Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero's Bonds Hands-on Impressions

The world of Dragon Quest has expanded and spread into many facets of media over the years. Be it through games, manga or animation, there’s plenty of content to keep fans occupied and interested. This expansion of the series continues today with the re-imagined Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai – a new adaptation of the 1989 manga by the same name.

Said manga followed the story of the titular Dai, orphaned at a young age, with dreams of becoming a hero. As he grew older, circumstance conspired to land him that very “chosen one” role.

While Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai did have an anime series in the past, it’s this second adaptation that promises to bring the full scope of the story to light. As such, Square Enix is keen on creating a media universe of its own and thus games like Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero’s Bonds were born. Recently, I had a go at the closed beta build of the game.

Created by developer DeNA, A Hero’s Bonds isn’t quite the typical Dragon Quest outing. Those familiar to the series might have expected a turn-based experience but this is not the case. Instead, the free-to-play game dips its toes into the “auto-runner” genre while incorporating RPG attack elements. It’s as straight-forward as can be with your created character running down a set path defeating various enemies from the Dragon Quest stable. The game’s AI will handle the basic attacks for you but as the player, you’ll control the special abilities when they’ve powered up enough. You also have the ability to control movement on the field as well as shield yourself from enemy strikes. It’s intuitive if only because each battle is quick and to the point – its very much pick-up-and-play as much as you would expect from a mobile title. Admittedly the game is far from what I expected from a Dragon Quest game but that’s okay – I think it works here because of how different Dai is in presentation. It stands alone from the mainline series.

All of these actions culminate in the game’s story modes. After a brief tutorial and setting up your own character, you’re set to go through the game’s original story (Bonding Journey) that focuses on you, the main character and Luminary Leader. For those who would rather experience the story of the original series, the second mode, Dragon Tracks, takes you through those events. It’s here you’ll get to party up with Dai and his friends as you gather more allies through various quests.

It’s the custom character creation that had me most impressed. Instead of the stock Akira Toriyama-style designs, Hero’s Bonds offers up some unique hairstyles, eye shapes and overall looks for the characters uncommon to the mainline series.

The create-a-character aspect is then furthered by the game’s gashapon systems. As with most mobile games, you’ll be stocking up on currency that lets you “summon” or gamble for new equipment. Weapons and other gear can be found within offering different rarity levels. These can be equipped to change the outward appearance and stats for your character. If you’re unsure of which items are best, the game has an option that does it for you automatically..

On the aesthetic front, Hero’s Bonds is a visual treat. A clean cel shaded style compliments models that aren’t too complex but do well to emulate the anime style. The user interface is simple and easy to navigate and the in-battle command menu is clearly marked as well. All in all it’s impressive for something meant to run on your phone.

Hero’s Bonds might not be the most conventional Dragon Quest game but its connection to the original Dai story and quick pick up and play offer a convenient experience for both newcomers and those already familiar with the manga or anime. It’s certainly got me interested in the latter.

Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: Hero’s Bonds is currently in pre-registration. The full game is scheduled to launch later this year for mobile platforms.

Disclaimer: Closed beta opportunity provided by the publisher, Square Enix. Demoed on a Sony Xperia 5 smartphone.

About the Author

Erren Van Duine As a self-professed Final Fantasy fan, Erren created Nova Crystallis in 2009 as a place to collect the latest information on her favorite series. As owner and Editor-in-Chief, she also spends her time as a freelance illustrator.