Pause vs Play — Dragon Quest of the Stars Review: A Tribute to the classics

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Dragon Quest of the Stars finally made its way to the West. Will it enjoy the same success?

After enjoying half a decade of success in its motherland of Japan, Dragon Quest of the Stars entered the treacherous waters of the West and beyond. The game is hoping to mimic the fame it amassed back home. Can it though, with its 5-years of experience? Let’s find out in our review.

Pause vs Play: Would you even bother playing DQOS?

Right then, before continuing into the specifics of the game, we’d like to give a rundown on the factors that may, or may not, make you wanna play the game. This is our “tl:dr” portion of the review. However, if you do want to better understand why we listed down these factors then carry on with reading!

Play Factors

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

So what are the factors that would make you wanna play or even bat an eye at Dragon Quest of the Stars?

  • You are a fan or are okay with Gachas
  • You like a flexible class system
  • You are a fan of Dragon Quest
  • You enjoy 8-bit and/or 16-bit music and sound effects
  • You enjoy fast-paced combat
  • You appreciate/are a fan of the Chibi and Dragonball art style
  • You like real-time co-op
  • You are okay with or like auto-basic attack combat
  • You are okay with or like skill-based combat
  • You enjoy crafting (equipment, item) and cooking mechanics
  • You prefer PvE over PvP

Pause Factors

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

Let’s go over the flip side. What are the factors that may push you away from Dragon Quest of the Stars?

  • You’re not a fan/very fond of Gachas
  • You prefer slower combat
  • You prefer modern sound effects and music over 8 or 16-bit
  • You prefer or at least want PvP
  • You’re not too fond of auto-basic attack combat
  • You don’t like energy-based gameplay systems
  • You’re not a fan of turn-based combat systems
  • You’re not too fond of the chibi art style
  • You aren’t too fond with separate premium currency management, where it is divided into free and paid currency

Alright with all these factors out of the way, let’s get on to our review proper.

Visuals

Straight out of the character customization screen you’ll notice some very familiar visuals. If you’ve been a follower of the Dragon Ball franchise then the art style of DQOS isn’t new for you. That’s because the artist of Dragon Quest since its birth is none other than Akira Toriyama, the father of Dragon Ball. As such, much of our character’s appearance like hair and facial structure closely resembles Goku and his crew. Not to mention, some of the gear you’ll come across.

However, for DQOS it’s more chiby than full-blown 3D. Hence, the cute and artsy vibe. Effects and animations though are closer to what we have with the original old-school Dragon Quest titles. Albeit a little more polished and 3D but still classical. Honestly, we love the visuals of the game and it still looks great despite its age. Yet, we do recognize that this won’t appeal to everyone.

Audio

This is yet another aspect that DQOS took straight out of the classics’ handbook. Most of the sound effects and music has that 8 or 16-bit RPG-vibe, down to the victory notes and attack cues. However, it does have a bit of a modern touch to it. We’re not complaining though as it takes us to a trip down memory lane. Plus, the menu music really gets your adventure-vibe going. We even oftentimes found ourselves swaying to the beat of the BGM. I mean, have at it in the video above, Sugoiiiii right?

Gameplay

Let’s get on with the heavier stuff now that visuals and audio are out of the way.

Combat

Before all else, we just want you to know that the game only features PvE. Sorry fans of PvP, you won’t be seeing any chibi dudes/dudettes smashing each other here. Right then, Dragon Quest of the Stars seems to really favor its classic predecessors. So much so that even its battle system is reminiscent of the franchise’s olden age of turn-based combat. However, don’t be fooled by that monicker as combat is actually fast-paced. Contradictory right?

That’s because you won’t be doing any “end turns” here as turn sequence is also automatic. Meaning, when all your characters are done with their actions, the tables shift to your opponent. Come to think of it, isn’t that kind of weird? That a turn-based combat system is actually fast-paced. Anyway, despite taking on a turn-based system though basic attacks are fully automated and can be a hassle in battles.

Another caveat is that once you choose an enemy, that’ll be the entire party’s target. You won’t be able to nitpick for your characters. The silver lining in all of this though is the skill-based system put in place, which is what players can manually control. These skills can be queued and will be a character’s next action in the following turn instead of them just automatically whacking opponents. There’s no mana here though, so skills instead have cooldowns.

You won’t be able to fire them up all the time too as they share a global cooldown. At best you can trigger one in every two turns. So, you’ll still have to sometimes rely on basic attacks, bummer. As a last bit of extra oomph for players, using offensive skills in succession will trigger a damage bonus combo. Oh, and yes, you can fully automate combat, skills and all but we’ll get more into that skills part later. Lastly, you can eat food before fights to boost stats or to trigger effects.

Equipment and Skills

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

Right, so we’ve talked all about combat, now it’s time to take a look at equipment. This is where the Gacha comes in as equipment are the ones we pull for. The downside to this kind of system is that your goal, or wish, will be to complete an equipment set. Namely the weapon, top, body, and bottom armors and the shield. For example, despite my best efforts, I was only able to grab the Erdrick armor pieces and shield. I missed out on the sword, huhu. Thankfully, there are no set bonuses, however, completing a set does provide a specific advantage.

Like how the Erdrick set is strong, defensively and offensively, against dragon-type monsters. The beauty in all of this is that pieces of equipment have specific skill-type slots. Meaning, you can slot in different skills depending on your needs. This gives players quite the customization as you can have some heal skills on offensive vocations for extra survivability. You also don’t have to worry about aesthetics as the game allows you to wear any of your equipment as costumes. We still have to fashionable when fighting monsters, right?

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

Both equipment and skills can be upgraded using other equipment or skills or with upgrade orbs. Equipment can also be evolved to increase their max level, rank up their skill slots, and even unlock additional skill slots. However, evolution is a truly costly venture as it requires a special item or duplicates of that particular piece. Once again, Gacha gets in the way of our dreams here, boo.

There’s a nice quality of life feature where you can store and load loadouts. For both your main equipment setup and your appearance setup. A very helpful feature if you wish to quickly change between your sets for specific battles. Lastly, we have a crafting system for equipment and items and a kitchen for cooking meals. Since accessories aren’t part of the Gacha, crafting and events will be your main source for em.

Class System a.k.a Vocation

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

DQOS has a flexible class system or vocation as they call it. meaning you can freely swap between vocations. The standard vocations are free of charge while specialist ones require scrolls to unlock. Once that’s done though, you can freely swap to them without additional costs. What’ll keep you glued in the class system is that specialist vocations have prerequisites.

For example, a Paladin requires a character to be a Lv. 50 Martial Artist and Priest. What’s nice here is that you can unlock all vocations for your characters. It’ll take quite a bit of time though, but at least the option is there. Plus you can build all sorts of vocation combinations depending on your combat needs.

Co-op

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

Now, one of the biggest draws of the game, if you ain’t a fan of the DQ series, is probably its 4-player co-op. Replacing your friend slot and two regular slots in quests are actual players. The best thing about joining other parties is that it requires no stamina at all. So technically you can play all day as long as you’re not the host.

The biggest benefit of doing co-op is the extra rewards at the end of quests. Depending on your party’s luck, you’ll be able to grab a few extra drops. This makes co-op the best place to farm items, especially event-exclusive ones. Just remember to follow your party’s food combo as that raises not just stats but even luck.

Cash Shop

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

How fares Dragon Quest of the Stars cash shop? Well, it follows the traditional pricing of Gachas but with a little bit extra. You need 3000 gems for a 10-pull to net that amount you’ll have to shell out $24.99 (~Php 1,280). The common pricing for most Gacha games, however, DQOS throws in a few extra gems (310) in that bundle. Yet the most important thing to take note here is that paid and free gems are managed separately. One of the worst cash shop features ever. This means you won’t be able to buy small gem packs to reach 3000 if your free ones are just a pinch away. The game also offers a subscription model called Star Pass and Star Adventurer’s Passport. The latter is a monthly subscription plan bought using real money, while the other is a 14-day pass bought using “paid” gems.

The monthly pass offers a monthly special draw, free daily stamina refills, 30 luck, turbo combat speed toggle, and extra equipment lockers. The weekly passport, on the other hand, offers 5 lucky chest draws and extra equipment lockers. Yet that’s not all, remember how we mentioned you can auto skills? Well, that is only available when you have these passes. Yep, you’re gonna have to rely on basic attacks in auto if you ain’t got any of these subscriptions. This is a major turn off actually. You are given a 1-month free Star Pass. So at least for 30 days, you can grind peacefully. The problem is with the succeeding months.

Verdict

Dragon Quest of the Stars review

Dragon Quest of the Stars paid homage to its early predecessors by adopting most of their features but with modern improvements. However, it may not be appealing to most as combat, while turn-based, is actually fast-paced. Apart from that, the targeting system has that single target caveat. Gacha is even more of a pain here though since you’re pulling for equipment pieces. The skill system though has its merits, allowing players to combine different variants as long as their equipment permits it. Where the game really shines is in its co-op system and very generous energy system (3min refill time).

You’ll oftentimes find yourself with too much stamina to spare unless you run the heavy event dungeons. Co-op is even crazier allowing players to play endlessly as it requires no stamina as long as you’re not the host. Sadly though, the cash shop and premium currency management are mired with bad decisions and irritating features. Ultimately, DQOS is for players who have an attachment to the series, enjoy co-op, prefer PvE more than PvP, and have the stomach to look past the frustrating cash shop.

Will Dice & D-Pads Pause or Play DQOS?

Yes I will Play or rather I did! Thanks to its cutesy art, amazing music, and co-op features. We really enjoy co-op games, especially if it’s more than two. Don’t get me wrong though, I didn’t stop playing because I got tired or bored of the game. It just so happens some other title suddenly got most of my attention. Yet I still play from time to time when I get the chance. However, the cash shop features really got into my nerves, especially the need to buy passes for full auto-combat.

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