So, I’m a huge fan of Monster Tamer games, and when I heard about a new game for Dragon Quest Monsters, my excitement levels hit the roof. But let me tell you, it didn’t start on the best note. I tried the demo, and it was bland with bad performance and no real intro. I almost gave up on it. But, fast forward a few weeks after the release and I decided to give it another shot. Now, after nearly 70 hours in, here’s my Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince Review
Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.
There are three major elements that I’d like to go over since I feel they are the main core of this game.
First, there’s world exploration where every area is divided into closed medium-sized maps. Here, you are free to roam around, and doing so will reward you with items and occasionally monster eggs or rare monster spawns like metal slimes.
Some of these are in areas that can only be reached in a certain season that keeps changing as time passes. So it’s worth revisiting the same map under different conditions.
You’ll also find monsters of different shapes and forms, and interacting with them leads us to the next major element of this game: the battles.
2. Monster Battling
Just like any other Dragon Quest game, the battles are turn-based, and my first interaction with it left me confused. When I pressed the “Fight” option, my monsters would auto-battle, doing all of the work for me. Soon enough, I noticed that you can give individual orders to each monster, giving me full control over my monsters.
However, if you battle in the Colosseum, there is no way to give orders, so you’ll have to rely on your monster’s Tactics option to win.
You can set a monster to “Have no Mercy”, meaning it’ll use its most powerful attacks every time. “Focus on Healing” to favor the choice of Healing Skills. And, “Support your Allies” to use support skills more often. Additionally, you can go into each skill of a monster and decide which one will be used more often.
Honestly, I used this system a lot even outside the arena. While it’s great giving orders directly, there’s a certain thrill in letting my monsters battle it out for me, making it close to a monster-taming simulator like Digimon Virtual Pet (which I love).
But, by now you must be wondering, “How do I get monsters to order around anyway?”. With something called scouting that’s available during battle.
Scouting can be very frustrating at times since every time you enter a new area, your chances for a successful scout are reduced until you beat the boss of that area.
Usually, the first thing I like to do when reaching a new place is to capture new monsters, but this game doesn’t let you do that, and it hurts the experience a bit. It actively forces you to revisit the same area after you beat it already just to scout new monsters.
I’d much rather have certain parts of the map to be cut off until you beat the big boss instead of a penalty on the scouting chances.
As for the battles you’ll face with your monsters during your journey, they can be very challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. But with the help of Synthesis, you can turn the weakest of Slimes into a beast that’ll make even a Big Boss tremble.
Unlocking this feature was what hooked me in. The point of Synthesis is fusing two monsters to make a stronger one. This happens due to a percentage of the parent’s stats being passed down to the child.
Also, you can choose to pass up to three individual talents from the parent, and half of any unused talent points will be passed down as well. This can lead to some powerful monsters early on if you take your time since a”talent” can contain several boosts or powerful skills.
Synthesizing is also a great way of getting higher-ranked monsters, and it was always fun to try different monster combinations. However, I started getting a bit frustrated when I couldn’t fuse A ranks and above alone and had to start looking up some online guides.
But still, even after synthesizing a powerful X-rank monster, I just decided to throw it aside and beat the last boss with 4 Liquid Metal Slimes, which was really fun!
Honestly, it was way more fun than all the work I had to do to make that X-rank monster. It took me about 3 hours to get every monster I needed, and I was using the Don Mole DLC that lets you scout any monster you have scouted before.
So, if you’re thinking about completing the Monsterpedia or competing online, buying the DLC, Mole Hole is almost mandatory. If not, enjoy yourself wasting your time synthesizing the same monsters over and over again.
Honestly, it’s a bit disgusting that it wasn’t part of the main game since it came out on day one. As for the other DLC, I won’t review them because I refuse to spend another dime.
Graphics and Visuals
You can see that this game was made on a budget. The graphics are subpar even for the Nintendo Switch standards. Still, I could overlook it if it weren’t for the abysmal performance in some areas of the game (even after the more recent updates). Releasing a game in this state should not be the norm.
Some might think that complaining about performance in a turn-based RPG is pointless, but we deserve better and should expect quality in a €60 game. The only redeeming factor is the characteristic Dragon Quest style. I have loved Dragon Ball since childhood, and the artwork of Akira Toriyama is always a pleasure to look at.
There’s probably not a single bad design in this game, although some of the 3D models don’t do it justice. I think it would stand out more if the characters had some sharper lines if that makes any sense!
Also, the several locations I visited were all neat. They all had different elements that made them stand apart from each other, and I can remember every place I visited vividly.
Story and Narrative (spoiler free):
While not the strongest element of this game, it did a good job of keeping me entertained.
It starts very simplistic since you’re just moving from place to place looking for the strongest guy to beat, and for a while, I had this sense that everything was disconnected.
But, as the story progressed, slowly it successfully connected everything. A ton of parts were too predictable, but others caught me off guard and felt the ending was satisfying.
However, it’s a story that it’s better not to give much thought to. If you do, a lot of inconsistencies will come up and ruin it a bit! Especially if you’ve played Dragon Quest IV before.
One thing that could’ve helped is having a stronger cast of supporting cast since the main character is a silent protagonist. Meaning, he alone wasn’t enough to drive the plot forward.
Replayability and Content:
Being a monster taming or creature collector game there’s a ton of replayability since there are more than enough monsters available to make every playthrough feel unique.
Even if you’re using the same monsters you can customize each one with any talent you want! Any monster can be an Attacker, a Supporter, or a Healer if you build it the right way. Although each of them has a role that’s better suited for them. But that won’t stop making you play the game the way you want!
Also, there are online battles that will have you spend hours building different teams to try out. However, as of writing this, there isn’t much variety since some strategies are so strong that make everything else feel obsolete. Also, beware that the PVP is very RNG-focused!
Performance and Technical Aspects:
Moving around can be a bit wonky, but no major bugs to report. Physics during platforming feels off, but hey, you won’t be doing that too often.
Performance can be a headache as mentioned, especially during heavy rain. FPS drops are real, making the game playable but not exactly pleasant. Battles always ran smoothly without any hiccups.
Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince is far from being a technical marvel but it does offer some strong monster-taming elements that will make any fan of the genre fall in love. From the addicting synthesis to the almost endless customization, you can add to each monster.
However, the performance and overall presentation drag this title down in my opinion. For a sequel, I hope they fix these issues and maybe tone down the RNG elements a bit. Spending 5 hours hatching monster-exclusive eggs isn’t what I call fun.
But battling, synthesizing, and exploring are, and these are the elements that I’d like to see just slightly tweaked next time!
So, with this said I’ll be closing this Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince review! Hope it helped you decide whether you’d buy it or not! Let me know your thoughts on it too!