Dragon Quest Builders Switch Review
Late in 2016, Square Enix released the spin-off title Dragon Quest Builders to the West. While the easiest way to describe the title is 'Dragon Quest mixed with Minecraft', it's a bit more than that, with Builders having a more in-depth story but also a few more limitations on the building aspects of the game. We reviewed the PlayStation 4 version when it first launched, and Kyle enjoyed his time with the game. Now, Dragon Quest Builders has made it to the Switch. While this might be a straight port of previous versions of Builders, the flexibility that the Switch provides makes this the definitive way to play.
To reiterate, the Switch version of Dragon Quest Builders is a port of the original game, and many of the original review's praises and criticisms are still valid here. There are a couple additions to this version, with an aborable sabrecub you can ride and interesting pixel block you can use to recreate that old school Dragon Quest feel, but these are ultimately small things in relation to the entire game. The narrative is a great throwback to the original Dragon Quest as a 'what-if' storyline, that has the Builder trying to rebuild civilization after the Dragonlord destroyed Alefgard. Your ability to create is limited based on the area you're in, which can be a frustration for some or a boon for others. You can still make rooms too big to count towards your base level, and if you're not careful, bosses can ruin all of your hard work.
Essentially, if you played another version of Dragon Quest Builders already, the Switch version is going to be a hard sell, especially as the game isn't short. As much as I enjoyed going through the game the first time, the second playthrough felt a bit of a grind at times, grabbing quests and completing them quickly to move forward in the game. Granted, rushing through isn't the best way to play a title like this—it's best to experiment and build your own unique and nice looking town.
But all and all, Dragon Quest Builders is a very strong spin-off of the series, and it's even strong enough that those that aren't fans of the series can enjoy it. So if you haven't grabbed it before, this version gives you another chance. But how does it run on the Switch?
First, it's important to note that the Switch version of Dragon Quest Builders appears to be a port of the PlayStation 4 version of the game, as opposed to the Vita version. Essentially the Vita version of Dragon Quest Builders had a downgraded resolution and draw distance, due to the less powerful console. The Switch version runs identical to the PlayStation 4 version, with a better draw distance and only occasional stuttering.
This is true when the Switch is in TV mode as well as Handheld mode. Playing Dragon Quest Builders in Handheld mode was great, especially as someone who exclusively played the game on consoles before. Builders lends itself well to portable play, but it's also great to be able to see your creations on the big screen. The Switch version offers the best of both worlds, and moving from the TV to Handheld mode and back is seamless.
The Switch version of Dragon Quest Builders feels like the definitive version of the game. It blends the better graphics and performance of the PlayStation 4 version of the title with the portability of the Vita version, offering players the ability to play how they want, when they want. Most games on Switch I prefer mostly playing in Handheld instead of TV mode, but for Builders I enjoyed playing in both modes. Dragon Quest Builders is a great spin-off to the iconic series… if you haven't given this game a chance, the Switch is the best way to do so.