Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Review – Monstrous Fusion
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is an invigorating addition to the esteemed Dragon Quest spin-off series. While the mainline games are celebrated for their stunning visuals and captivating narratives, the spin-offs typically present unique and enjoyable variations on the Dragon Quest theme. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince draws inspiration from the Pokémon franchise, focusing on collecting and battling monsters within a story that features an innovative progression system.
The narrative of Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, while not directly connected to previous titles, serves as a sort of prequel to Dragon Quest IV. Series enthusiasts will recognize the main character, Psaro, whose backstory of suffering and growing resentment towards humans due to their hatred sets the stage. Despite a transformative influence from his mother, Psaro is cursed by his father, the king of the underworld, which weakens him and incapacitates him from defeating monsters, thus kickstarting the central gameplay mechanic.
As a monster-recruiting JRPG, the game tasks players with exploring the world map to scout and recruit potential monsters for their party. The combat system sees Psaro commanding these monsters against various threats encountered in the world. The overarching aim is Psaro’s quest for vengeance against his father, giving the story a focused yet somewhat filler-like feel. The narrative lacks compelling developments in the game world, but the engaging gameplay mechanics largely compensate for this.
Playing Dragon Quest IV is not a prerequisite for understanding the story of Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince, as it stands as a fairly independent narrative. However, those familiar with Dragon Quest IV will find added enjoyment in recognizing cameos and familiar characters from that game. The story, centered on a protagonist seeking revenge, is infused with the distinctive charm of the Dragon Quest series, avoiding an overly dark tone. It includes humorous interactions, light-hearted banter, and the beloved monsters known from previous entries in the series.
The combat system in Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is straightforward. Players can command their monsters to attack or defend and assign them specific roles for either action. The central gameplay involves scouting monsters for recruitment during combat, primarily using the scout command. However, this action doesn’t always guarantee success; a failed attempt can result in the monster becoming enraged and more powerful. Successful recruitment of a diverse party allows players to progress through the story, exploring various dungeons and participating in tournaments.
The game’s appeal largely lies in its monster-catching system. It features a vast variety of monsters, each bringing unique strengths to combat scenarios. Recruiting tougher monsters can be challenging, but the game gradually reduces this difficulty. The scouting process doesn’t always provoke the monsters, but the likelihood of successful recruitment remains relatively low, adding a layer of unpredictability to the gameplay. This randomness, coupled with the ability to use items to increase recruitment chances, makes for an engaging experience. Ultimately, the key to success is building a strong and versatile party.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince significantly expands its gameplay possibilities with the introduction of a monster synthesis system. This system allows players to fuse two monsters that have reached a certain level, resulting in a new, more powerful monster with specific desired attributes. Some monsters can only be created through this fusion process, making it a crucial strategy for assembling a formidable party. As monsters gain experience and level up from battles, they earn talent points that can be allocated to enhance their stats or learn new skills. This system not only enables diverse monster party configurations but also encourages experimentation with different builds. However, it’s important to note that once a decision is made, such as a stat allocation or monster fusion, it cannot be reversed, adding a strategic layer to each choice.
For players who enjoy the mechanics of recruiting and fusing monsters, coupled with traditional turn-based combat, this game will be particularly appealing. Although the combat system may seem somewhat simplistic, it effectively supports the game’s progression, continuously offering new monsters to recruit and experiment with. I found the exploration of the world map and the pursuit of the ideal party composition to be particularly addictive. While the story may not be the game’s strongest point, the gameplay itself is the standout feature of the experience.
One notable drawback of the game is its performance and visual quality. The game’s presentation falls short of expectations, especially when compared to titles like Dragon Quest XI. It suffers from low-quality textures, an uninspired world design primarily populated by monsters, and subpar frame rates. Visually, it seems to be only a marginal improvement over the 3DS entries and lacks the polish seen in other Dragon Quest spin-offs such as Builders, Heroes, and Treasures. This lackluster graphical execution, along with a somewhat underdeveloped story, constitutes my primary criticisms of the game.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Enix
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher