That’s why I appreciate Square Enix’s Dragon Quest Tact. It’s a free-to-play gacha version of a tactics game, which opens it up to many players. Based on my time with an iOS preview build of the game, it succeeds in being a fun, laidback “tactical” experience.
In Dragon Quest Tact, you play as a human who wakes up in the monster-filled world of Orchesterra. Using a magical baton, you’ll need to defeat these creatures to later command them in battle. Beyond that, Tact seems to have a generic “go out and save the day, adventurer!” sort of mobile game story with fairly trite dialogue. Thankfully, the gameplay that’s much more intriguing.
In it, you manage a party of five in grid-based environments and plan your attacks accordingly. Sometimes, there will be rocks and other obstacles in the way, but for the most part, it’s a streamlined tactical experience. This lets you focus more on when your party members can go in between enemies’ turns. All the while, you’ll hear the same kind of rousing music you’d expect from a Dragon Quest game.
Altogether, it’s an admittedly simple turn-based strategy system, but that’s what makes it laidback — and, therefore, appealing — on mobile. Further, its charming presentation — using the signature designs of famed Dragon Ball creator and longtime Dragon Quest designer Akira Toriyama — adds a great deal to the overall experience.
But what makes elevates the gameplay is the addition of monster collecting. Throughout your journey, you’ll encounter new colourful creatures that you can beat and recruit, like a cute sabretooth tiger cub or plump bat. Besides enjoying the designs of these monsters, I came to actually look forward to what sort of new abilities they’d have that I could leverage in combat. From my time with the campaign, the game also does a solid job balancing the ramp up in difficulty in battles along with the rank of monsters that you get from clearing them.
I should note that, however, that my experience with the Dragon Quest franchise is limited to my time with Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Otherwise, I’ve never played any of the games. Therefore, I don’t get much out of the actual Dragon Quest aspects of the franchise, outside of mostly surface level admiration of their charm. Even still, the game is enjoyable in its own right, and Dragon Quest veterans should, naturally, get even more out of it.
That said, what could very well present an issue to newcomers and fans alike is the aforementioned gacha system. For the purposes of the preview build, I was gifted a generous stream of Gems, Tact‘s premium currency which is used to buy higher-ranking monsters. However, it remains to be seen how balanced this system will be in the final build of the game. Given the central conceit of monster recruiting, the potential is certainly there for exploitative monetization. I can’t currently comment on whether you’d ever feel forced to spend real money for more Gems.
For now, though, Tact proves to be an entertaining, tactics-lite experience with a surprisingly engaging monster catching mechanic. I’m looking forward to seeing more from it in the coming months.
Dragon Quest Tact is currently only available on Android and iOS in Japan, but a western release is set for sometime in early 2021.