Dragon Quest Builders PC Review – A Casual and Chill Dragon Quest Experience

Dragon Quest Builders is now available on Steam. In 2024. Now, that’s…certainly a string of sentences I wasn’t expecting to say today. I mean, sure, Square Enix has shadow-dropped Dragon Quest Treasures on Steam last year, but the first Dragon Quest Builders? Especially considering we’ve had the sequel available for a while now? Now, that was unexpected. Still, I’ve never played the original Dragon Quest Builders spin-off games, so I was definitely curious about how the first games hold up on PC, so let’s get our builder caps on.

Introduction: The Story of Dragon Quest Builders

First things first, just what is the story of Dragon Quest Builders all about? To put it simply, you are the legendary Builder with the power of creation, and you’re capable of crafting new things by just obtaining new items. Your task is to restore the world of Alefgard after a certain hero accepts the proposal of the Dragonking and causes the world to plunge into darkness, thus making its population lose their creativity and force them to fend for themselves.

After you’ve arrived at your base, the goddess will task you with finding new villagers to help with the rebuilding. Rescue them, and they’ll immediately have a series of requests for you, though they can be categorized into just “build this item or room for me” or “I think I saw someone in this location; maybe go rescue them?”. There is no time limit to do any of them, and honestly, the only worthwhile reward is maybe progressing the story because…they’re really lackluster.

The Story Isn’t What You Should Buy Dragon Quest Builders

Now, the story itself is divided into several chapters, which, to me, all felt somewhat repetitive at first, but it does have that classic Dragon Quest charm to it. Who did this? Why did this happen? These may sound like cliché questions, but Dragon Quest Builders’s story, while definitely not one of the main points that made me like it, was definitely unexpected, given other similar titles of this genre.

Still, perhaps one of the biggest annoyances I had is that once you go to the next chapter, the game essentially “resets” your character, taking away all of your recipes and forcing you to essentially start over from the beginning. These chapters are also not interconnected, but that brings me to my point: this game isn’t something you should buy for its story alone.

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I’d argue that the main appeal of Dragon Quest Builders is, quite obviously, to build. And after completing the first chapter, I was introduced to Free Mode. If you’ve ever heard of Creative Mode in Minecraft, it’s kind of similar to that, in the sense that you’ve generated a random world layout and are free to roam around and build to your heart’s content, with all the recipes you’ve learned from Story Mode and their locations present. Still, it does feel a bit lonely because there’s no multiplayer support at all, not even split-screen co-op, and these voxel-type games are infinitely more fun with friends, I’d argue.

Dragon Quest Builders Isn’t Really Geared for Hardcore Players

The day and night cycle implies that the enemies get more “dangerous at night,” but I honestly did not have any difficulty defeating them. In fact, the combat system is not complicated at all to grasp, and one big plus from it is that weapons, unlike other games, don’t have a durability system to bog you down. For the more hardcore players, this might come as a negative, seeing as Dragon Quest Builders has no difficulty toggle of any sort.

There’s also no visible penalty for staying awake during a full “24-hour” cycle, with the only thing that might stop you is your character’s hunger, and even then, just grab a couple of mushrooms, place down a cooking flame, and presto, you got yourself a dish that will likely last you a good while. Even the inventory becomes a non-issue after you’ve built your first colossal chest, which, with the tap of a button, you have access to quite an absurd amount of inventory space right at your fingertips. Making additional chests to store your items is also incredibly easy.

PC Version Optimizations & Changes

The controls in the PC version, however, do leave quite a bit to be desired. By default, the game has a pretty strange button layout that was present in the original release. This is still very confusing today. Thankfully, you can customize the control scheme in the options menu, but it does take some time to get each button assigned. One of the main selling points is that the Steam version already comes preloaded with all of the console versions’ DLC. Now, naturally, a huge majority of them are merely cosmetic and don’t really add that much to the experience, though it is reassuring that you won’t have to buy any of them separately. Furthermore, even with all the DLC, the game uses less than a gigabyte of storage.

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Conclusion: The Belated Definitive Way to Play

Dragon Quest Builders’s Steam version is certainly the definitive way to play the game, even if it’s a tad late to its own party. Despite its limitations, it’s easy to just lose hours of your time just building your base and fostering a community with the townspeople, not to mention just gathering and building whatever your heart desires in Free Mode. Still, the odd controller mapping out of the box or perhaps the many quality-of-life things that the sequel does make me wary of whether to recommend it as a purchase at full price.

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A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Dragon Quest Builders PC Review

Dragon Quest Builders arrives on Steam, presenting a unique building adventure set in Alefgard, where players tackle the role of the Builder to rejuvenate a darkened world. The game's charm lies in its construction mechanics and Free Mode, offering endless creativity despite the absence of multiplayer support. The PC version enhances the experience with included DLCs and customizable controls, yet its late release and comparison to its sequel may influence its recommendation at full price.

The Good

  • Classic Dragon Quest Charm: The game carries the franchise's nostalgic charm into a new genre, blending the traditional RPG elements with building mechanics in a way that appeals to fans and newcomers alike.
  • Engaging Building Mechanics: The core appeal of "Dragon Quest Builders" lies in its building mechanics, offering creative freedom in both Story Mode and Free Mode, where players can construct and customize to their heart's content.
  • Generous Inventory Management: With the introduction of the colossal chest and the ease of creating additional storage, inventory management is simplified, making resource handling and organization less cumbersome.
  • Inclusive DLC Content: The PC version comes preloaded with all console version DLCs, enhancing the game with additional cosmetic options without the need for separate purchases. The game's small storage footprint is also a plus.

The Bad

  • Repetitive and Simplistic Story Chapters: The narrative resets with each new chapter, stripping players of their progress and recipes, which can feel repetitive and diminish the sense of continuity and progression.
  • Awkward Default Control Scheme: The PC version suffers from a confusing default button layout that may require significant customization for comfortable gameplay, presenting an initial barrier to entry.