Dragon Quest Treasures is this entirely new sort of spin-off for the Dragon Quest series. Tapping into Dragon Quest XI, it pulls younger versions of the thief Erik and his sister Mia as they go off on a search for, well, treasure. Early promotional materials suggested an action-RPG with exploration on various islands. However, in my first few hours with the game, I also was delighted by how often it reminded me of the Dragon Quest Monsters series.
Part of it hit me before the game even began. I mean, this is a TOSE project, and the company also worked on games like Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker and its sequels, and Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry’s Wonderland 3D. So coming in, I had that hit of nostalgia. The fact that we have two child protagonists working alongside monsters they recruit? Well, it left me with high hopes.
Once I started Erik and Mia’s journey, those vibes continued. Dragon Quest Treasures taps into XI’s lore by featuring the siblings on a pirate ship. The two are desperate to go adventuring on their own and scoring a big haul. People begin by helping Erik meet Mia on the upper deck. There, they happen upon two strange, flying monsters that resemble a cat (Purrsula) and pig (Porcus). Erik uses his trusty slingshot, a mechanic both children will use both in and out of battle going forward, and sets the two free. The quartet then finds themselves seizing the opportunity to find the treasure they desire in Draconia. (It also means a shift to Mia as a protagonist.)
Once the crew headed to Draconia, I found that Dragon Quest Treasures right away manages to feel both like an entirely new sort of spin-off and a take on the Monsters series I played for years. Once Mia lands, she almost immediately befriends a cute-slime. This offers an introduction to treasure hunting. Monsters in your party can share visions with Erik or Mia due to the power of the dagger. When near the spot, you’ll see treasure thought bubbles above their heads, and the one-to-three images showing the location of the item from different angles and perspectives appears in the upper left corner. (Depending on the species, the vision will differ, so for example a Dracky apparently only sees in black and white.) When you get close, the spot glows and you get a chance to dig it up.
Once the treasure hunting mechanic is established, Dragon Quest Treasures starts giving players a chance to enter battles, and again it made me nostalgic for Dragon Quest Monsters. In this Dragon Quest spin-off, Erik or Mia fight alongside their monsters. They can wield their daggers to fight or use their slingshots to shoot pellets that hurt enemies, heal or buff allies, or even increase the chances of a monster wanting to join you once a battle is won. Your up to three monster allies will automatically fight alongside you, though you can also direct them with D-pad commands like “Go, go, go!” There’s this sense of teamwork and collecting that’s even present early on, which is a pleasant callback to the other series.
Also, something that’s come through in Dragon Quest Treasures early on is the sense of personality that Dragon Quest spin-offs like Monsters, Rocket Slime, and Builders possess. When Oozaella the she-slime joins your party, she rocket slime barrels into a locked door. When you use monsters’ special abilities to jump and glide through areas, it makes them feel unique. When you use the vision to see where treasures are through monsters’ eyes, each one “sees” the location in its own way.
Dragon Quest Treasures feels like it is doing its own thing early on, but still reminds me of the Monsters spin-off series. There’s still more I need to see and do, of course. But what it’s accomplishing so far is encouraging.
Dragon Quest Treasures will come to the Nintendo Switch on December 9, 2022.