Dragon Quest Builders Review
When Square Enix was looking to develop and publish Dragon Quest Builders on the PS4, it was no secret what was inspiring their motives. Minecraft was, and still is, a huge commercial hit, and while it excels at the building aspects, it falters on story. Other companies have tried to replicate that success with an added story, but with limited success. The latest versions of Harvest Moon instantly come to mind. Square Enix, however, managed to do that when they released Dragon Quest Builders on the PS4. With a metacritic score of 83%, most media outlets praised the game for having humorous writing, a great Dragon Quest story spinoff, and fantastic building and customization options. With the release on Nintendo Switch, not a whole lot has changed, but the biggest difference between the Switch and PS4 should be understandable: portability. How good is Dragon Quest Builders on Nintendo Switch? Read on below to find out more.
It’s Really Good; PS4 Owners Have Known for Years
The 40ish hour adventure through Dragon Quest Builders really began back in 2016 when it was published for the PS4 and PS Vita. While other games on the PlayStation that year took much of the critical acclaim, Dragon Quest Builders quietly built a niche market for itself, and as the months and years passed, more and more individuals became aware of this titles great success. The concept was new, in that it brought a strong single player experience into a sandbox crafting title; other titles have tried, but most have not-surprisingly failed. With the Switch launch, and it’s immediate success that saw nearly 10 million units sold within the first 9 months, it really was no susprise that Square Enix looked to Nintendo of America to publish this title in the west.
From the numerous forums I follow, so many Switch players think they are getting a brand new experience. It is one of the most talked about titles coming to Switch, and while some would see these people as being incredibly unaware and naïve, I’m going to chalk it up this way: there are thousands – potentially millions? – of video game enthusiasts who only own a Nintendo Switch, and that Dragon Quest Builders could be the title that other companies look to and say, “Wow, I want my old, successful title on that platform.”
But What Do You Do? Isn’t It Just Minecraft?
Dragon Quest Builders falls into line with the new genre of graphically superior, 3D crafting titles. Portal Knights instantly comes to mind, although minus the in-depth story. And that is what ultimately sets Dragon Quest Builders apart. While we aren’t talking about a typical RPG story that involves numerous plot twists and deep character progression, we are still talking about a story that keeps you entertained, moving forward, and learning new and exciting things. As the only builder left in Alefgard, it is up to you to restore the world of Alerfgard and rebuilding one of its once magnificent towns. Only you poses the knowledge to build. As you collect resources and destroy enemies, you will collect various resources, which will in turn allow you to instantly learn new crafting recipes. While not everything is obtained this way, most is, meaning exploration is key to success.
As you build up your town, more residents will arrive, and look for a room. These individuals will have varying views on what has happened to Alefgard, and some might even be in conflict with each other over what steps you as the builder should take. These moments won’t affect how the story plays out, however, as each villager will continue providing you increasingly more difficult tasks to complete, such as to search out a specific person, build a specific structure, or cook certain foods. Although it may sound difficult, the game eases you into these new game play elements, so that even my eight year old son could move through at a steady pace.
Sandbox Mode – Endless Fun
Getting through the main story will be required to unlock all the games crafting and building materials, but once that is complete, Dragon Quest Builders will keep you coming back with an excellent Sandbox mode that will allow you to harvest and craft to your hearts content. No village area restrictions, no points for building rooms: just pure, crafting fun. Although I haven’t had a ton of time in sandbox mode, the amount of time I spent in the main campaign gathering and building – regardless of whether or not I was scoring points to upgrade my city – is a testament to how much time I’m likely to spend in sandbox mode! With so many options right at your fingertips, and an Internet full of great building ideas and tutorials, the fun is endless.
Not Just for Dragon Quest Fans – Accessible for All
During my time with the game, I’ve build fortified walls, watchtowers, hotels (inns), kitchens, castles, and even a sprawling palace. With so many great items, and tons of different building supplies, if you can think it up, you can probably build it. But what really makes this game hit home for me is the Dragon Quest Overlay. If you removed the Dragon Quest elements from the game, and instead positioned this as a generic RPG with crafting elements, it would still be good. But having that familiar Dragon Quest overlay – including familiar monsters, character models, and backstories – pushes this title into “amazing ” territory. For that reason, it will appeal to two audiences: if you love crafting RPG titles but have no backstory on Dragon Quest, you won’t really be missing too much. It’s a great game. If you do love Dragon Quest, however, there is that extra level of detail that will be instantly recognizable, and will be very appreciated.
Portability- Reason to Buy Again
The biggest selling feature of Dragon Quest Builders on Nintendo Switch is the portability. Having the ability to play this title wherever I go is fantastic, and since the software is not pushing the hardware of the Nintendo Switch too far, the game runs very smoothly off the dock, with the same colourful graphics you’d expect to see on your television. With a fairly low demand on the system, you can go for hours without requiring a charge. For on the go gaming, it doesn’t get much better than this in 2018, at least so far!
For 64.99 CAN – 59.99 USD – you really cannot go wrong with this experience. While the game has been available once before, finding a PS4 physical version can be fairly difficult, and the digital version is still rather pricey for being a two year old title. With the portability of the Nintendo Switch, however, the price becomes almost instantly justifiable; for a game that will provide well over 40 hours of entertainment, regular price is really a bargain!