Game Journal Jan 22 2023

Three entries this week: Dragon Quest Monsters Caravan Hearts, Dishonored and Dragon Quest Treasures. I promise this is not a "Games That Start With D" blog.

Dragon Quest Monsters Caravan Hearts

Hoo boy, what a weird game. 

The third game in the DQM series is radically different from the first two, namely that your party is mostly humans. The monster breeding is also weirder too, where instead of breeding two monsters, you combine one base monster with two monster hearts. These seem to mostly be randomly acquired at the end of battles, with no mechanic (so far) to improve those chances.

The beginning of this game is extremely harsh - as you can see above, I got destroyed! This was because I ran out of food then took one step on a swamp and my only monster died. In fact, it wasn't until about 2 hours in that I figured out a strategy for making more money than I lost on adventuring, and it involved stockpiling apples and using the fact that dying gives you 100 food for free.

The fan translation is pretty good

And it wasn't until 3 hours in that I got a second monster! I spent the first 3 hours of the game with a single, lowly slime taking on every adversary. Absolutely bizarre pacing.

If I treat this as purposeful, then I guess they're trying to recreate the feeling of the first DQ game for a while. That game is also pretty harsh in the beginning, features a single protagonist, and has quests involving dangerous treks with dwindling resources. 

Unfortunately, I think DQMCH isn't very successful in this regard - it feels less like danger and more like annoying resource management. About 4 hours in and food is essentially trivial, but it drains resources as well. So it just slows things down.

But for a DQM game it also feels like a bit of a failure. I'm also used to being able to find new and interesting monsters very quickly in DQM games. The fact that you can only collect hearts means that I need to get two of them to then modify one of my existing monsters, so my catalog of monsters is extremely limited. I currently have 3 total, and can only use 2 in battle at a time anyway. I've only modified one monster at all due to the scarcity of hearts so far.

Ignore the misgendering

So yeah, feels like a weird one. It isn't as crunchy and dangerous as a traditional DQ game, but it also lacks the variety and excitement of a DQM game. I can see why they went backwards systems-wise pretty significantly for the first DQM Joker game.

The pixel art is fantastic though, as expected. I love seeing the monsters, backgrounds, and other various sprites in the cheery GBA "our backlight isn't good enough so you better make it bright" palette.


I don't think I like this game very much. It's...really hard. And the voice acting is kind of wooden, and I don't really like how it controls very much. And the plot is uninteresting so far - why am I trying to reestablish an imperial monarchy? I don't feel like that's a great idea? 

Maybe it subverts the plot later but I'm really not digging the gameplay all that much. I feel like it's really easy to trigger the enemies into just murdering my dumb ass. I am also very bad at stealth games.

45 kills on a stealthy mission - oh and i accidentally killed a civilian. And triggered two alarms. And 10 dead people were found. 

I'm going to try and get through a few more missions but so far I'm not sure I understand the hype around this. Maybe the time has just passed though - sometimes it seems like games get their lunch eaten, so to speak, by games that improve on their mechanics later.

I will say: I love the weird whale shit, whatever the hell is going on there. I'm really into that. I want more weird whale shit. And rats eating people. That's the good stuff.

Dragon Quest Treasures
I will never get a haul this good again in my life

I made a long post about this one already so I won't go too deep into it. But my current goal is to pick up as many of the non-randomized treasures, i.e. stuff sitting in treasure chests rather than being buried underground, as I can. This mostly involves wandering around with a monster that can Scan (which reveals treasures and resources) and trying to get to the vaguely rectangular ones that look like treasures on each map. Currently working on the swampy area.

This is giving me an excuse to explore the levels pretty deeply, something that isn't required in normal treasure hunting since they are pretty much dispersed throughout the island at a generous rate. There are lots of areas that seem impossible to get to without abusing geometry in ways that I don't think were intended - this probably means I'm missing something! But Mario Odyssey gave me the same feeling a few times, then stashed coins on top to let me know that I had done it the right way, so who knows?

It's a lovely game though. Still plugging away and having a great time.