Dragon Quest Builders review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix/Armor Project/Bird Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Leaderboards

As much as I’d like to pretend otherwise, I’m not a particularly creative person, at least when it comes to video games. Give me a wide open world with no directions or set goals, and I become paralyzed with indecision. It’s a big reason why I’ve never been able to get into games like Minecraft, Terreria, or even Don’t Starve, despite repeated attempts. I’ll take a linear plot and clear objectives any day of the week.

This explains why I’m such a fan of Dragon Quest Builders. While, at heart, it’s not all that different from Minecraft — you’re still in a sandbox, able to build things to your heart’s content — it gives the game an RPG sheen that makes it much easier for people like me, who have neither the time nor the inclination nor the talent to, say, build a space shuttle or create a scale model of my bedroom. There’s a story here, complete with chapters: you’re the Legendary Builder, and it’s up to you to restore humanity’s imagination and overthrow the evil Dragonlord. There are quests. There are enemies to fight. Essentially, this is a game that takes the best parts of both worlds, crams them together, and makes something well worth a look.

What makes it work, I think, is that it doesn’t demand too much of players. That’s not to say it’s not a demanding game, or that it’s too easy. Rather, I mean that it has a low barrier to entry. Being a Dragon Quest fan probably helps you enjoy it more, but it’s not like being deeply immersed in the franchise’s lore is a prerequisite for enjoying the game. Similarly, it doesn’t expect you to memorize all kinds of crazy controls, or learn lots and lots of different skills. Everything — from crafting, to combat, to movement, to the camera — is wonderfully intuitive.

Of course, what probably helps even more is that Dragon Quest Builders knows how to suck you in and keep you interested. The game is broken down into chapters, with each chapter representing a new area of the game opening up to you. It’s an interesting way of setting things up, and it makes the sheer size of the world seem a little less intimidating — which is a good thing, because Dragon Quest Builders’ world is pretty sizeable.

But, I want to emphasize, not so sizeable that it’ll throw off people who find the prospect of another Minecraft to be a little daunting. Dragon Quest Builders will undoubtedly scratch the itch of any Minecraft/Terraria fans looking for their next favourite game, but it’s accessible enough that RPG fans should enjoy it, too.

Grade: A