I’ll admit it – I’m just not a Minecraft fan. Not that I’m putting down those that spend hours at a time getting into the game – they certainly have a reason to enjoy it – but it just never “caught on” with me. I dunno if it was the blocky nature of the game or the idea that it takes so long to build an ideal utopia, it just never caught on.
That said, Dragon Quest Builders seems like an ideal alternative to that, providing the ability to build stuff while, at the same time, creating quests that are true to the nature of the series. It’s a combination that, for so many reasons, shouldn’t work, but, surprise, it absolutely does here. And fans certainly won’t get enough of it.
The Dragonlord has made a real cluster of your world, trying to take away any resources of creativity that the citizens so heavily lean on, and overrunning the area with many demons as well. Your character, however, has the intuition to build, which will come in handy when it comes to revitalizing not only villages, but also the world in itself, as you try to show the Dragonlord a thing or two.
Dragon Quest Builders does require a little patience. You basically start with nothing, having to build your first village from scratch to attract others. Fortunately, the game’s tutorial system is convenient in a number of ways, so you can form items with ease and figure out what resources work best. The bigger your village becomes, the more the game’s possibilities stretch out, with more quests to take on. Most of them are building-oriented (and not so much, say, big-time RPG battles like other Dragon Quest games have become known for), but that’s the theme of the game and Builders sticks with it extremely well.
There is some battling to be done, though, since the monsters can be a real pain in the neck to you and your fellow citizens. There’s a great system put in place here, which fans of Dragon Quest will easily get into. Some of the battles can be a bit tough, but overall you’ll find prompt rewards for taking on these creatures, and then going back to flourishing your surroundings.
In addition to the main story mode (where you’ll learn the in’s and out’s of building and eventually create a superb world all your own), there’s also a neat Free Build mode, which opens up after starting the game for a little bit. You’ll be able to use any resources you collect over the course of the game here, and it’s a great mode for those that can’t get enough of their Minecraft-ish intuitions. Consider it a side distraction from the main event, but a good one.
Where Dragon Quest Builders differs from being “just another Minecraft game” is with its presentation. The game is built (no pun intended) like an old-school RPG, but with beautiful visuals that bring the world to life. It definitely dials in to the classic vibe of the series, even if there are times that the camera can be a bit iffy with indoor areas. It’s not a big deal, though. The music is also pleasant, a fun diversion as you bring your world to life.
No, Dragon Quest Builders won’t take everyone off the Minecraft building path, but it’s a great diversion for those that can’t get into that game, or simply want a role-playing hook that rewards them as they continue on quests and fight against the Dragonlord’s minions. It’s a fun follow-up to last year’s The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below, offering a unique take that will attract a different kind of audience. There’s nothing wrong with building on that.