Fight The Dragon
I’ll say it now and get it out of the way…the dragon is a jerkface. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Regardless, I find myself coming back for more punishment…a testiment to this game’s addictive qualities. “Fight The Dragon” has been on Steam’s Early Access for a while and will be officially launching today (as of 12/4/14). As best as I can describe it, “Fight The Dragon” is a hack and slash action-RPG, but with both premade and user-generated levels. Your ultimate goal will be to slay the dragon, but it’ll be a while before you become strong enough to do so. Before I go any further, I’d like to thank Seon Rozenblum from 3 Sprockets (the same folks who developed the recent “Cubemen 2“) for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu is a bit more interactive than most. Rather than simply choose an option with the help of a cursor, you’ll move your user-created character around a small base of sorts (similar to “LEGO Star Wars”). Here, you’ll be able to create additional characters (you create one from the get go), share your session and join others online, adjust game options, customize your current character, and more. The options menu is fairly basic, but covers all of the usual things you’d expect to see (fullscreen, audio, etc.). This menu also gives you access to the dragon arena almost right from the beginning…though entering its world right away is suicide. Trust me, I know.
The game is broken up into adventures in which your character will embark. These adventures last ten minutes or more, depending on the map in question. Within these adventures, you’ll be able to hack and slash your way through hordes of enemies, acquire loot, and level up your character. Adventures can be both premade and user-generated, sort of like how “The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot” is designed. The game comes with its own map creator tool (In-Game Adventure Construction Kit) allowing the user to create and share their very own levels. Further, the user can fly solo if they so choose, play with a friend via split screen, or take the fight online with up to three others.
The in-game inventory system felt a bit…awkward. Rather than applying some type of standard inventory window (as seen in the “Diablo” and “Torchlight” series), everything is organized by loot type. If you picked up a new sword, for example, you’ll have to go into your character management screen and drill into your character’s weapon slot to see its stats. It does make equipping new items convenient, but it makes it hard to see what loot you have on your person as a whole. I honestly would have preferred the standard character silhouette with the inventory screen directly below it. It may have been done before, but it works.
There’s also no in-game shop, at least none that I’ve seen. I regularly have to stop and drop my loot in order to pick up more, as if my character just magically and comically conjured a pile of junk on the dungeon floor. While there’s plenty of loot, I would have appreciated the ability to do something useful with the loot I didn’t want…like sell it off for money and/or dragon tickets. You can, however, “sacrifice” your loot and money on a loot shrine of sorts in the hopes of earning epic loot or dragon tickets. Again, I would have preferred something a bit more practical and interactive. A shop whose inventory leveled up with you, for example, would have been ideal.
Combat is a mixed bag. I appreciated all of the options I had available to me, in fact I favored the XBox 360 controller for that very reason. You have a basic and strong attack, the ability to roll/dodge, use spells, block…the effectiveness of which is dependent on your stats and loot. Like a typical RPG, you can assign talent points into four main attributes (strength, defense, etc.) which in turn affects what loot you can equip. The interface is good about letting you know your current status. What I didn’t like was combat itself…it just seemed, off. When striking an enemy, there is no sound or subtle cue to let me know that I’ve hit them (aside from their HP bar going down). The game could have used a bit more flair in this department, I feel.
While combat and going through the motions may seem repetitive, the game stays fresh with its procedurally generated monsters and levels and user-created content. There’s also the fact that you have a reason to keep going…to slay that jerkface of a dragon (I’m being polite). As you complete adventures, you earn dragon tickets. This grants you access to the dragon arena, accessible right inside your home town. You get three attempts/lives in which to defeat it, and it’s not easy. In fact, it has a huge (and I mean HUGE) HP counter. The upside is that its health does not regenerate after you’re done, leaving you to whack away at this dragon slowly but steadily. Eventually it’ll go down, but it won’t be doing so within your first few hours of playing.
It may seem like I’m coming down hard on this game, but I’m really not. It honestly has a lot to offer, especially for its fifteen dollar price tag. It has the potential to be a smash-hit, assuming the developers can keep up with the bugs and introduce new content on a regular basis. I’m enjoying the ease of which I can plop into an adventure for ten/fifteen minutes, level up a bit, and quit the game to go help the kids with homework. The immense challenge of defeating the dragon, coupled with the way its health persists over time, is honestly what makes me come back for more. It could admittedly use more work by way of in-game shops and the feel of combat, but it was a pleasure to play test and review. You’ll easily get your fifteen dollars back, what with the time you’ll spend creating your own maps and leveling up your characters.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Editor’s Note: It’s important to note that my review was written on release day, though I played it extensively during the Early Access stage. This was necessary to get the review out timely. As such, I wasn’t able to test online functionality. Time permitting, I’ll update this review and report on said features.
You can learn more about and purchase “Fight The Dragon” by visiting the following websites: