Quest game.

You move your party through many different environments packed with hundreds upon hundreds of enemies and this is where the hack-and-slash gameplay comes to life. There are multiple combo moves that you can use in quick succession to whack enemies senseless and stack up immense damage. It’s incredibly fun to watch the hit counter rise well into the hundreds.

Like the original, you can summon monsters to fight for you or provide buffs using Monster Medals which are dropped by ones you defeat. A big change however is that you can now transform into different monsters for a few seconds, dealing massive amounts of damage.

It’s possible to change which party member you control during battles. Each character wields a specific type of weapon such as an axe or a sword and possess their own unique move set relating to that weapon type. Skill points are accumulated from battling enemies and can be spend on new abilities for each member.

The game also introduces Party Powers, which are skills and abilities the whole team can use. These range from HP buffs to moves that target specific enemy types and are incredibly useful, especially if you’re in a tight spot and need that extra boost.

As if pummelling armies of monsters wasn’t enjoyable enough, each party member can also perform a devastatingly powerful move known as a coup de grâce once the corresponding meter fills up enough. These coup de grâces are accompanied with epic cutscenes which show the character dealing tremendous area-of-effect damage which are nothing short of impressive.

The biggest downside to the game II is that it can feel repetitive after a while. While the new improvements are welcomed with open arms, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you’re experiencing the same things time and time again especially with the combat. It’s okay for the first few hours but it can become tiresome quickly since it’s just more of the same with nothing to shake it up.

There is also a multiplayer mode new to the game and involves powering through dungeons with either friends or strangers. Although fun at first, it can quickly start to become bland as there’s little in the way of variety and again, is very repetitive.

While Dragon Quest Heroes II is a step-up from the original, it still holds its flaws. But this isn’t to say it’s a bad game by any means: the combat in the beginning is a delight to engage in, each character offers a unique play experience and the ability to control monsters is brilliant. If you’re a fan of hack-and-slash or Dynasty Warriors titles, you’ll no doubt get some enjoyment out of the game, just be wary that you could find it becomes repetitive after a few hours.

Dragon Quest Heroes II is out now for PlayStation 4.

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