A gooreat game!
Game: Dragon Quest Builders
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
(Review copy provided by publisher)
With so many sandbox games out it’s difficult to know what is good and what has flopped. The sheer popularity of Minecraft has allowed the world to sink into the world of sandboxing. However these games are not for everyone and after some time boredom can set in. With the release of Dragon Quest Builders upon us we are due a great combination of crafting that made Minecraft so special aswell as a story progression that makes Dragon Quest what it is today. How does the widely popular Japanese gem hold up as a sandbox game?
Being a huge fan of Dragon Quest I will not say too much about the narrative because I do not want to spoil it. The game starts out with the Dragonlord the main antagonist from previous games; who has plunged the world of Alefgard into Darkness. Before long you awake with a voice talking and your hero arises from near death with no memory of what happened. Although you are weak the voice is in no means sympathetic to you and wants you to stop the evil forces and rebuild the world to it’s former glory; you are then on your way and soon you will find yourself after a brief tutorial outside.
The game is as you would expect, stunning to look at; the rendering distance is huge and everything you see is reachable even if you initially can’t get there. First thing you will find yourself doing is heading to the nearby base clearly shown by a great pillar of light. Once you plant your banner it is time for you to rebuild Alefgard. At this point you will meet your first villager who has seen the light and is amazed by your building skills. For this reason she will get you to do quests for her; such as repairing the holes on her house and putting in a bed and light source so she has somewhere to sleep.
The controls for this game are very simple which helps with the third person view. You smash almost everything with your weapon which after a while you will start creating better weapons which are more suited for fighting and tools which will be better at smashing up the environment. You will even create your own armour aswell which can be either worn or used as aesthetics for your base.
Venturing out you will be destroying just about everything from blocks, twigs and bushes gaining a multitude of items; enemies also drop items that you will need. Meeting the villagers requests will soon find other villagers coming to the base you have worked hard on. This will in turn progress the story and you will receive items for your hard work as you meet requests; most are required but there is a lot of side quests too; some not so obvious and this is determined by how much exploration you do. If you are someone that likes to run out far into lands beyond your reach then you will find yourself disappointed with Dragon Quest Builders. While there are other islands to be explored, you will find yourself stuck in getting to them as a strange force repels you if you try to build over to them; digging underground to them is also impossible as you will very soon hit a hard impenetrable wall. The only way to reach other islands is by meeting the requests of the villagers and soon you will obtain portals which you can place in your base to reach these new lands.
New lands will reward you with new items aswell as new requests from the villagers; exploration is key as how much you do helps determine your progress in the chapter. As you build your base further you will increase its level; once in a while you will fend your base off from enemies. These are small battles in which you will fight enemies in succession with a leader at the end who is usually a lot tougher. Your villagers will help you fight these which is really helpful. The battles are not usually difficult but annoying as these enemies will start destroying your base and if you are someone like me who is very proud it is difficult to maintain a nice decor so you will want end of these battles as soon as possible to minimize destruction.
Much like other games of this genre you have a health and hunger bar. Both of which need to be maintained. Medicine and food are both easily obtained and crafted in your base; you can even set it up so villagers will craft the stuff for you as long as the workshop is sufficient enough and they will put it in the chests for you and is more useful in the long run. Health is notably easier to remember but hunger can be easier to forget; an empty stomache will find your health degenerating slowly however this is easily remedied; just remember to take plenty of food aswell as medical items for any well spent time away from home. There are food items that restore both health and hunger but these are found later on in the game. Another important item you should keep plenty for the travels is the Chimaera Wing; this will teleport you back to base and is especially useful when you are in a dire situation such as low on health, hungry or when it is night time where the presence of enemies is much higher. Enemies will attack the base more of a night and will mostly try to destroy it in the process. If you decide to sleep you will awake the next day with full health; it is also a good idea to do if you decide not to work on the base during the night and don’t feel like fixing it up after an attack as sleeping will take this labour away.
There are some really cool aspects bought to the table; one of which is to turn many dirt blocks into something more appealing such as stone or to turn the floor to hay by the press of one button. This saves you much time knocking down structures just to replace it with something else at a later point. If you decide to knock it down it will even be destroyed in its current foundation form rather than dirt. Another great feature is the Colossal Coffer; this is a giant treasure chest that will save you time and effort of running back to base when your inventory becomes full. The great thing about this is that it can be placed in your base and anything that you pick up automatically goes into it and it can be accessed at any time. It can also be took down and put somewhere else without needing to remove anything inside and will still retain the original contents as it was. There is even a tidy up feature which sorts inventory and anything in chests to keep everything clean.
The game follows the Dragon Quest style as you would expect from the graphics, music and the re-occurring monsters; slimes, she-slimes, drackys. golems and even the infamous metal slime all make their appearances. The slime even becomes a part of your village and speaks to you in nothing but slime puns with that inviting sense of humour felt throughout the series.
If you are wanting to get straight into the building only aspect of this game you will be limited to the amount you can make and may get bored if questing isn’t your thing; however after the first chapter you will open up Terra Incognita; a realm beyond the borders of Alefgard where you can build freely. It is worth noting however that unless you complete the game then this mode will be limited in what you can build; completing the story campaign is only the beginning and it most definitely worth investing hundreds of hours into. Terra Incognita also allows you to create your own structures which can be shared with the world; there is even a area where you can pit against fiends in the battle arena. It is also worth mentioning that if building is not your thing and you are just in it for the story you are not required to make over-complicated bases and houses although that begs the question of why are you playing Dragon Quest Builders?
What else can I say about this game? It’s Minecraft and Dragon Quest. The campaign is just the beginning. If you have invested as many hours as I have into this game it just shows how easy it is to get lost in the world of Dragon Quest Builders. Not only is it a great Dragon Quest game but it far surpasses any sandbox game I have played. What you can make in this game is only limited to your imagination and the time you have to invest into it.