Dragon Quest Treasures is a cozy RPG that offers something a little different
It was hard to get a gauge on Dragon Quest Treasures before its release late last year. What originally started as a new Dragon Quest Monsters title, as revealed all the way back in 2018, apparently changed course at some point along the way to become something else. It's actually somewhat tricky to describe what sort of sub-genre Dragon Quest Treasures fits in now, because it's surprisingly not like much else.
Treasures is ostensibly an action RPG, but doesn't quite fit the sort of focus or structure you would typically expect in that category. The focus isn't really on the combat, and honestly, the RPG components are not at the forefront either. Treasures is mostly about exploring, and the Monsters DNA is still readily apparent, as you'll team up with classic Dragon Quest baddies like Orcs, Drackys, and Slimes to explore Draconia seeking treasure.
Paige reviewed the Switch release last year, and she goes into more detail describing the game's quaint style and structure. She praises how the game encourages exploration while wrapped in a light-hearted atmosphere suitable for a children's show. As a primarily PC player, I opted to wait for the inevitable port, which shadow-dropped on Steam earlier this Summer. (Generally speaking, Square Enix should stop with the timed exclusives, but that's an argument for another time. I'm also not 100% certain why it had to be a shadow drop and couldn't be announced even slightly beforehand).
The PC port is actually pretty solid overall, and better than I expected for a relatively simple and low-profile game. The game supports 120+fps or uncapped framerates, and there are options for antialiasing, shadows, textures, foliage, reflections, & bloom. It's even Steam Deck compatible since launch, so you can still play the game on the go, even if you don't want to play on Switch. Of course, nobody would have expected a PC port of a Switch game to have any trouble running on modern PCs, and it doesn't, but Dragon Quest Treasures is a notch more than just a simple port, somehow.
The game generally looks and runs great on high-end machines, and more modest builds should have no trouble either, with the only real blemish being the few low-resolution pre-rendered movies clearly meant for Switch. It's a competent effort, which you can't always say about Square Enix.
What I like most about Dragon Quest Treasures is that there is no main questline you can beeline or stray from. Unlike many RPGs that separate <main story> and <side quests>, Treasures basically just says "go explore, find treasure!" as a broad guideline. Outside of the tutorial zone, you don't even have to visit the four main zones in any particular order. You're not given a direction to go off in, you just need to explore, find NPCs, complete sidequests, and find treasure. There's a very laid-back and hands-off approach the to entire premise, which I honestly greatly appreciated. The world design is surprisingly satisfying, scratching that itch for wanderlust and as a collect-a-thon.
To progress through the story and beat the game, all you need to do is find all the Dragonstones, which might be tucked away in the deep reaches of the marshland, or guarded by a fearsome foe. Once you find all seven, you can go fight the final boss and clear the game, which can easily be done in less than 20 hours. Or you can just explore for more treasures and sidequests.
For Dragon Quest series fans, there's a lot of nostalgia for the franchise throughout, especially in the more-than 700 treasures you can find. It is sort of amusing, however, and sad, to see a bunch of Dragon Quest X characters reflected in the numerous Hero Statues scattered throughout.
If I were to grade Dragon Quest Treasures on a more typical (and hypothetical) rubric, it probably wouldn't score very well. The combat is overly simple, the underlying RPG mechanics are excessively thin, and the front-to-back story is generally nothing (though narrative rigor is clearly not a focus to begin with). But there's simply a relaxed charm to it all.
Dragon Quest Treasures is perhaps not a stellar game all things considered, but I still appreciated a light-hearted, relatively short, cozy RPG that shuts up and lets me play. It's charming, it's cute. Sometimes I need a break from the 80+-hour dramatic world-ending epic RPGs, and Dragon Quest Treasures was a nice reprieve from that.