Popping up like an autumn squirrel out of the leaves comes the demo for Dragon Quest Builders, now out on EU PSN, UPDATE: with the US version now also live. Square Enix's monster seller in Japan should easily generate a lot of love in the west, but how does it play?
The demo offers an hour or so play, with the first few quests showing DQB as being easy-to-love, a Minecraft-lite with a gentle story to follow and a suitably sedate pace of events and action. You can mildly customise and name your character, and choose to play as a boy or girl, before setting them off into a world lost to time, with people stumbling around like passive zombies.
They, Pippa and Rollo are the first people you meet, need a hero, a leader, and above all a builder, and possibly a plumber. Enter you with your noddy hat! You can soon start turning mud into walls, sticks into doors and beds, before crafting basic essentials like weapons and tools. You know the drill (if only you had one), but this time you need to help the people out rather than going and crafting your own luxury pad, recreating the pyramids or building a fleet of steel tanks.
This focuses the game neatly and gives a greater sense of purpose, which some, I guess younger gamers will love, while Minecraft die-hards will probably turn their diamond-armoured nose up at.
In design, DQB is totally Minecraft, from the crafting benches to chests, and the way you gather and create. However, the mission structure and (in the demo, anyway) tight limits on resource types make it a lot more focused, but it retains the relaxed atmosphere of Creative mode and while there's sure to be big battles along the way, there's none of this in the early going.
Once the demo ends, you can still carry on exploring the four corners of your island, which has some surprises, and go fine tuning your little village. The full game is out in a couple of weeks, digital only on the Vita in Europe.