Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero’s Bonds Closed Beta impressions

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to check out the closed beta test for the upcoming Square Enix / DeNA mobile game Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero?s Bonds. Based on the manga/anime series Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, which just saw a revival of sorts with a newly adapted film last year, this is a free-to-play action RPG that incorporates familiar Dragon Quest elements from the long-running Square Enix RPG series and turns it into something relatively new within the free-to-play mobile space. 

While this was a closed beta that didn?t necessarily feature access to every mode available at launch, there was a hefty amount of content available in the beta, and certainly enough to give us an idea of what to expect when the game officially launches later this year.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from my time spent with Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero?s Bond was how unique the combat system was. In The Adventure of Dai you?ll build a team of heroes, with up to four unique teammates. One teammate will be partnered with your leader, so you can swap between them on the fly during combat, while the other two will be CPU controlled. The three on-field characters will run up a multi-lane path encountering lines of enemies to defeat. You can opt to have full control of the battle, allowing you to control positioning and special attacks, while basic attacks are performed automatically. Your goal, in general, is to defeat enemy lines quickly and advance through the stage, typically ending in a boss fight.

The boss fight features a much tougher challenge, requiring judicious use of blocking, dodging, and special attacks. If the boss is open to extra damage from a special, you?ll have a small diamond-shaped icon that appears, and if you trigger a special attack at this point, you can break your enemy?s defense, and even push them back a bit. If you manage to push the boss back far enough, they will collide with a wall behind them, opening them to even more damage. It?s a pretty engaging mechanic overall, that makes you hesitant to even use the semi-auto and full-auto combat options the game provides.

During the beta, there were a handful of modes available. There?s the main story and then a sort of side-story mode, where you?re essentially running through the story beats of The Adventure of Dai. There is also a mode where you can work on friendship bonds with individual characters, revealing more of their personal story. There are also modes available to grind out materials for crafting, in-game money for upgrades, upgrade materials for skills, and additional upgrade options. There?s a lot of ways to build up your characters beyond just leveling them up, and it opens up some skill customization options a little more down the road. 

It?s also worth mentioning that there is a gacha mechanic, but it is tied solely to equipment so far. Characters are gained by progressing through the story, I had five different characters by the time the beta ended, and I would assume that there will be even more present in the full release. Equipment slots consist of a few items, ranked by stars, with more valuable equipment coming out of the gacha mechanic. That said, the game did dole out some powerful 4-star pieces of equipment just through playing and redeeming rewards, so you can get a pretty good start even without engaging in the random draws. Also, in-game currency was readily available via completed story quests and onboarding mission objectives, which seemed nice.

I would absolutely suggest keeping an eye out for Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero?s Bonds when it launches later this year. The unique battle mechanic really does go a long way towards making this feel like a pretty unique mobile game, and the added aesthetics from Dragon Quest certainly don?t hurt either. I look forward to checking it out again when it officially launches, and can certainly see myself sinking a number of hours into it again.