[ First Impressions ] Dragon Quest Builders

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Equal parts Dragon QuestHarvest Moon, and Minecraft, this curious creation of a video game comes out of nowhere with its blend of creative gameplay that doesn’t really leave out many elements from either of those games and keeps the spirit of each one alive. The game doesn’t really give you much of a premise, much like the latter two games, other than survive, rebuild, and create the world around you using only the things you can find around you. Taking story, dialogue, character, and referential queues from the Dragon Quest franchise, this game integrates everything that made every one of those games great without losing anything great in the process. I wasn’t even sure how battling in a Dragon Quest game would feel to me without the traditional RPG battle setup but things didn’t seem out of place with this game. It all seemed to fit properly and it’s not quite often that an idea that isn’t guaranteed to succeed lands so steadily into the market but it seems to be received well, so far.

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The First Twenty Minutes

In a manner much like its namesake, the game opens up in a rather lackluster fashion that has a very dry wit to it, throwing you into the midst of things with a very simple goal in mind: go to the nearest destroyed city and build that bugger back up. That goal is comprised of many other smaller goals and along the way you make a couple friends, too. I got to work pretty quickly and found myself building and creating pretty quickly, though I did find the quests to break up the momentum by quite a bit; I was figuring things out quickly and it didn’t take me long to pick up certain concepts but the game would have me go through them at, relatively, a snail’s pace. In order to really get anywhere with the demo, I found myself having to do the quests in a linear fashion and while some of them were really fun, most of them just felt too slow-paced for me, especially considering this type of game is the definition of a sandbox game and I should be allowed to play at my own pace. Maybe this is only a problem early on in the game but it was definitely causing some serious snark towards the game in the early steps. I found myself taking my own initiative, at times, just to get away from that. While that was fun for a while, I found that this only lasted for a while before the game insisted I quest in order to get better equipment, better items, and even create some of the things I couldn’t create before. I know, it’s a demo, but somehow I feel that the full game would be like this in the beginning, as well, and that’s kind of a problem. It’s stunting you so that way you don’t progress too quickly and completely forego questing altogether.

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Critical Reception

It seems to be really well-received, which is pretty cool considering that the idea for this game is really kind of bucking a niche trend in the gaming industry that took a lot of people by surprise. Both Dragon Quest fans and fans of world-building games like Minecraft seem to be embracing this game, which is pretty refreshing in this day and age: IGN gave the game an 89, GameRant a 80, and Time a 90; to see a game that doesn’t seem to be divisive and controversial in the mainstream is quite a nice thing to see. It’s a game content to hit the nail on the head for its intended audience and that’s perfectly fine by me.

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The Final Word: Should I Buy?

Truth be told, in spite of the fact that I feel progression is drawn out a little too much, I get a seriously good, peaceful feeling from playing this game. I’ve not been having a good time of things lately and the peace of mind that just aimlessly wandering and creating gave me really made me miss games like Harvest Moon that I really enjoyed, back in high school. While I wouldn’t purchase this game on release day or even at the initial MSRP price of 59.99, that’s not because I don’t think this game isn’t worth that price but rather because I couldn’t justify that price when I’d only play this game casually. If I had more time or was more into this type of game, I would have absolutely no problem spending the regular asking price but I think that as things are right now I might wait until it’s used or the price comes down a little before purchasing.

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