Dragon Quest Treasures is digging up fortune and fun - Preview

In a long line of Dragon Quest spinoff titles, Dragon Quest Treasures will be the latest. Unlike many other spinoffs that never left Japan, this one is thankfully not only getting a western release, but a simultaneous worldwide one. It features one of the party members from Dragon Quest XI, Erik, as a child. Making this a prequel of sorts, as he sets off on an adventure with his sister Mia. After following a pair of flying creatures, the two end up in a treasure-filled sky-bound archipelago called Draconia.

In my experience with Dragon Quest Treasures so far, I played through the start of the game, as you go through the basics, meet various rival characters and up to when you start building your treasure-hunting base. The name of the game is collecting treasure, but to do that you’ll also collect monsters. These monsters are found out in the field and can be impressed by being defeated, whereupon you can recruit them back at the base. There is a plethora of gatherable materials, which for now are just used as the recruitment fees for the monsters to join. Based on item descriptions, it looks like I’ll unlock cooking later on in the game.

Playing as either Erik or Mia, you’ll assemble a party of up to three monsters who assist in combat and treasure hunting. Unlike traditional Dragon Quest titles, the combat is action based with limited options so far, having a melee attack with a small combo string and a dodge. You’re also equipped with a slingshot that requires pebbles. This ammo comes in various types including a healing one to use on your allies. Talking to an NPC, I learned I can also dish out sneak attacks, or steal materials from monsters, but I found it hard to do if my party was close to me. Asides from being used to collect materials and monsters, it seems there'll be plenty of fights against the rival treasure-hunting gangs. I got to experience one of these battles where I ended it sooner by taking their flag out of the ground while the enemy was distracted.

Your monsters are helpful in other ways such as having specific fortes, which are abilities (mostly traversal-focused) based on a typing system. Slimes give you a jump boost and my Dracky gave me the ability to glide. Most importantly, you can ride the Sham Hatwich, which thanks to this game I’ve since learned that they are not pigs with cool hats, instead they are talking hats possessing pigs. One thing I noticed in combat is that I can use the monsters' traversal abilities, though they will temporarily leave the fight.

Most importantly, your companions can sniff out treasure. When you get close enough you can use your senses to point in the general direction, and you’ll receive treasure visions from each of your party members. These are all different points of view of the treasure's location and look different based on the monster, such as the Dracky seeing only in black and white, and some others having a much more limited vision. From there you must deduce the location and dig it out yourself, before hauling it to your base for valuation.

I’m really enjoying the character design, of course, most all the monster designs are already established. The rival gangs, however, have different themes, and I especially enjoy the very punk-looking pirates. A couple of the monsters in that crew had a special appearance to match (and though unlikely, I desperately want to recruit them). Only playing the early part of the game, I haven’t felt too much in terms of charm and character but I did catch an Ork stacking apples onto his spear to eat, so it seems the Dragon Quest touch is still there.

So far the game environments range from decent to fairly basic, though of course far away areas look a bit off. Since the game takes place in various separate open areas, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The music sounds very much like any other Dragon Quest game, so far, and is accompanied by traditional sound effects and jingles. Unfortunately, the voice acting in the game is minimal, with most characters saying but a piece of their written dialogue.

I’m looking forward to digging more into treasure hunting and expanding on my adventure. So far I’m hoping the combat will develop a bit more, but I have enjoyed combing the land.

Dragon Quest Treasures releases for Nintendo Switch on December 9.