I feel like at any given time in the past few years I’ve had a small handful of consistent games I would play on my phone. Nothing major like Genshin Impact or anything, but just something to take up some time between classes, on the commute home, or between shifts. Games like Dragalia Lost and Fire Emblem Heroes are the big titles when I think of this category of games.
A new contender popped up last month: Dragon Quest Tact. Following hot off the footsteps of the recently completed Dragon Quest XI, the new mobile game is everything I tend to enjoy about mindless phone games: easy to play in long or short sessions, a familiar IP, and an addictive “Gatcha” gameplay system. One month in and I do not see myself slowing down on the daily grind.
At it’s core, DQT is a strategy RPG with a Gatcha system to acquire new team members. Rather than play as characters from the history of Dragon Quest games, you recruit the series’ famous monsters into your party. Classics like Slimes, Green Dragons, and even the Dragon Lord himself are collectible and usable characters in your team’s 5-person party. There are different class types like attack and support, different elemental users like Zap and Sizz spellcasters, and there are different monster families like Undead and Beast families. Each monster has upgradable levels, abilities, ranks, and more. Naturally, all of these stats and boosts are locked behind all types of collectibles, meaning the more you play, the more you unlock and upgrade your team. Pretty standard stuff for this type of game.
What Dragon Quest Tact does is really feed on your nostalgia for the series proper. The visuals are what you would expect from the series: Akira Toriyama’s inspirations and creations are looking as pretty as ever on my phone screen, and really bring a sense of uniqueness to the game. I’ve always heralded the DQ series as having bright and wonderful presentation comparatively, and that thankfully holds true here. Familiar sound effects and story queues also help to satisfy series fans.
The more modern ideas of a gatcha system for monetizing the game are regrettably present. The only way you can earn more monsters for your party is through random draws using the games premium currency, Gems. Fortunately gems can be earned by completing many daily and simple tasks, so you get them fairly freely in the early game. But later on you’ll likely be spending real life money to get them, but it isn’t required. One month in the game does a fairly decent job rewarding you with enough new content, monsters, and progress to keep you coming back for more, even without paying.
These types of games are incredibly slow grinds if you do not pay for them. And I do not pay for them. Therefore the enjoyment for me from the game will be from the story, gameplay, or power crawl. For games like Dragalia I still play routinely just to maintain my teams I dedicated countless hours to curate. It feels rewarding to play them and dominate any new content, while still slowly chipping away at the next tier of gear someone that paid for likely had months and months ago. I am seeing how the same can be the case with Dragon Quest Tact. And I am now asking myself if I even want that.
These types of games do not really offer any substantial playing experience. Rather, they release short bursts of endorphins that are the perfect amount for a mobile game you only play a few minutes each time you pick it up. I already have those games in my wheelhouse though, so playing more of DQT will really come down to how much the developers give me as a non-paying player early on. Will it be enough to entice me to keep going day in and day out? Honestly, I kind of hope so.
I feel like I am just on the edge of the next big upgrade, the next big piece I need to unlock a new tier of spells. It’s this fringe gameplay mechanic that I guarantee is purposeful that keeps me wanting to play. And even though I am literally being manipulated by the developers to keep playing… I am still enjoying it. I have to concede this is likely due to my familiarity to the source material, and would go as far to say this game is not for random players but rather for fans of the series.
Will Dragon Quest Tact remain on my phone’s home page in a few months time? We’ll have to wait and see, but for the time being I have been enjoying my time beating up slimes and knights, grinding for Dragon stones and orbs, and smiling when that S-Rank monster finally drops.