Dragon Quest Builders (PS4, Vita, PS3)

dragon_quest_builders_packshot_us-minDragon Quest Builders mixes the classic Japanese RPG game with the sandbox elements of Minecraft. Combined, they create a story-oriented game that focuses on exploration, combat, and world building. By harvesting resources through exploration and combat, you must use your unique “builder” abilities to save the kingdom. Along the way, you encounter new characters who will join you in your self-made expanding village. Dragon Quest Builders provides Dragon Quest fans a unique take on the Dragon Quest realm (known as Dragon Warriors in the U.S.) and it provides Minecraft (or Terraria) fans a more story focused game. Like combining peanut butter or chocolate, fans of either should find the combination pleasing to the palate.

Dragon Quest Builders starts with a cutscene of the realms entering a dark age. After many years, you appear and are soon seen to be a “maker.” You are the first and (so far) only being in the world able to create new things. Starting out in the husk of an abandoned village, you will start to rebuild as you explore the area and meet new people. As you progress and help those you meet, they will move into your town (and will give additional building requests.) Resources for building are found both from the environment (mining, harvesting, etc…) as well as from defeating roaming monsters. Whenever you encounter new resources (coal, copper, feathers, sap, etc..) new recipes are unlocked.



You don’t need to build every recipe you found, but most recipes fall into three categories. Some will make you more powerful (better weapons, healing potions, etc…), some will unlock more advanced building opportunities (such as building a workbench or kiln), and other recipes will construct objects for the sole purpose of decorating the buildings in your village. This is great fun for those that like to fiddle around with customizing one’s home, but even the adventure gamers will want to put a little effort into improving their home town as town and building improvements are a significant portion of one’s ongoing score in the game.

Personally, I find some of the early game a bit slow. With most Dragon Quest games, the plotline is quite linear and this is no different. Set tasks must be followed to unlock more building options. However, after the initial start, the game picks up and becomes more free form. I also find the interface a bit frustrating. Thankfully, managing one’s inventory is a breeze, and only a little way into the game you’re given a magic chest to store anything you pick up that doesn’t “fit” in your personal inventory. The issue is with the building controls. The interface clearly marks where the next block will be placed, but the controls are just a tad “twitchy” so it may take a few tries to line everything up just right.



Your perspective on the game will be influenced by your past gaming experiences. If you have played previous Dragon Quest titles, you may find Builders provides a unique way to progress your character and interact with your environment. Gamers familiar with Minecraft will find a much more story and purpose driven mode (without resorting to a “game on rails” style found in Minecraft Story Mode.) On the flip side, Dragon Quest players may find all the crafting and building required to be getting in way of the “action” while Minecraft players will have to deal with a slightly more restrictive mode of play (fewer options, no modding, and slower access to some of the more unique construction materials.) However, the game does an excellent job of merging the two modes. In the final verdict, my sons have found it extremely enjoyable and I can recommend it highly as a great family-friendly game.

Kid Factor:
If your kid can handle Minecraft (both the building and the monsters) they should be fine with Dragon Quest Builders. Interactions with NPCs is through text dialogue so reading or having someone read to you is a must. There are cartoon monsters to fight, with little cartoon fights and dying monsters disappearing with a “puff” of smoke. One must be able to place blocks and use menus to construct new things, but anyone familiar with a controller should be OK. All in all, a very kid-friendly game.

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