It may not be exactly evident, given the nature and name of the game, but Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is technically a Warriors/Musou game. Developed by Omega Force, the main goal of the title is to tear things up. Beat down as many enemies as you possibly can, go spend the money you’ve earned on new equipment, maybe change up your party and head out to fight more foes. It’s an endless cycle interspersed with exposition. The story pops up every once in a while to give an excuse for why the characters are fighting, but it’s really about the barrage of button mashing. How fitting is it, then, that one of the heroes seems perfectly attuned to the beat’em up player’s mindset?
I chose to play as Aurora in Dragon Quest Heroes because she’s the chick. I have lady bits and spent 30 years forced to play as dudes in games. If a title gives me the chance to be someone who looks a little more like myself, I take it. Imagine my delight when Aurora not only shared my gender, but also my tactical approach.
When offering the opportunity to choose a playable character at the start of the game, very little information is provided. You see their gender and appearance, of course, and are given a hint at their personalities. Aurora seems to be someone who acts on impulse and emotion, while her male counterpart, Luceus, is more analytical and strategic. But it isn’t until the opening moments that we see how closely her demeanor mirrors most Warrior players’ mentality. While playing a carnival game at a fair in Arba, the castle town, both Luceus and Aurora are attempting to win prizes. Luceus goes first and acquires a stack of slimes. When Aurora’s opportunity arises, she takes two toy pistols and goes in, guns blazing. She’s basically button-mashing her way through the game, just like us.
It doesn’t exactly work out for her in that instance, but when the monsters are forced to turn on people and the two guardsmen need to return to King Doric’s side to protect him, the Aurora’s blunt brilliance is put into action. When in the throne room, Luceus goes on and on about how they “could” protect the king and Healix, the lone medislime not under malicious influences. Aurora interrupts him to suggest all-out attacks, and the king agrees with her approach.
It’s not that strategy isn’t an option in these sorts of games. Certain tactics can be employed in Warriors-style titles like Dragon Quest Heroes. The game even takes a few moments to educate people as to the merits of specific combos and magical spells. But we have to face facts. When you’re in a level with at least 100 generic goons on-screen and each one has to be defeated before you can move onto the next adventure, you aren’t going to start experimenting with styles. You’re going to go in swinging, flailing at every foe. No sense in being elegant when brute force is effective enough.
Seeing the lead heroine also ready to leap into action is refreshing. Too often, such a game has an overstated sense of gravity about the situation. Much ado may be made about specific combos and how critical they are to one’s success. That the protagonist is equally willing to leap in, swords slashing, without a thought as to details, probably isn’t realistic within the bounds of the story, but it sure makes a lot of sense to us. Anyone who has played an Omega Force title will appreciate Aurora’s attitude.