(Disclaimer: A code for this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes)
If you have heard anything about Dragon Quest Builders, then you probably know it is what you would get if Minecraft and the Dragon Quest series had a baby. After spending time playing through the Nintendo Switch version of Dragon Quest Builders, it’s more apparent that this title is meant for the Minecraft audience rather than Dragon Quest fans.
You can find Dragon Quest Builders reviews all over the web from back when the game initially launched on other platforms. So before I jump into building mechanics and gameplay, I’ll talk Switch differences specifically. In comparison to the PlayStation 4 version, Dragon Quest Builders on Switch is reduced from 1080p to 720p, in both handheld and docked modes. However, the game still runs at a lush 60-frames-per-second when your Switch is docked. Lucky for us, the Switch edition is graphically identical to the PS4 Pro version. The game is only slightly fuzzier than the PS4 version because of the reduced resolution. Aside from that, the game runs extremely smooth with only momentary frame-rate drops every now and then. If I had to recommend a specific version of Builders it would undoubtedly be the Switch edition. As the console’s portability is much more appealing to me than its resolution for a game like this, that isn’t very graphically demanding.
“What Does Build Mean?”
The game starts relatively slowly, the hero finds himself waking up in the bottom of a cave. Equipped with the “building” power, he has the ability to break down blocks, almost everything from the ground, to trees, torches, and can also rebuild these objects wherever he would like. As I said before, the game is very much like Minecraft. If you have spent a lot of time playing the original block-breaking phenomenon Minecraft, then building in Dragon Quest will feel like an inherited trait. I had no problem digging, building, and finding my way around the world.
Unfortunately, the game is a bit slow. Actions feel much more deliberate within Builders than in Minecraft. Although sometimes a deliberate nature is nice to have in more thoughtful games, in a game like Dragon Quest Builders, it would have been nice to build and wreck objects much quicker than I was allowed. I also wish that the game incorporated deeper digging mechanics, quite literally. Dragon Quest Builders only allows you to dig about twenty or so levels below the ground. In a game that takes its origins from Minecraft, it would have been nice to have the ability to explore the depths of Builders on a greater level.
Livin’ The Life
On the surface, there is a focus on building structures to form a small town. In order to build these type of things, you have to venture out onto the over-world and explore. During these segments is when the game feels the most like Dragon Quest. The exploration, music, and magical world — it all had a distinct and familiar feel. The characters look like they were ripped straight out of the core franchise, and of course, the enemies are all familiar as well.
However, on the combat side of things, the gameplay is far less like a core Dragon Quest title. Rather than engaging with enemies through a specified battle screen and turn-based combat, the combat in Builders involves real-time hack and slash type elements. Using weapons crafted in the game, you can battle standard Dragon Quest enemies in real time, take their remains, and use these to craft even more items. This battle system is not necessarily a bad one, just a bit bland, and it is certainly different than what Dragon Quest fans may be used to. Many of the franchise staples are in the game in style, but before picking up the newest Dragon Quest title on Switch, perhaps familiarize yourself with Minecraft first, if you haven’t already. If Minecraft is not for you, to begin with, no amount of Dragon Quest sprucing up will sell you on the title in the end.
Dragon Quest Builders takes all its notes from Minecraft, that’s no secret. Its cutesy art-style and bubbly characters feel right at home on a Nintendo platform. If you’re a fan of Minecraft and want something familiar with a different style and finesse, Dragon Quest Builders will scratch that itch. Unfortunately for die-hard Dragon Quest fans, you won’t get much out of this game that’s set in a universe you’re passionate about. Dragon Quest Builders on Switch brings near-PS4 quality graphics with the portable aspect of the PS Vita. If you’re going to play it anywhere, I recommend the Nintendo Switch.