In last week’s Nintendo Direct mini there was just one little screenshot about what seemed very important news to me. There is a demo in the Switch eShop for my game of the Year 2016: Dragon Quest Builders! A game that was much underrated in my opinion when it first was released for the PS4 and the Vita. I played it on Vita, put hours and hours into saving Alefgard, and even now, I haven’t finished it entirely.
You know how I’m always talking about how the best games played are games where the fever catches you? Well, this game surely had me infected. Don’t be fooled by the way it’s promoted, as a glorified Minecraft: sure, part of the game is building structures, but where in Minecraft I often wondered what to do next, in DQB that was clear from the beginning.
Tasks are set in a fast pace, building your settlement, beautifying it and attracting people who have been wandering through the world ever since evil struck it. Various chapters each brought something new, forcing you to start over again with next to nothing, just your knowledge about what you would need. After the long storyline in chapters there’s also a very cool creative stage, where you can build to your hearts content.
The RPG part isn’t highlighted enough in the game’s promotion, and it is very, very challenging. To me at least. No turn-based fighting but thinking on your feet. You make your weapons and armour from scratch in every chapter, weapons that deteriorate like in Breath of the Wild. You also get the means to make sure your base is fortified in the right way. And still, your worst enemies have the power to topple your walls and put you in a bit of a predicament. You don’t level up like is usual in RPG, but you have to earn seeds of wisdom to level up.
The third part that makes this game one of the best is exploring. Every time you manage to best a sub-boss you get the materials to make a teleportal, bringing you to a new island with new enemies, new materials and new kinds of landscape. Materials that are much needed to progress the story and materials that are just fun to use in new items. Really, I’m getting infected with the DQB virus all over again just writing about it!
Just for fun, I compared the visuals of the Vita version and the Switch version. I think this game will be played best on handheld mode, the screen is certainly bigger. In fact, after I hadn’t held the Vita ever since I stopped playing Atelier Firis in May 2017. I was surprised at how small it was and how sleek it feels in my hands. The Switch is definitely more clunky as a handheld, but as I need reading glasses to play, I welcome the bigger screen. I don’t see much of a difference between the two at first glance.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, the demo is available in the Switch eShop now, and the full game will be released on February 9 in America and Europe. Don’t write it off just because you didn’t like Minecraft before. At least try the demo, and see what you think of the game play. You know, I’m even contemplating buying it again!
I’m curious to hear your thoughts!