There’s no denying that I was both a bit disappointed of how short the demo was and how excited I was to finally be able to dive into the full version. With the Demo basically being the overall tutorial clocking in at about an hour depending upon what you do, I now find myself sixty hours down the line and while I absolutely loved my adventure, it did have a few bumps here and there maring the near perfect score that it could have had because of plot writing that I could have seriously passed on because “my builder”, never would have gone along with what transpired. Neither would I. But more on that later down the line!
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is basically the tale of two games and as such, this is part one or two in order to do this beast justice. For those not looking for spoilers, Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the perfect sequel to that of the first as it doesn’t force you to constantly restart and basically stitch three stories together that would otherwise not really connect short of the boss of the game.
Instead, Dragon Quest Builders 2 has a flow from one island to the next and everything comes together both from the gameplay and the story’s perspectives. Sixty hours may sound like a lot to some but when you combine having a simulation / block builder with an actual RPG making the Dragon Quest name proud, it’s well worth the price tag and there’s more story to come in an epilogue that exists outside of the Season Pass for decorative content.
*** Spoilers ahoy ***
Upon where to start, it should be said that the actual beginning is a good place. Once the tutorial on the ship of the Cult of Hargon has been completed, a storm blows the ship apart and you find yourself thrown into the sea. Waking up on a shoreline, you meet Malroth, a super strong person that knows nothing but his own name. Any fans of the series will immediately recognize the name as he was the final boss of Dragon Quest 2. Malroth, and this Malroth, is the literal God of Destruction. Not knowing it yet, you search for survivors and find Lulu who sets you off on a list of tasks to at least make this new place livable for the three of you.
Just this right here was a huge step in a different direction for the series. In the first, you were by yourself the whole time getting told what to you and more or less how to do it from the various towns people that you’ve rescued or who have shown up on your doorstep. Now, while you still take “orders” or “suggestions” from the various people that you save or show up on your doorstep, you aren’t alone. You have Malorth who basically becomes your best friend and travelling companion.
Not only is this change of pace a great addition mechanically, but it’s a great addition overall as your rather silent character has someone to interact with. They have someone to voice what they are thinking while waving their hands all over the place. If your character doesn’t agree, they wave around angrily and it’s rather adorable since just about every character is in chibi format. Having this dynamic really helps while exploring the various lands as Malroth acts as an anchor for you and what you’re there for as Lulu stays behind to start working on the island while the two of you head out to risk your lives hunting for both materials and people to bring back in order to help you out.
Setting out with the Captain Brownbeard, you head out towards the first island on your list. Leaving everything materialistically behind, you set out with nothing more than the gear on your backs. This partially runs in parallel with the original as you land in a new location with nothing more than what you have equipped. Unlike the original, you have equipment that will help keep you alive while searching out that first town and food to keep you alive and keep others motivated and happy.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 can be divided into six actual locations and five real chapters each with people that want to help you out, stop you, or enslave and sap the will to live from you. The Children of Hargon suck and their indoctrination goes far and digs its roots deep into the people’s of this world. To essentially save the various peoples of the world, you’re going to have to rebuild the builder’s paradise. But first, you’re going to need the help of other people that exist in the world and to get their help, you’re going to have to show them that building isn’t bad, but fun and almost necessary to survive
Each chapter, a bit like the first, has its own theme but unlike the first it takes things into a much larger scale and plays out more like an adventure than a plainer more tasked based experience. Starting off in the first region, you’ll be learning how to far and re-vitalize the lands from the poison that has seeped into it. Once you’ve saved the lands and learned to farm you’ll be going over towards some dried up mines to find metal and revitalize the town by building bars and pubs. Before making it over to the third, the story takes a bit of a twist and that’s what separates this sequel from the first.
Between each of your adventures of building, fighting and making friends, you go back to your builder’s paradise to spruce things up a little bit. The Children of Hargon however are none too pleased about this and they’ll attack you a few times and in such force that you are forced to flee if only to run right into one of their ships and get captured anyways. This getting captured brings you to a new island where the cult breaks spirits by having the prisoners build and then destroy their work all for a single cabbage a day, which is so not enough on the hungry meter. The writing behind this episode, the sheer frustration at being able to do next to nothing for a while and simply rinse and repeat also reinforces that while you’re still not a “hero”, being a “hero” could get you killed and thus, you plot an escape from Skeletraz. Yes, that’s really what it’s called.
Basically being what Prison Break wasn’t, good, you break free and find your way back home with some new tricks up your sleeve like being able to tame monsters. Riding around on a Saber Kitty cub that can double jump and that is faster than a minecart track? Yes. Please. Finishing up a few small things, you head back out into the open seas to find warriors to help defend your builder’s paradise. Landing onto the war torn snowy islands, you help to rebuild a castle and both break a siege, and a friendship.
This is about where I started to have issues. You’re… what, forty? Fifty? Sixty hours down the line and all of a sudden, you see more of the cracks in Malroth as the voices in his head have amped up their disruptive thoughts and his being unable to build is really gnawing at him as all he can seem to do is destroy. It made sense, you’re travelling and your best friend can think of a burger and all of a sudden you have a world renown burger joint connected to the gym and the bar’s pool. But, but, what happens is both a well designed and written plot as well as a trick that I could have very much has passed up on.
Having walked onto a battlefield, this is the first of the locations where tempers are short, suspicions are high, and traitors lay in your midst. I’m not going to spoil THAT, but I was so wrong on who I thought betrayed me and in their scheme they get Malroth locked up and then the game literally REFUSES to let you go see him, talk to him, or freaking break down the walls that you apparently built giving them plot armor. This is what pissed me off and the break between my Minael and Malroth almost made me put down the game and walk away. It hurt to see, it hurt that I couldn’t do anything and unlike prison break that makes you feel helpless as you plot your way out, there’s no plotting here. Just hurt feelings as you finally finish up and head home to head your own separate ways.
All of these adventures, all of these people, and then THAT happens? Had it ended there I would seriously have been pissed off and given a flat score of 3/10. But it’s not the end. The third island is far from the end as the best is yet to come and after many manly tears as I moved forward, the real truth to it all is uncovered and wow was it a doozy. After the third island, things start to fall apart and in order to put an end to it, you head into a portal to try to put a stop to Hargon himself who’s currently succeeding at destroying the world.
Having no choice but to chase after Hargon and Maltroth who he took with him, you head into a portal leading to basically no man’s land where everything is dead, and there are no actual materials. By this point, some may start to think, alright, stop stretching things out and just end it already. Give me my final boss fight. The thing is though? This was probably one of the best written scenarios. Diving into this end of the world where Malroth’s power is out of whack and destroying things as a Lord of Destruction would, you find allies in the weirdest of places. The original Skeleton captain from the intro in his crashed ship, a Hunter Killer Bot, a giant Belial Demon, and so many more as you band together in this world waiting to be destroyed to create an ark to save everyone even if you’re a human and they are monsters.
This banding together meant so much more than the rest of the adventure to me because everyone that you convince to help you out, had already let go and resigned themselves to die. They were ready to go but in showing them that it doesn’t matter if you’re human or some from of other race alive or dead, you’ve all got the right to live and to live together. Building your ark which is a giant spaceship, you also build a buggy to help save people before turning it into a ship to head off to save Malroth from Hargon once everyone was safe and on the ark. It’s touching, and while it does add in some neat gameplay mechanics, it showed that this was more than just a building simulator, it was a real RPG and the writing behind it probably made me more emotional than the “second half” of Dragon Quest XI which is really the thirty plus hours of the post game.