bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Nov 22nd 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Dragon Quest, Minecraft, DQ, DQB

11:46 pm.

I've charged my Vita for the third and final time today, though I should mention that I rarely drain my Vita battery to (what appears to be) 40%.  Nonetheless, this represents about five and a half hours of gaming, and to this forty-one year-old full-time IT scrub/husband/father, that is rather significant, especially since this is only on one day.  Not only is this the most I've played a game in a year, but years, perhaps even decades.  So won't you join me, my friends, as we delve head-first at full tilt into Dragon Quest Builders for the Vita.  But first we need to let my Vita charge up a bit more.

To break with tradition, I am writing this part before anything else in this article.  Well, I already wrote the intro, as well as a decent amount of notes and points I would like to cover (which is essentially the article, I guess).  After a solid fifty-two hours of gaming, I have completed all the chapters of Dragon Quest Builders and even dipped my toes into the Terra Incognito, which is the freeform (or sorts) part of the game.  Not with any serious effort, mind you, as I am now deep in the throes of gaming depression, where any game I start will likely be cast aside like used bathwater after a paltry five minutes (or less).  But, fifty-two hours.  I don't normally play games this long anymore, tending to fizzle out around twenty-ish.  But for some reason, one I hope we can explore together, I kept it up strong throughout the entire playthrough.

Dragon Quest Builders (DQB) is an action-RPG (at heart) developed internally at Square Enix originally for a variety of Sony consoles (PS3, PS4, and Vita) throughout 2016, then later for the Nintendo Switch in early 2018.  It was released to near universal praise, though with some often ridiculous statements (in my opinion, more on that later).  You play the protagonist (which you name, and pick either male or female), who is the legendary Builder; the sole person alive in Alefgard who has the power to build.  And that is your job; to build (or rather, rebuild) Alefgard to its former glory before the Dragonlord pretty much wrecked everything.  I found it interesting that the game is based on the alternative ending of the first Dragon Quest/Warrior game, where the Hero instead of duking it out with the Dragonlord at the end, accepts the offer of the Dragonlord to split the ruling of the world in half, with the Hero ruling beside him (so to speak).

Rant time!  When I read reviews (which is rare these days), I tend to keep it simple.  I will read individual user reviews first (as many as I can stand to try to filter out bias), but will occasionally dip into professional game reviews, generally Giantbomb being my sole stop.  However, ever since Gamespot bought Giantbomb, I've increasingly had to go elsewhere for my professional opinions.  On those occasions, I will read both IGN and Gamespot and attempt to connect the dots with the given facts and opinions (much in the way I do with user reviews).  However, on my way I happened to notice the other reviews, that being primarily Kotaku.  Primarily, because it really appears that some other outlets (not IGN or Gamespot) simply copied Kotaku's general observations and opinions.  Sad, really, as what Kotaku has to offer appears to be nothing more than to the pandering to its own audience, which apparently is not your's truly, as it's main duty appeared to be to inform us that DQB is nothing like Minecraft, but rather like Actraiser  Rubbish, I say!  To the stocks with you, Kotaku, and not another word of nonsense from your lips!  Rant done!

To those curious, DQB is uniquely a Dragon Quest title.  It does get its main influence from [/i]Minecraft[/i] (that much is obvious), but only in the choice of building material (that being, blocks).  While there were occasions where I saw the influence more clearly, but for the vast majority of the game it wall-to-wall Dragon Quest, but in real time.  From the graphics to the sound and on to the story, there will be rarely a moment where you will forget what kind of game you are playing.  To focus on only one, I would have to say story is where it is at here.  Like most DQ games, it doesn't bludgeon you over the head with itself (something I think more games should learn from), and expects you to do nothing more than to give it some attention.  There will be serious moments and there will be lighthearted moments.  There will be moments where you will wonder if the game could be any more self-deprecating with its humor.  You might also mutter the phrase, "Wow, that's pretty heavy stuff" more than once as plot plays out.  You will also kill a lot of enemies, avoid quite a few, and run like a sissy for the nearest bed as night falls.  Or build your own frantically as the shadows stretch over the ground before (hopefully) Overworld Night theme plays (aka, the "Ghosts Are About to Come Out and Kick Your Butt" theme).  Personally, I kept a couple different save files at all times, as I was afraid there would be some binary choice I would screw up (spoiler: there isn't).  But please don't let me dissuade you; part of the fun of some of these games is reading what the NPCs say, while specific to this game, exactly what the people think is wrong with the Builder's face (which often gets compared to a potato).

So what do you even do in this game?  In short, build.  I'm not trying to be funny, but that is exactly what you do.  As mentioned before, you are the legendary Builder, the lone person who can fix all that is wrong, at least in the context of making things.  You start with by placing a banner in a set spot on the map, which becomes your base.  You put blocks around it and build things when the villagers (which appear as you progress in the game) ask you.  Much like in Minecraft, you build things by combining gathered resources onto some soft of crafting bench, but unlike in Minecraft you simply get the needed resources (which can be viewed in a submenu) and approach an appropriate "bench" to craft something.  This tends to take the focus off of the process of crafting and place it more in town building and story progression.  You build up your town by making certain rooms (whose requirements can be accessed by menu), which give your town experience and also some secondary benefits to your townspeople (like more HP, or maybe better/stronger equipment).  And also unlike Minecraft, all of this happens organically through the story, so there won't be a moment when you are standing around, trying to figure things out.  You will know what to do (townspeople give hints on things, like resource locations) and how to do it.  This sort of thing really makes an overall difference in gameplay, and in opinion has the potential to bring in more the kinds of players that Minecraft never could, such as players looking for a more story focused experience.  Even the "open world" mode in the DQB, called Terra Incognita, which has no story outside of the introduction, has a focused DQ feel to it, albeit with no monsters (that you fight, anyway).  Granted, I didn't really play more than a few minutes of the mode, but from what I read in research, Terra Incognita seems like a really fun mode, and since you unlock items and resources by getting better ratings and meeting certain goals within the main game, it suggests it can be larger and more involved, just without the story.  A DQ version of Animal Crossing or maybe Fallout Shelter?  I don't know, though I am getting more interested.

But even in the throes (there is that word again) of my gaming bliss, there was one annoying bit that drove me bonkers:  The camera.  Yep.  In short, it hates you, like, a lot.  Let me put i this way:  In the beginning of the game, when you are first playing, you may wonder why the game doesn't require you to build rooms with ceilings.  Perhaps like me, you decided to play along and not make ceilings in your rooms and towns, until one day you are pretty much forced to venture inside of a large building or more than likely a cave (which does happen, despite the devs going through a lot of trouble to make sure resources can be found on the surface.  And one that day, when you venture inside of a closed structure, you will want to die.  Well, not really, but it will be frustrating as you try to angle the camera in a way were you can see what you are trying to place/mine/kill.  Pushing the camera into the ground (best way I have to describe the action) is the only way to fix this, but when you move the camera naturally zooms out again, obstructing your view.  It's a annoying little dance, only made better by the massive amount of enjoyment (in my case) that I got from the game.  Like Super Mario 64, the camera stinks, but it is something you will learn to accept (though likely not to enjoy).

To sum things up, I loved this game from beginning to end, to the point where I am starting to question whether or not I will continue to be a Vita owner (due to the sequel only being released on Switch and PS4).  I don't think trying to sell the experience based on Minecraft is a good thing, even though the game wears its influence on its sleeve.  I think it you really like action RPGs with a bend towards town building (within limits and with guidance), this could be for you.  If, like me you are a DQ nut and just love the aesthetic, then you will like this game (if you haven't already played it).

Comparison between PS4, Vita, and Switch *video by ElAnalistaDeBits*

Now wanting it and getting it are two different questions, but in this case you should be able to play the demo at least (unless you are Switch, that is), which is important considering the price.  The PS3 port was only released in Japan only, so that makes that part easy.  The Vita version was released in most territories as digital only, though if you dig you can find the Asian English-language version floating around, which can command up to $100 USD (when you can find it on auction sites).  The PS4 and Switch ports are the easiest to get ahold of, and given the price for physical (as low as $20 and as high as $38 USD) you shouldn't need to settle for digital prices if you want to play this excellent game.  If you are all about graphics the Switch has a slight edge over the PS4 (the Vita looks... well, like you would expect), in my opinion, but only with draw distance.  All in all, this is a great game at a great price (unless you have a Vita).

Thanks for reading!

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I got this game for my son hoping it would give him a short break from Minecraft and Terraria with something I could enjoy speaking to him about. It worked for a bit and he really enjoyed it. Eventually he convinced me to play it with him and like you I fell in love with it.

I never thought there would be a crafting/building game to really hit the sweet spot for me, but this did it. The humor, the story progression, the variety in builds and environments, that cute yet deep Dragon Quest design....this game has a lot going for it. I have no interest in the free play mode, but I did thuroughly enjoy my time with the story and have contemplated picking it up again on the Switch to start over and am anticipating the sequel.
@Crabmaster2000: I played Terra Incognito a little more since writing this, but it just couldn't hold my interest.  Without the enemies, story, and NPCs I don't feel any compulsion to play anymore, though I am really looking forward to the sequel (glad it's a ways off as I don't have a system to play it on yet).

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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