When first looking into Dragon Quest Builders, I, like many others, had simply passed this game off as a shameless Minecraft clone that brought nothing new to the table. I can happily confirm, that upon playing Dragon Quest Builders, I was an idiot for thinking these things.
Dragon Quest is a series that I have always held dear to my heart, unlike Final Fantasy this series has never received the recognition it deserved with Western Audiences, however, unlike the previous games in the series Dragon Quest Builders adds something completely different to the mix that few RPG’s have ever attempted before it.
Dragon Quest Builders is as great as it is charming, unlike Minecraft before it, the JRPG elements included in DQB offer the player some direction whilst adding much, much more substance to the game. If you do not take anything else from this review then at least take this, if you are a fan of JRPG’s or even a fan of Minecraft: Buy this game. I wholeheartedly cannot recommend it enough.
Before we get into this full review, I will say that it is impossible to talk about Dragon Quest Builders without comparing it to Minecraft, with this in mind…Let’s begin.
Unlike Minecraft, you play DQB in 3rd person with a custom made character dubbed as the ‘Builder’. You spend most of the game farming for materials, in order to make better tools to farm better materials and build better things for your town.
Where this differs from Minecraft, however, is with the Townsfolk who roam the surrounding area, who set you tasks that you must complete to progress through the game and build better things. For me, the structure given by these tasks and by the story created a welcome ”need” to carry on playing, whereas I would just end up bored after a couple of hours with Minecraft.
This does hinder those looking to just get into the game and build things, by forcing you to progress to certain parts of the story and unlock certain materials, tools and blueprints, however.
Another large chunk of the game is spent gathering materials in very much the same way as Minecraft, however the ability to unlock a Zelda-esque spin slash early on cuts a huge chunk of time with this allowing you to mine up to 10 materials all in one go, depending on positioning. This nice little addition cut out a hell of a lot of the monotony that was found in other games, again, like Minecraft.
Much of the world is the standard blocky affair that you would come to expect from building simulation games such as this and Minecraft, as is the necessity in order to allow us to create our bustling cities and unique creations that we so love. Despite this though, the world is absolutely full to the brim of colour, and as soon as you boot up the game it’s clear how much love was put in to create this wonderful world.
The monsters and characters in the game are little block sprite versions of the monsters we have seen over the years with previous Dragon Quest titles, there has been so much care added when creating this game to ensure newcomers and die hard fans will find something to love in the aesthetic design of the game. I find it increasingly difficult to explain just how beautiful a game such as this can be in words; luckily I don’t have too, take a look for yourself at some of my screenshots taken directly from the game as I played it:
Ultimately, there is not much that can be said about the storyline. It is your standard JRPG affair; a monster has destroyed the world, and everyone has lost the ability of magic (in this case to build things),. and you stand alone in the world as the chosen one who still retains this ability, and must use it to make the world back into what it once was.
If you are a fan of JRPG stories, you will find much to love here but truly, it is the unique characters that set it apart from other JRPG’s. One stand out moment for me is from Pippa (one of the towns residents); whilst I was building a kitchen that she wanted to fill some skulls of the resident skeleton enemies and bake them for a dessert…
The characters in Dragon Quest Builders are truly great fun, and bring some light hearted relief after a full session of ensuring all your houses in the city are carpeted with the same colour carpeting.
I have had an absolute blast so far with Dragon Quest Builders; everything from the building of my town to the undertaking of the full JRPG story has had me enthralled from the word go. I honestly believe this could be the game that puts Dragon Quest on the map for western audiences, and feel it is one of the few must-buy games on the PS4.
A game that screams out to the anally creative side of me, as well as the hardcore JRPG lover, I found that once booted up; I was unable to put Dragon Quest Builders down again.
My overall score for this is 9.8/10 simply due to the creative freedom that it gives you which JRPGS seem to of lost in recent years.
Take note Japan, we want more of this.
Reviewed by Luke