Spotlight : Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is as the name suggests the second game in the series developed by Omega Force and Square Enix. It follows on from the success of the original Dragon Quest Builders that blended RPG elements from the Dragon Quest JRPG games with a Minecraft-esque block builder to create a hidden gem of a game. The second game follows on from this success taking on-board a lot of the criticisms of the original and improving on some of the fundamental game mechanics that made the first game so infuriating at times. It is a completely stand alone game from the first one.

The game follows you as an apprentice builder attempting to stop the evil menace that is known as the Children of Hargon, who have outlawed construction and are masters of destruction. With the help of your trusty companion Malroth you must help rebuild the Isle of Awakening and the local villagers. The story mode has a charming story that has you develop your skills as an apprentice builder exploring the world and various islands, landscapes and caves. What the second game has done so well is that as the game progresses and as you expand on the home world of the Isle of Awakening you do not lose your village that you may have painstakingly created and poured 10s of hours (probably more like 100s if you’re anything like I am and have OCD where everything has to line up over) into unlike in the first game where it was split into 4 chapters.

The joy in the first game of helping the NPCs rebuild heir farms/villages/towns has still been retained in this as you venture away form the Isle of Awakening onto other islands. The changes from the first game don’t just end there. The RPG element has been made more robust and rewarding this time you level up by gaining hearts from villagers as you complete tasks and challenges. Smaller improvements like a fast travel system, ability to create more than one thing at a time, can move blocks rather than destroy them and start again and an unlimited bag capacity make the general gameplay much less frustrating. The game is clearly aimed at a younger audience and has nice nods to Dragon Quest lore which will keep those die hard fans of the series happy (who actually are these people as I have never come across them). The other added feature in this game that was sorely missing in the first is a multiplayer mode where you can team up and make giant structures…..cough…. and gives the game a sense of freedom similar to Minecraft.

The game has a certain charm about it particularly when you meet some of the other in-game characters like Britney who is a soldier who only speaks in Memes, (she screams YOLO when charging into fights) but that charm starts to wear thin when the controls are clunky and the same button controls attack/activate/speak so as you go to do something and an NPC walks past you hear the same bit of dialogue for the 100th time that day it gets tiresome. The combat mechanics are also a little turgid with no block/dodge mechanic which is fine when you are just smashing the smaller enemies but becomes irritating when fighting bosses or the more difficult enemies in the game. Even with these frustrations the game still looks like it has enough charm and RPG elements that will still make the game fun and enjoyable. The world looks like a great place to explore and captivating like those in most of the Dragon Quest RPGs of the past. This game is definitely worth a look if you are a fan of games like Minecraft and block building games. It has more structure and story than Minecraft, which for those who lack the ability to look at a blank canvas and see a playground it eases you into the world of block building. I personally hate block building games, just give me a box full of Lego and that’s all the block building I need! However check it out for yourselves here

The game releases today for the PS4 and Switch

Spotlight: Sea of Solitude

Sea of Solitude is the brain child of Cornelia Geppart and her team at Jo-Mei Games. It is published by EA under its new department at EA Originals. It is the second release by EA Originals following the success of Fe last year. It is released today.

The game is a beautiful and imaginative story telling puzzle platformer that tackles the difficult topic of mental health, namely loneliness, depression and anxiety. While Sea of Solitude is not the first game to do so, it follows the path that games like Hellblade : Senua’s Sacrifice, Limbo, Celeste and Night in the Woods have forged before it. The games main protagonist is a young woman called Kay, who has found herself in a world where she has turned into a black feathered creature with piercing red eyes. It seems to be a symbol for how Kay looks at herself and I really hope that as you progress through the world her appearance changes as her perception of herself changes. The world Kay inhabits now is a flooded city that hides the true beauty of world around her but is unable to see is consumed by her own inner demons and is a really strong suggestion to how Kay feels like she is drowning under the weight of everything. The use of strong visual connection to emotions is something the game developers have used really successfully to build the world that you navigate.

The game is stunningly created on the Unity engine and the art style is as captivating as it is haunting. The constant evolving environment mirrors the serenity and turbulence of Kay’s personal struggles. The use of the environment only strengthens the games ability to immerse the gamer in and pulls you along the journey with Kay. The world you enter gives you the uneasy sense of what lies beneath the surface and how everything shouldn’t always be taken at face value as you never know the struggles someone is dealing with. You work your way through the world addressing corruptions, possible wrongs or negative pressures in Kay’s life, meeting people that through their own loneliness or anxiety have turned into fantastical creatures and monsters. The game makes you want to challenge the monsters or work with the other creatures to learn more about Kay’s own challenges. Even if the monsters seem daunting or scary, the character design of some of the ‘bosses’ are amazing in scale and in relation to how they affect the environment, the game rewards your courage by allowing more access to the world and learn more about the main protagonist Kay.

This is a game I cannot wait to play fully, explore and experience the beautiful world that Jo-Mei Games have created. I love story driven games that are considered slow burners like Limbo, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Everybody’s gone to the Rapture. They burn themselves into your psyche because they draw you into their hauntingly beautiful world’s with really strong story narratives. I believe Sea of Solitude will be the same, or at least I really hope it does and I think everybody should take some time and really enjoy this game. Check out the game here

Other games to check out this week:

They are Billions (Xbox- 5/7/19 & PS4 – 9/7/19) –
SolSeraph (PS4/Xbox/PC – 10/7/19) –
Blazing Chrome (PS4/Xbox/PC – 11/7/19) –
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets (Switch/PC – 11/7/19) –