The Dragon Quest series has been no stranger to spinoffs or offshoot titles since its debut in the 1980s. Dragon Quest Treasures is the latest game in DQ’s line of spinoff titles, this time taking place before the events of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. As a younger Erik and his sister Mia, players find themselves swept away into Draconia, an ancient collection of islands composed of the remains of two long-dead colossal dragons.
As intrepid up-and-coming treasure hunters, the twins find themselves among fellow pirates and wannabe treasure hunters upon their arrival to Draconia. The story in Dragon Quest Treasures doesn’t go out of its way to be anything particularly standout. Still, it does a good enough job of being intriguing while taking the time to set up a reason for Erik and Mia’s quest for treasure.
Composed of 5 main floating islands and a significantly smaller starting island, which acts as Dragon Quest Treasures main hub area, the player is tasked with restoring an intricate railway system which gradually allows travel between levels. Two familiars, which Erik and Mia free during the opening of the game and act as the game’s guide, explain and set up the main end goal of Dragon Quest Treasures, which happens to be hunting down seven legendary stones that, when reunited, can open up a path to even greater rewards.
Aside from sounding too close to Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest Treasure’s setup gives prospective players plenty to sink their teeth into. To make progress in the game, certain treasure thresholds must be met to find the whereabouts of said stones, which act as the main gameplay loop in Dragon Quest Treasures. Treasure can be found everywhere. Regular chests can also be found in the field, which act more like traditional RPG loot and generally contain consumables or pellets. However, only six pieces of treasure, which spawn as chests buried in the ground, can be held at a time. Dying or losing one of your recruited monsters during an encounter means potentially walking away with nothing.
Pellets are not only key to combat in Dragon Quest Treasures but also come in many varieties which can be used for passive effects such as healing allies, stunning enemies and so forth. Elemental pellets can also be crafted and are generally much stronger than using either Mia or Erik’s melee attacks.
“The story in Dragon Quest Treasures doesn’t go out of its way to be anything particularly standout.”
Combat is simplistic in Dragon Quest Treasures but still engaging due to the amount of different monsters that can join the player’s party. Monsters can be recruited by defeating enough of said species in any given area or by being coaxed with special pellets that increase the likelihood of being recruited. Monsters won’t join you outright. Instead, the player must then purchase them from the hub area via gold and whatever items they request, which can vary from monster to monster but can generally be found on the same map you encountered them in.
Your party in Dragon Quest Treasures is composed of either Mia or Erik and four other monsters, all of which feature some form of traversable ability outside combat. These moves make moving around the expansive biomes of the game more engaging and include things like a glider, a jumping ability, faster run speed and the ability to hide.
Treasure can also be found via treasure maps which open up mini-dungeons, which feel more like enemy wave encounters than traditional dungeons but nevertheless add some variety to the game. Erik and Mia’s dagger can be used as a magical dowsing rod pointing out the treasure’s direction. Monsters in your party are also sensitive to treasure. Holding the L and B buttons allows the player to see the general location of buried treasure when close to its general proximity.
“Dragon Quest Treasures is a unique game with very light roguelike elements in a surprisingly large, diverse set of levels that feel worthwhile to explore…”
The type of treasure you can expect to find changes depending on your party orientation or the kinds of monsters you have in your squad. Additionally, the player can send out their roster of monsters on time-based quests to gather additional resources and treasure in a manner similar to timer-based events found in some mobile games.
Outside the novelty of getting to display treasure found back in the hub area of the game, the actual loot in Dragon Quest Treasures feels somewhat flat and acts more as a quota that needs to be met to proceed further into the game. Easily, my favourite aspect of Dragon Quest Treasures comes in the form of its extended cast of characters, which all feature character designs which are worthy of DQXI proper.
Outside the main story that has you seeking the seven stones, Dragon Quest Treasures features a handful of side activities. These events include rival fights with other pirates, in addition to protecting your base from invaders (which feel similar to the waves of enemies that attack your homestead in Dragon Quest Builders), and even a multiplayer hide-and-seek mode.
Outside the fun, a few things get in the way, including repetitive sound bites and an uneven framerate, especially when facing larger bosses and groups of enemies in a small space. Ultimately, Dragon Quest Treasures is a unique game with very light roguelike elements in a surprisingly large, diverse set of levels that feel worthwhile to explore, particularly if you’re a fan of the source material.