February 08, 2018

Dragon Quest Builders - Switch Review

When Dragon Quest Builders first released back in 2016, a lot of people were calling it a Minecraft clone, I was among them, but it had enough interesting things going for it, I had to give it ago. When Switch was announced this one game that I wanted to be brought over and now that it is here, so how did it fare?

Dragon Quest Builders tells a basic story, though one linked to the series roots, you are a builder, chosen by the goddess Rubbis to help rebuild the world, after the hero of the first game, chose to side with the Dragonlord, and plunge the world into darkness. Many years have passed, before you are revived and set upon making the world safe for humans to call home again, of course, as you are the builder, that is how you will achieve the goal. Each of the regions that you visit has a distinct look and feel, though they do have a few overlapping areas, why this is important is that each region has their own issues, the people that live within all react and behave according to their situations, with the residents of Kol being especially humorous.

As you enter the first world, you will be gifted a flag by Rubbis, and then you must head to the beam of light and plant it there, which in turn will call someone to visit you. This is where you get the lowdown on what is happening in this region and from there, you start to obtain new missions and quests, the game can take a bit to get going, but once you know what you need to do, its easy to move forward. From the outset, you start with nothing, but as you progress, you will start to discover more materials that you use to build better items for yourself and for the town you are building up. Rubbis only pops up, as a voice, a few times to let you know that no matter what, you are not the hero, you are merely the builder, so that is your job, to build.

The game does a decent job of letting you build things without needing to know complicated recipes or fancy charts to follow, you just need the required items and you are on your way. There are times when the game throws blueprints at you and while you need to follow them exactly the first time, there is nothing stopping you from demolishing that to rebuild it in a better spot. Getting out and exploring the regions that surround your base is simple, the game loads up very fast and the time spent between each region is minimal. Each region is filled with enemies from the Dragon Quest universe, so fans of the series are going to be delighted to see their Slime or whatever other enemy is their favourite, roaming around the world. Taking the time to invest in your base early on is also another crucial part you need to consider, as you level it up more and more enemies will come to attack your base and while early on its not a big threat, as they get more powerful, they can really destroy sections of your base, so keep it safe is important.

What Dragon Quest Builders does well, it does very well, crafting items and building bases is really well done, the simple interface does have a few issues that I had hoped they had fixed for this release, but sadly its just a port. The game however does still have the same issues as the original release, you lose everything you have crafted when you travel between realms, which is a pain, but more so, the people in your base still do random and crazy things. There are times when I would be trying to locate someone to complete a quest, only to find that they had ‘fallen’ outside of the base, because they like to climb the walls. All that aside though, the gameplay is very well crafted, pun intended and while I would have liked to have seen some fixes here, its still a wonderful game. Taking time to enjoy the Terra Incognita mode is also worth doing, purely because it gives you the freedom to just enjoy the game, without the worry of monsters or set goals. As you progress in the story, you will find yourself unlocking more islands and if you happen to complete the multiple hidden missions in each world, before you leave it, you will also unlock more goodies. Terra Incognita is just a fun place to let your imagination free, build what you want and where you want and if you happen to think you have a great idea, you can share that online as well.

The Switch thankfully plays the game just as well as the PlayStation 4 version, the buttons are the same though, so the same frustration I had with not being able to change around the button layout. Performance wise though, the game runs like a dream, on the PlayStation 4 version, I encountered a few crashes of the game, on the Switch, not a single one. There are of course, some differences, the visuals are not as sharp, but when playing from a zoomed-out view, it matters not, only if you zoom in, which I only do when I enter caves or such, do you see the less the lack of sharpness. The game does load incredibly fast, apart from the initial load of a world, something that happens when you first go to a new area, I never saw or experienced any slowdown at all.  The music is the same cheery tunes from the original release and that’s fine by me, its bright and colourful in its tone, that you just can’t help but bop your ahead along.

Dragon Quest Builders is a fantastic game, one I thought was going to be a shameless cash in, but I was proven wrong when it first came out and now that its on Switch, I have come to love the taste of humble pie. The game is perfect for the platform, being able to pick it up, knock out a quick quest or get that building finished in a few minutes is great, but being able to settle in for a long session exploring Cantlin, Kol or the Terra Incognita, where you can just do what you want, is perfect.

Review copy provided by Nintendo

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