Dragon Quest Builders is a far cry from the standard Dragon Quest games. Dragon Quest Builders takes a stab at the ever popular “Minecraft” collect and craft genre and totally nails it. Despite it being from the same genre, Builders has a strong feeling of uniqueness that keeps the game interesting and fresh, which is a welcome change from the many other games in the genre. This game is perfect for kicking back on the couch, relaxing and enjoying yourself.
Builders is broken up into four chapters, with an optional, basically free-play mode, called Terra Incognita. Four chapters may sound like a short game, but the amount of content and each chapter can keep you playing for an extended amount of time. Not only the content, but each chapter has a wonderful sense of uniqueness to them. Each chapter has a new environment, with three portals that bring you to different islands to progress in the chapter. The great thing about Dragons Quest Builders is how each chapter has just the right amount of difference to keep things feeling fresh. Each chapter comes with different NPCs, new enemies, new materials, new crafting recipes, new music and more.
As nice as that all is, there are some things that remain the same throughout. Each chapter you start basically fresh, losing all surplus materials and all the work you put into your previous town. This can feel a bit disheartening at times, as the grind up for materials and upgrades can feel a bit sluggish and boring. It’s not particularly difficult either, which leaves it feeling tedious and boring. Luckily the game makes up for it with the changes in the environment that keeps you invested.
Dragons Quest Builders at it’s simplest formula, is about gathering materials, building up your small town and doing quests for the NPCs. The formula is consistent throughout chapters but each quest has a different charm to it, as well as a different boss fight in the end, that clearly separates it from the other chapters and NPC quests. As I first booted up the game I was extremely excited to just head in one direction and explore, after getting through the tutorial I became less excited when I noticed the main character’s movement speed felt like molasses. Luckily the game fixes that problem quickly by allowing you to craft armor that increases movement speed as well as introducing “Chimera Wings”- an item that allows you to teleport directly back to your base.
Of course, no game is ever perfect, and it comes with some grievances. The combat is something that could’ve certainly been fleshed out a bit more. Obviously it’s not something required in a building/crafting game, but the inclusion of it and the lack of attention towards it leaves something to be desired. Each chapter introduces something a bit different, ranged weapons, bombs, etc., but none really feel like they add any depth. The formula is consistently: smack with sword, walk a few steps back avoiding damage, rinse repeat. You are given a shield, but similar to some Dragon Quest games, you cannot block with it, it just gives you more defense. With the addition of blueprints for specific buildings to be built for your town during quests, the amount of buildings in your small town space quickly adds up. This usually forces you to make a tight, cramped town, unless you get creative and decide to make a two story building. The third person camera is completely not built for this. You’ll find yourself constantly resetting the camera in order just to see what’s in front of you, which make accessing crafting tools or chests a huge pain.
That being said, this game still caters to you on an extreme scale. You never have to put the specific crafting ingredients in your inventory, as they’re automatically taken from whatever chest they’re in, regardless of where you are. You are also able to build a chest called the, “Colossal Chest.” This allows you to access an extremely large chest, so large you most likely won’t fill it, wherever you are in the game. Also if your inventory becomes full, it will automatically send items to said chest. Sometimes these additions can make the game feel a bit “spoon-fed” to you, and at other times, it can also feel extremely convenient.
Overall, I had a ton of fun with this game, and even after beating it I’m still having fun. With the multiple challenges it reveals after beating the specific chapter, going back to beat them gives the game some replay value. That along with the creative freedom of each chapter and Terra Incognita mode gives yourself a lot of enjoyable play time.
Release Date - October 11, 2016
Dragon Quest Builders was purchased for review purposes