When I took my usual binge on video game rentals, I scoured around for something that stuck out as a little more unusual to my tastes. I had exhausted runs with the bigger titles like Deus Ex and Nioh (seriously, after the fourth time renting the games, the clerk flat out asked “Why haven’t you bought these games by now?”) and was feeling daring. Having never touched a Dragon Quest game, I had no idea what to expect when I found a lone copy of Dragon Quest: Builders available for rental. While I am now well aware of the difference between the game itself and the franchise it hails from, I could have never expected the adventure ahead.
Almost immediately, the game doesn’t shy away from the prestigious roots it has had in the JRPG genre- your character is given the “you are the only person who can save the world” treatment that Yuji Horii arguably cemented as the go to introduction for video games way back into the NES days. Where such a tried and true franchise built on tradition might through you for a loop, however is what comes after those familiar beats. Instead of being tasked with destroying some evil sorcerer, you must rebuild the world itself. You see, the reason for this is quite simple: the battles have already been had. Humanity has lost, and evil won. The lands are barren and those who are still alive live like cave people. It might take some creative gymnastics to get around this concept, but your character is the only person alive who can build things. Yes- no one else knows how to build things.
Every chapter of the game takes a new setting and story and pits you up against new enemies as you attempt to rebuild civilizations. Materials to build are found by questing, hunting, and gathering for resources as well as networking with the indigenous people of whatever kingdom lost your character has traveled to. There are quirky individuals who give a full pallet of traits and keep things fresh for more hours than the formula has any business being. The game was so charming that I actually heeded the words of the clerk and went to my local store to buy the game...only it wasn’t the AAA titles I was playing. It was a $27 copy of Dragon Quest: Builders.
How the title escaped me for so long was a true mystery, until I did a little bit of research on various game forums and gathered what the general consensus was: this game was viewed as a Minecraft clone.
Minecraft certainly is a title that doesn’t need an introduction, but with the understanding that every youth is just as exposed to the Microsoft owned (and this is also important as Minecraft has been pushed on every copy of Windows 10 there is...legally anyways) title as they are LEGOs these days, it probably should come as no surprise that there is a lot of push-back. What really intrigues me, however, is that a lot of people pointed to the similarities of the two games, inspiration and all, without pointing out the easily known fact: Builders looks light years better than its inspiration.
If everyone refused to challenge themselves to build (no pun intended) upon the foundation laid with innovations before them, then civilization as a whole would be incredibly underdeveloped and incredibly complacent with mediocrity. The very principle of modern development and creativity is the appeal of these sort of games, and to refuse to acknowledge that the original needs to be upgraded is downright foolish. I daresay everything that Minecraft can do can be done immensely better in Builders. The graphics aside, there are many more monsters, items, and areas to explore. There is a fascinating lore that is absent from the other (not including the supplemental games made by entirely different studios). Most importantly, the game rushes the player with a sense of adventure. That’s not only what Minecraft was meant to be about, but also JRPGs as well.
Chances are you can nab this title for pretty cheap at a local store, or order it online at a discount. It is a must for households with creative children, and it gives plenty for grown adults, too. With the Switch copy coming out next month, it should be circled on the calendar for that platform, no doubt.
Thanks for reading my article! Leave a comment with your opinions below, and I promise I’ll give it a look. Take care!