My time with Dragon Quest Builders was delightful, yet simple


There's room to grow

With the runaway success Minecraft has had, I don't blame many eastern studios for trying to emulate the formula. It's gotten to the point where a new voxel-like sandbox game pops up every few weeks or so, and even Square Enix is getting in on the fun with Dragon Quest Builders.

But you know what? I'm digging (ha) what I'm seeing so far from it.

I could tell right away this isn't some rushed-out-the-door knockoff. I love that it's set in the world of Alefgard, and is a direct follow-up to the first Dragon Quest, also known as Dragon Warrior in the west. It's fitting on a personal level to see the series come full circle like this, as Warrior on the NES was the first JRPG I ever played. To say I had a smile on my face while galloping about the wilderness and running past wyverns and drackys is an understatement. 

Don't get me wrong, Builders' aping of Minecraft permeates through just about every orifice of the game, sometimes to its detriment. You whack objects (like dirt mounds) to acquire them, you build in squares, multiple elements are required to produce items based on a formula, there's a food meter -- I could go on. Some of these elements don't necessarily translate well, as placing down objects (particularly blocks) can be finicky with the overhead view. There are also other niggling issues like the inability to swim (limiting your exploration when reaching large bodies of water), and simplistic enemy AI. Though that last bit might be due to my early-game build limitations, as I did find an optional boss-like dragon creature.

The blemishes are as clear as day, but Builders also has some unique elements to it. For one, instead of just featuring an open-ended "build stuff" decree (which it has, in the form of a "Free Build" mode), its main draw is a more pointed campaign with a quest system and an actual story. Players are tasked with recreating Alefgard after it has fallen into darkness, meeting townsfolk along the way, and discovering new areas through a chapter-based narrative. Some of them will gift you blueprints, another unique mechanic that allows players to place an outline on the ground and build around it. The whole setup reminds me of a more intimate Dark Cloud-like affair, as does the mechanic of helping out villagers. It's pretty, too! The soundtrack is impressive while maintaining a reverence for the source material, as is the art style with the classic Toriyama designs.

While the first chapter is a tad simple and hand-holdy, I can see a lot of potential here. I don't know if I can spend thousands of hours getting lost in the world of Dragon Quest Builders like I have with Minecraft, but so far it reminds me of 3D Dot Heroes in all the right ways. Stay tuned for our full review in October, and you can watch the first 20 minutes of the game above.

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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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