This may come as a surprise to some, but back in the day, the Nintendo Switch was actually marketed as a console where you could play co-op right out of the box. That’s right, by using your (potentially drifting) Joy Cons separately, you can have two players enjoying whatever delicious multiplayer games you might have in your collection! As an adamant believer in the joy and togetherness brought about by all things co-operative and good, my eternal plight is to find excellent co-op Role-Playing Games for fun with friends. Are you a fan of digging? What about dungeon-crawling at an (at times) unbearably slow pace? Then Quest Hunter might be the perfect solution for you and your best buddies.
Quest Hunter is a co-operative, top-down Role-Playing Game with a focus on… well, quest hunting. The sun has been stolen, and in the ensuing chaos, a lone adventurer’s airship has crash-landed in treacherous territory. In order to get yourself airborne once more, you’ll need to find out who is behind the sun-stealing and figure out your alliances and allegiances in this strange land. Armed with a trusty shovel and a hand-full of dreams, you’ll set out towards getting your bearings straight by accepting the duties and tasks set forth for you by multiple NPCs.
While completing quests- and really, any sort of quest will do- you’ll need to explore a variety of environments, which can be selected from a large world map with various interconnected routes. These areas are sometimes small, but more often than not, they are wide-open playgrounds teeming with enemies, traps, and plenty of unlit torches, which serve as quicksave points and barriers from most kinds of unintelligent aggression. Monsters will shy away from the light, but human enemies will track you down in order to kill you mercilessly, causing your inventory to explode into a hundred stacks of materials. Fortunately, you’re not defenseless- armed with a sword and shield, you can use the a button to slash back at your enemies and the zr button to block incoming attacks. The remaining face buttons are used for executing assigned skills, which unlock based on level, operate on cooldowns, and become stronger depending on what materials you feed them. Additionally, you can dig any- and everywhere by pressing the r button, which proves useful for a particular facet of gameplay.
While in these maps, you may encounter all sorts of characters and creatures, some of which are friendly, as you attempt to achieve your goal. Early on in the game, you’ll have to recover a key item for an NPC and return it to them at their place in a level or gather a specific number of resources, though you’ll eventually be moving from map to map in order to complete grander objectives, such as pilfering dungeons, rescuing maidens, and getting to the bottom of overarching mysteries. Exploring maps is a challenge in itself, as many will take you through winding corridors in order to test your equipment and preparedness, and keeping a healthy amount of torches on-hand is important. Even if you defend against an enemy attack, some of their strength can result in chip damage, which is even more severe if you take an unblocked hit. If you ever feel unequipped to take on a challenge, the answer may simply be stronger equipment or better skills, both of which are easily obtainable at one of the numerous base camps found throughout the game.
Narrative and Aesthetics
Though Quest Hunter runs smoothly enough on the Switch, the game is by no means a graphical powerhouse. There are a number of unique enemy types to be found out in the world, though they mostly seem like variations on the classic RPG tropes, i.e. the slime also has an elephant trunk. The speed of an enemy’s animations often equates to their threat level, but I’m happy to say that there’s a unique mix of speeds and attack types to be found in the game. The environments are also fairly standard, presenting a simple, cartoonish view of a fantasy world. Most elements are well-telegraphed and easily recognizable, however, so there’s not much to complain about. A lack of ambition might be the only critique to give the game, but its art style is hardly unappealing.
What truly seals the deal are the somewhat grotesque, yet immensely charming character portraits found throughout the game. Starting a dialogue with any human character will pull up a zoomed-in, charming illustration of their features, and these are simultaneously cute and weird. There’s a low number of females to be found in-game, but all the characters are given very stark and defining characteristics. You can tell this was a major area of focus for the art team, as there is a setting in the menu to view each of these portraits, accompanied by a brief character bio.
The narrative is mostly light fluff meant to impart an important and meaningful quest to the playable character as they set off on their journey, but the remainder of the game’s text is a flavorful affair. Most characters are either blissfully dumb and earnest or charming and wily. The result is a game that very much feels as if each character speaks in the same voice, but still has a great deal of charm. The effort to make each character’s interactions honest to their archetype while being humorous is admirable despite not always hitting the mark. The only issue with some of this dialogue is that it can be clipped as it runs over- or underneath a character graphic. While this doesn’t result in any earth-shattering plot points being lost, it is still a lack of polish. Lastly, the game is rounded out by some genuinely charming instrumentation. The camp theme in particular has a strange feeling of familiarity and is pretty catchy, though the other tracks are hardly as memorable. All of these elements blend together to make a simple looking, yet solid play experience that can offer plenty of fun.
Impressions and Conclusion
I don’t believe that many would feel playing through Quest Hunter’s surprisingly lengthy campaign alone is worthwhile, though there are exceptions. If you are looking for a game with a great deal of replay value, and enjoy performing menial tasks akin to town management in Animal Crossing on a day-to-day basis, then Quest Hunter provides an exploratory, low-commitment sort of alternative. Because of the game’s slow pace and low difficulty, it doesn’t offer much outside of this.
When playing solo, resources are rarely in low reserve. Wood and stone are particularly accessible, as any tree or boulder can be cut down and broken into materials, and other resources usually drop from roaming mobs or hidden treasure chests. One key aspect of Quest Hunter’s addictive nature are the secrets hiding in each level, the number of which can be viewed in your menu for each individual map. Accessing these can be as simple as cutting down a tree with a rare drop underneath or digging in the right spot on the map (the game will alert you when you’ve got treasure beneath your feet), or it can require the use of a certain key or a number of flipped switches. You may not be able to access all of these immediately, but thorough exploration and resource gathering will eventually pull through.
Death isn’t much of a setback, unless you’re playing on the hardest difficulty and you haven’t been saving, which wipes all of the materials you’ve gained since your last save off the slate. Aside from this, combat is also a very light affair, as it boils down to “hold shield, press attack, and pray” with the occasional skill thrown in. As long as you have a strong enough shield, you’ll be able to tank any attack and slowly chip away at an enemy with return slashes- if they hit. Quest Hunter has some pretty questionable hitboxes, though they only seem to be on the player’s attacks and skills, and not the other way around. Bosses are often so much stronger than the playable character that they demand their alternative puzzle mechanic, or hit-and-run skill spam. Once you’ve come to understand this, however, the game falls into a very comfortable and at times hypnotic rhythm. I’d even go as far as to commend it for presenting a nice variety of boss encounter types, including a few that I felt were extremely nice blends of lore and gameplay.
Alas, its technical shortcomings make Quest Hunter a true gamble, as the game often crashes when transitioning into a new environment. While this rarely results in a tangible loss of progress, it makes online co-op an uncertainty, which is a hard strike against the game. The game’s default walking speed is also criminally slow, which means accidentally hitting a dead-end in a labyrinthine dungeon or dying far away from your last save point feels like true torture. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t throw some rather offensive mazes your way, in addition to some objectives that seem oriented towards co-operative gameplay (carry x amount of items across the level, for example).
Still, I find myself returning to Quest Hunter despite acknowledging its flaws, which means it must be doing something right. Whether it’s scouring the realm for materials to power up a piece of equipment or a skill, diving into the substantial amount of quests and environments to explore, or simply because I’m a sucker for co-op RPGs, Quest Hunter does possess a certain something that makes its charms hard to shake. If any of what you’ve read in this review appeals to you, I think you’ll find that the full package is substantial enough to warrant your time. Though it’s best spent with friends, Quest Hunter is a competent, yet flawed RPG experience for those who enjoy a slow burn- emphasis on slow.