Dragon Quest Builders is Square Enix’s take on the world building features of Minecraft mixed with the unique atmosphere and characters of Dragon Quest series. The game is primarily an action RPG that focuses on world building through exploration. It also features the essentials of an RPG by tasking the players with various side quests while focusing on delivering a narrative with a proper story.
While it is hard to resist drawing comparison to Minecraft and other world building games, don’t confuse it with being a copy cat. I am not a Minecraft fan but despite this, I really enjoyed my time with Dragon Quest Builders. The main thing to keep in mind here is that the game is not primarily a world building simulator. Instead, it is features a narrative and tasks the player with objectives which makes the whole experience much more fulfilling.
The building part of the game is relatively straight forward. Players can destroy a piece of land or item and place them at any point on the world map. The destroyed portion can be kept in the inventory. The inventory itself is limited to a certain amount of items, and once it is full, players will have to keep their items in a chest. Just like everything else in the world of Dragon Quest Builders, this chest is also built by the player and since their is no limit on the amount of chests, we can basically have an unlimited capacity for items.
Dragon Quest Builders works so well compared to a standard world building simulator because it combines the uniqueness of the action RPG genre with the world building simulation featured in Minecraft. It is more of an action RPG on the basis of the quests that are given to the player, and the sense of progression that it carries throughout the journey to the end. The combat system feels like it is inspired from The Legend of Zelda. It is fast paced and require timing to dodge some of the monster attacks. The monster can drop new loot which in turn can unlock new recipes and items to develop.
The game begins with a tutorial that teaches the player the basic mechanics. The first step for the tutorial is to build a village and we can accomplish this by first marking a location on the world map as a safe spot. We are tasked with building the town and trying to recruit more people and this is accomplished by doing various side quests including building basic rooms, workshop and kitchen. The village has its own level like an standard RPG and it can be leveled up by building various new features for the village. We can create an item like Pot or Chest, and it will add points for leveling up the village.
The start of the game is relatively straight forward and the tutorial does a great job of explaining the basics. The item building relies on the gathered material by the player and to build each new item, a set amount of materials are needed. Once acquired, player can head to the workshop bench to build these items. They can be then utilized to develop the village. We can build the doors, beds and torches among other things. We can also build items like weapons and armor to help protect the main character from any danger.
Square Enix has done a great job in localizing the game. The game’s writing is witty and charming, while some of the exchanges between the main character and other NPCs is often hilarious. The translation appears to have retained the original spirit of the Japanese version, which is just meant to be a lighthearted fun. The game is clearly aimed at kids and youngsters but there is no reason to believe it can’t be enjoyed by adults.
What makes Dragon Quest Builders a charming action adventure game is the world of Dragon Quest. and how it is perfectly integrated into the gameplay mechanics. The monsters are all from the past games in the series while the main story is set right after the events in Dragon Quest 1, when the Dark Lord manages to conquer the world. The player is tasked with defeating the Dark Lord while also reclaiming the land that he has taken as his own, while clearing it from the evil.
When you are not working on making your village bigger, you can try to leave and explore the world map. Be prepared to discover many surprises along the way. The new recipes can be learned by discovering materials. There is also a variety of locations available for the player to explore. The materials are harvested through either enemies or by destroying some of the key items in the world.
In a game with exploration, RPG elements and world building, there are bound to be gameplay mechanics revolving around survival. This indeed appears to be the case for Dragon Quest Builders. We can die if we don’t feed the main character on time, as he starts to feel hunger. This hunger can be fulfilled by eating the various fruits and other food scattered throughout the world, or by cooking on our own. We can build a kitchen to cook and store food, which is an essential part of the game.
The weapons and armors also have their own stamina meter and can easily break once their stamina runs out. This means that we have to carry duplicates in case our main weapon or armor breaks down and we are left without any proper protection in a tough situation. Since the village can get attacked by monsters – and it will – we have to keep prepared for any such surprise attack.
Dragon Quest Builders is an interesting take on the Minecraft formula by taking the world of Dragon Quest and adding sprinkles of RPG elements on it, while making sure the core gameplay is solid. It is a great experience overall and highly recommended game for fans of the series. Even if you don’t like Minecraft, you will love it as an action RPG.
Dragon Quest Builders is available now for the PS Vita and PS4. It was developed and published by Square Enix. This review covers the PS4 version of the game.
Dragon Quest Builders Review
Dragon Quest Builders is a great action RPG at its core mixed with the world building and exploration aspects of Minecraft. It is an excellent spin-off from the Dragon Quest series that has an easy learning curve and should be a fun experience for everyone.