I of the Dragon - PC - Preview
Every once in a while a game comes along that wasn’t on the radar. Perhaps it didn’t have the type of name that had mystery, adventure or intrigue written all over it. But it shows up, and you pop it in to have a look, and find yourself overlooking some of the shortcomings simply because the idea is so fresh, and the game is enjoyable.
Enter I of the Dragon.
This is a game developed by Primal Software and published by Strategy First for the PC. The title doesn’t say much and the music in the demo really did little to support the concept or mood of the game. Graphically the game is solid though, with stylized and interactive environments. And the plot is a retread of so many role-playing games that it almost ceases to have meaning.
So what makes this game unique?
You get to be a dragon. Yep, a flying, fire-breathing, swooping-down-to-snatch-prey-off-the-ground, flesh-eating dragon. Actually, there are three to choose from but only one was available in the demo.
Think of the game like this – it is aerial warfare, but instead of piloting the plane, you are the plane. If you don’t like the third-person view, pop up the dragon camera, and look at the world through the eyes of this beast. Gain altitude (to a point) or swoop down low. Charge up your deadly breath for a huge fireball, or fire burst after burst. Or better yet, level up, gain new skills and magical powers and have some real fun. Turn the area into a geyser of fire bursts, or freeze your opponents with icy breath.
The game takes place in Nimoan, a land that flourished under the bounty of peace, but one which prophecy had forewarned would be a target for evil in the days ahead. There was the birth of the two-headed calf, and then for seven days the setting sun was wrapped in a greenish hue. Strange monsters began to roam the countryside and then “It” came, and the world was on the brink of domination by darkness. But prophecies told of a potential savior as well – a dragon.
The game has 20 playable missions, more than 60 spells, 40 unique monsters, 12 unique areas, hundreds of landscape items. Your abilities will enable you to terra form the land, and the game has a realistic day and night cycle.
The controls are a combination of mouse and keyboard, but the fundamentals of play are quite simple to understand and control. There is a zoomable, rotatable camera that will allow you to take in a lot of the mapboards without having to constantly turn.
Players will have the opportunity to defend towns, or destroy them. You will have to dodge ground attacks, though the response controls will allow you.
You know there is a monster behind the stand of trees, simply because the radar shows it there. No problem! Just power up the breath and let it go. You will turn the trees into a fried kindling and start toasting the mob behind it. Hungry? Target a mob, hit the eat hotkey and swoop down to pluck it from the land. The prey’s little legs wiggle and squirm as your dragon takes a big bite, which also produces a mist of blood.
The musical score of this game is a letdown, to be sure. Rather than a baroque or even pounding war rhythm, the game underscores the action with a pabulum-flavored musical score that almost detracts from the game.
As you level, you can advance skills in certain areas, like flight speed, or power of your breath, and this will prepare you for the deadly areas ahead.
The flight animation of the dragon is very well done. Not all the animation is as good. The town representative on the flying carpet is quite weak, but the mobs and central avatar are down quite well.
I of the Dragon shows incredible promise at this stage in its development. While the story is on the weak side, the game makes up for it in allowing players to jump into the skin of a dragon. That, in itself, is worth the price of admission.