NS Review – Dragon Quest Builders 2

Honestly I came into Dragon Quest Builders 2 not amazingly excited despite being a huge Dragon Quest fan as I hadn’t played the first nor am I fan of building games. Oh boy was I wrong! Square Enix have created a masterpiece that had me hooked from the get go. I was greeted by the nostalgia of the classic Dragon Quest theme which sets any fan up ready for a thrilling adventure. The story starts with followers of Hargon (the children of Hargon) the main antagonist from Dragon Quest II and the most interesting tutorial I think I’ve ever played from story point of view as you’re effectively captive willingly doing chores for monsters just because you love building so much you don’t seem to care who you build for. This immediately had me wanting to know more about the story even if I wasn’t into building.

Somebody’s been overcharged by a cowboy in the past.

You soon meet a lone man by the name of Malroth, is it the same Malroth that Hargon resurrected in Dragon Quest II? Immediately after meeting this strange man who shares his name with ancient beast the subject matter becomes rather dark for a game that appears graphically at least to be aimed at a younger audience as you find corpses and Malroth discusses killing a girl to “shut her up”. Perhaps this is our cue to not judge a book by it’s cover or in this case a game by its art style. With all the nods to the NES classics it seems to me the Minecraftesque art style is more a consequence of a 3D NES throwback a la 3D Dot Game Heroes on PS3 than a rip off of Minecraft.

There’s always one.

Much like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon you spend your time effectively doing chores for people in your own damn sweet time. If you feel like taking a few days or even a year out of the quest to build a humongous castle that’s not a problem. Not that the game counts time other than a day and night cycle but it never rushes you giving it that laid back vibe coupled with a best of both combining the best bits of just about every chilled out game of a similar vein minus the ability to date NPCs and tame monsters. That would’ve truly make Dragon Quest Builders 2 legendary. What Dragon Quest Builders 2 does have over all those other games is a story worth playing the game for. You soon find out that the children of Hargon still control the lands in which the game takes place and they have ingrained the fact that builders are evil people that bring misfortune so people are wary of you. That is until they find out how super amazing you are anyway. I’m also itching to find out who this Malroth in human form is or will he eventually betray us? And will the children of Hargon wage war against us? 

Red sky at night, time to eat Angel Delight.

The main gameplay loop consists of doing quests for villagers in order to learn new skills/bring more villagers/improve the village etc. There is constant guidance so it’s always clear what to do to progress the story. It’s open and linear at the same time which I love as I can do whatever I want whenever I want but am never lost not knowing what to do next or if you don’t play for 6months it won’t be a problem jumping straight back in. 

Yes I know I’m great.

But what do you actually spend your time doing in Dragon Quest Builders 2? Well you spend a lot of time with your trusty hammer mashing all things into basic materials that you collect in order to craft objects and build buildings, farms, weapons, interior design objects and the like. You then carefully craft what start out like mud huts with no roofs and basic farms with fences around them, along with beds, tables, fires, stools etc. As you progress you learn more recipes to create as you are a genius that thinks of new recipes on the spot and the sky becomes the limit of the wonders you can create just have a look online at some of the amazing things the Japanese have been up to. I often found it difficult to place blocks in the right place as they’d have a tendency to end the space next to where I was aiming for which is mildly frustrating but easily sorted with your trusty hammer at no material loss. You build up villages starting on one island but eventually unlock multiple islands and villages to build. You have to farm but luckily Square Enix have taken all the tedium out of farming by making villagers do most of the work and as you level up your town through completing quests and pleasing your loyal villagers they become more useful, cooking and even building your blueprints eventually. Then there’s the classic Dragon Quest monsters roaming about, some friendly and give advice, most need a good whack with your good ol’ reliable sword. Fighting monsters couldn’t be more basic, you whack them with your sword or do a charge attack, it’s simple and surprisingly not boring but could be a lot more thrilling. 

That’s it you cook my dinner for me.

The graphics are fine nothing wowed me but they definitely are not ugly, everything screams classic NES Dragon Quest nostalgia with updated visuals, even the main font text boxes hark back to the old games. 

How dare you break into our bathhouse.

If you’ve played a Dragon Quest before you already know the soundtrack will be nostalgic and magical. If not your in for an orchestral treat mixed with some classic RPG sound effects. It works beautifully to meld the epicness of your quest with the blocky graphics. 

Some people make truly magical towns.

Once the game has loaded there is no real loading other than if you travel to a different Island. The gameplay is perfectly smooth with no slowdowns what did surprise me was how much Dragon Quest Builders 2 drains the Switch’s battery, it barely lasts over 2 hours.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 couldn’t be truer to life, there’s always a queue for the toilet.

Where Dragon Quest Builders 2 really succeeds is how easy to play and addictive it is, you constantly learn new skills, unlock new things to craft, unlock more abilities for your villagers and can easily plan to play 10minutes and play 2hours as you’re curious what you’ll unlock next. Where the sequel really prevails over the original is how streamlined it is, literally the only thing I found clunky was the building itself but that could just be me. The best thing about the game, you don’t actually have to love the building to love the game. Building was easily my least favourite part of the game but I still love Dragon Quest Builders 2 and am in for the long haul and boy oh boy is it shaping up to be a long haul.

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