DQ: The Adventure of Dai – A Hero’s Bonds Impression
The boss battles are the highlight of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – A Hero’s Bonds, requiring timing, strategy, and more than you’d expect in a mobile action RPG.
Many Dragon Quest fans were recently saddened by the announcement of the upcoming cancellation of the year-old mobile title Dragon Quest of the Stars. Square Enix and DeNA have all of those looking for a similar mobile dress-up with fun battles against familiar DQ enemies covered with the upcoming launch of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – A Hero’s Bonds. I was recently able to get my hands on a beta build of the game for a week, and it felt very similar to Dragon Quest of the Stars in all but the combat. For those fans of of the Dai no Diabouken manga or anime, the fun action combat and story should prove to make A Hero’s Bonds a game to check out when it’s fully released later this year.
The story in A Hero’s Bonds is twofold. There is a story quest line that retells the Dai no Daiboken story, first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from October 1989 to December 1996. Dai’s story was partly retold in an anime made by Toei Animation across more than forty episodes in the early 1990s, and a reboot can currently be seen on Crunchyroll and Hulu in North America and some other regions outside Japan. Dai is an orphan boy who has been raised by DQ monsters on a remote island, but with the return of the evil Hadler, a demon lord once thought defeated by hero Avan, he and his friends alone have the power to return peace to the world.
A Hero’s Bonds also tells the story of a player-created Luminary Leader who has similar powers to those of the titular Dai. Players control their character in the land of Milladosia, a parallel universe to Dai’s, and try to defeat Xevallo, Lord of the Void, who’s been breaking the bonds that connect people, causing Milladosia to plunge into chaos. The title, A Hero’s Bonds, is referenced multiple times in this story as Milladosia is linked to Dai’s world, and friends of Dai that have bonded with him can form bonds with the player’s character.
Gameplay is a major strength of A Hero’s Bonds. The game is an action RPG, with the action coming fast and furious. The player’s character, Dai, and other companions continually run straight down a three-columned path and encounter groups of monsters that appear in the distance with enough advance notice to allow players to strategically position their characters. The characters automatically battle, while the player can swipe left or right to optimize their positions or click on the various skills to activate more powerful attacks. All missions attempted in the beta lasted less than two minutes, so the heroes quickly reached boss monsters, and that’s where combat becomes even more fun. Bosses can hit characters hard enough to send them flying backwards, but players can do the same to them if a skilled attack lands when the game highlights bosses as vulnerable. If done enough times, boss monsters will crash into a boulder, activating a “break” mode in which players can inflict serious damage to a stunned boss for a short time. The combat is fast and exciting, but unfortunately only comes in extremely short missions. Hopefully, as the game progresses, missions will become longer.
Like other recent Dragon Quest mobile titles, A Hero’s Bonds offers almost more additional modes and upgrades than one can count. There are timed event quests, character quests to increase friendship levels, challenge quests to find alchemy items, weapons, armor, etc., and a Hall of Perdition where powerful foes can be battled. The game’s gacha mechanic revolves around earning gems and pulling for new weapons, armor, and skills. All of these of course can be upgraded, which leads to multiple other menu-driven modes.
Visually, A Hero’s Bonds is beautiful. The characters look just like the updated anime series, and the enemies are incredibly well-animated Dragon Quest monsters and bosses from the Dai universe. The game’s audio is very nicely done, but like the anime series, the entire game is voiced in Japanese, with English text. If that isn’t something players wish to hear, voice acting can be turned off in the settings menu, and other gameplay audio can remain at desired levels.
For those who can tolerate gacha mobile mechanics, A Hero’s Bonds is one they should check out later this year when the game launches. I’m not a fan of gacha mobile games in general, but I think even I may give this one a chance. The battle system, while unfortunately only experienced in 90-second segments, is quite engaging and one I thoroughly enjoyed. The boss battles are the highlight of Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – A Hero’s Bonds, requiring timing, strategy, and more than you’d expect in a mobile action RPG.
Disclosure: This impression is based on beta access provided by the publisher.