- Developer: Omega Force
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Genre: JRPG
- Release Date: 12/7/19
- Platforms: PS4, Switch
- Reviewed on: PS4
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
The story starts with you choosing whether to be male or female so you can begin the adventure behind bars on a boat full of monsters! You are behind bars because your character is a builder, and ever since the monsters took over, building has become illegal. The game opens with the monster ship you’re on gradually sinking, and despite your best efforts to shore up the sinking boat, you fail and the ship sinks. You then wash up on a deserted island with two other people; Lulu and Malroth. The island – something of a wasteland – is given to you by a friendly monster, leaving you to restore it by going to other islands and bringing back people and materials to build the island up.
Despite having the name “Dragon Quest Heroes 2”, this game isn’t a sequel, nor does it feature characters from prior Dragon Quest games, but it does have some of the same monster types. This game, as Square Enix have said, has been conceived as a stand-alone experience to welcome new fans along with existing ones.
First impressions of the world you set out on are Minecraft meets Anime. The land you walk around in is of blocks, blocks and more blocks, but the characters and items you use are of a polished anime design. The anime characters you come across, however, are rather simple versions to look at there being very little detail to them. However, this style is, although simple is pleasant to look at. Add to this, the character variations of friends and foe, add a lot of visual interest.
Each character design is very Chibi and cute (short and cute), however, the blocks and materials are textured just enough to look cartoony and vibrant. It is very difficult to see any single pixels while playing, and the game visuals overall are very smooth. Animations link together excellently, especially the ‘running to sprinting’ animation.
The background sky looks very pretty, with great looking clouds that actually look very realistic. Even though the land is full of blocks, they have made the most of it with lots of variety. There are grasslands, mountains, lakes, swamps, waterfalls, sandy planes, beaches, rocks, and lots more to discover. Like minecraft, almost every block you see can be destroyed to farm for items to create something.
The audio is generally average but still cute. Again like Minecraft, the music isn’t the type of thing you hum along to while you play, however it pleasantly fills the void of when you are not doing much in the game. The sound effects are sufficiently basic, and do a perfectly good of enabling you to know what any given sound it is when you hear it. For example a chiseling sound when mining gems is different to plopping into a water filled swamp. Some effects are really convincing though, in particular, rain hitting a wooden roof, and walking past a tumbling waterfall are stand out moments.
Much like the rest of the game’s sound effects, those heard during battle are fairly average, but again perfectly acceptable. You do get the ching of metal when you hit metallic objects and blocks, and the monsters make good battles cries, which was always fun to listen to.
Gameplay is what makes this game really shine and more than makes up for the average audio and simple graphics. There is lots to do: combat, building, quests and more and it’s all so damn addictive! The building element is very interesting and enjoyable. You can gather materials by farming blocks, following which you can then make a ‘room’, which requires a two block high wall space with no gaps in the walls, and a door. Characters use rooms differently depending on what you put in them. For example, putting at least three bonfires and a chest in a room makes a kitchen. People will cook any cookable materials that you put in the chest, and will then either put it in a bowl or back in that chest. Things like this also work outside, like putting chairs around a table with bowls on it.
The combat is simple, but it is still very enjoyable. There is only one button! No dodge, no block, just one single input. By holding that same input you can also induce a more powerful spin attack. That is all you really need to use for combat, not including your attempt at dodging by frantically sprinting to the side! One thing that is fun about combat, however, is the first person view, which helps in combat and many other things, all by pressing a single button. It’s great to see the world up close and personal from this view.
Although there are only basic attacks for combat, boss fights do change things up a little. For example, putting banana peels in the way of a boss will cause them to slip up, and give you an opportunity to attack.
This game also gives you ambitious main quests like ‘plant 250 crops’ or ‘mine 1000 chunks of copper’, but the help this game gives you for these quests is more than enough, making them enjoyable challenges. The people reward you for these quests with ‘gratitude points’ which you can use to either upgrade your base, or later in the game, buy new recipes for materials.
Another objective of the game is to sail by boat to other islands to perform more tasks in order to bring back more people and different materials, beyond those that are found on your base island. There is pretty much an unlimited amount of options in terms of the materials you can make, all of which can be utilised for different uses. You can build anything from buildings, to crops to roller coasters!
The upgrades you acquire will also get you more people on the island than your currently have, which is helpful in that those people can help you with the assigned tasks, and give you more gratitude points. Once you’re finished on any given island, you can bring more people back to your own.
When you talk to villagers, they will sometimes also unlock more side quests for you. So the final aim of the game is to complete the story, but also build up your island to your idea of a paradise for your villagers to live in.
Finally, on top of all of this, the online section of the game allows you to continue your block building fun in co-op, where you and three of your friends can join forces and create any type of world you can put your imagination to! You begin your online adventure with a wealth of customizable options, and with lots of different colours available for the said items. Unfortunately, the online aspect only allows for free roam building, and does not permit you to play the campaign together. However, the game works perfectly well with friends, and there is much block building fun to be had creating structures together.
In conclusion, the parallels with Minecraft are many. Like Minecraft, the audio, graphics, and combat are very average, but that doesn’t make the game bad at all. Far from it. The beauty of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is that it’s a better, more colourful, more detailed and more interesting version of Minecraft. The game’s true appeal lies in its rewarding and fun gameplay, great art style, and intriguing islands on which to discover new items, people and monsters. It is this combination of top shelf content that, all said and done, makes the game utterly addictive and a go-to title for those of you hoping to play a game for hours on end and not get bored.
You have all the creativity of minecraft, as well as better graphics, better artwork, an interesting story, and many side quests. In short, it is a fantastic game all around.