Title: Dragon Quest Builders
Platform: PS Vita|PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Square Enix Holdings
Publisher: Square Enix Holdings
Release date: October 14
tl;dr: Dragon Quest and Minecraft came together to make a goal-oriented building sim.
Price: £40 / $50 / €50
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Long ago, the land of Alefgard was plunged into darkness by the evil Dragonlord, the ruler over all monster-kind. The people of the land were forced out of their homes by the hordes of monsters, but one day, a figure emerged from nowhere known as the Legendary Builder. It’s now your duty to help rebuild civilisation to normal and to take down the evil Dragonlord.
Originally, I wasn’t sold on Dragon Quest Builders; it’s Minecraft with a purpose, in the simplest of terms. Whilst Minecraft is open ended and free from the get go, Dragon Quest Builders places you within the story of the game and you must complete the first chapter before you’re allowed into Terra Incognita (Free Mode).
Dragon Quest Builders is a what-if story based on the ending of the first Dragon Quest game. Where the hero accepted the Dragonlord’s offer for rule over half of the land ended up being a ruse to kill the hero, leading the plot to Dragon Quest Builders. The game then opens with you creating the Legendary Builder allowing you to change the gender, hair and eye colour making your builder feel very personal to you. Afterward, your character awakes in a dark underground dungeon on the brink of death, where the game teaches you how to play through a series of tasks in a very traditional RPG sense. Finally, you set out to place the flagpost in a nearby desolate town under the guidance of the Goddess to begin the restoration of the world.
In Dragon Quest Builders, you’re free to explore the world, although you’re limited to what you can do until you progress the story where you acquire better tools, recipes, and blueprints. All of these allow you to progress to other islands and build higher level materials to make your town more secure against the enemies and giving it a personal flair or give you more advanced equipment to farm more materials either from the environment or by battling familiar and iconic monsters from the Dragon Quest franchise.
What makes this game unique from other building simulator games is the traditional RPG elements such as, creating new armor, weapons, and shields to protect you in the wilds of Alefgard. Not only that you can raise your health by obtaining an item called the Seed of Life; this raises your maximum HP by five each time you use one and these are acquired by completing story quests, plus they are scattered about the world map in chests. Whilst Minecraft is procedurally generated, Dragon Quest Builders’ Alefgard is the same for everyone upon starting the game.
Terra Incognita is the free mode of the game, away from the various fetch quests and mandatory protection of your town missions. This is a mode where you are quite literally free to enjoy yourself and build until your heart’s content. But unfortunately, certain recipes and blueprints are locked behind challenges within the four chapters of the story. These challenges range from defeating three dragons in one chapter or completing a chapter within a certain amount of in-game days, none of which are too challenging with the simple help of a guide.
Square Enix always know how to create something beautiful and vibrant, Dragon Quest Builders is no exception. The graphics really bring Akira Toriyama’s character designs to life in a visually stunning cel-shaded world. The cutscene and gameplay graphics blend perfectly as if they were an interactive CGI animated movie, but from spending a majority of my gaming life with Square titles, this is no surprise at all.
Overall, Dragon Quest Builders is a perfectly fun game, and although Dragon Quest and Minecraft may look weird on paper, it turned out to be the perfect little match made in heaven. It’s perfect for the family of all ages, giving the children something colourful and entertaining to play whilst the dialogue gives parents and fans of the franchise something chuckle about. Dragon Quest Builders is a solid game with the story mode giving a generous fifty hours of gameplay alone, and challenges to give an extra scoop of replayability, this is a game that should tide you over for a long time.
- Beautiful and well presented.
- Perfect homage to the legendary series of Dragon Quest.
- Endless fun thanks to challenges and Terra Incognita.
- No Co-Op in Terra Incognita Mode.
- Travelling can be tedious due to speed.
- The dialogue boxes above characters can be a little hard to read.
Dragon Quest Builders is Japan’s answer to Minecraft making it open to the whole family.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review disc for PlayStation 4. The disc was supplied by the developer for review purposes.