Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Dodging Dragons – Stress-free Flying Game

icon175x175Today I’ll be taking a look at Dodging Dragons, a 2D arcade flyer game, much like the once (in)famous Flappy Bird.

Available on iTunesDodging Dragons is a game created by the After Insanity game studio, and it’s built exclusively for the Apple iOS platform. It puts you in shoes (or should I say wings) of a baby dragon, endlessly flying its way through air, dodging obstacles and collecting coins and gemstones.

First thing you’ll notice about running Dodging Dragons is that it looks great. For an indie studio, I have to say I was quite impressed with the graphics. Everything from the cloudy background, over the grass-covered floating stones, to our main character, everything was done with serious quality. What I particularly enjoyed was the way the developers created the main character. The dragon has the 90’s-cartoon style, reminding me of the TV shows I used to watch as a kid. It really throws you back.

The music

Lately I have been paying a lot of attention to in-game music and I noticed that the developers have no clue what they’re doing. Either that, or they don’t care about background audio, which could be even worse. The music background plays a huge role in creating the overall atmosphere of the game. Miss that, and your game becomes something else entirely.

In this case, the music is not bad as much as it’s misplaced. It sounds like it’s 8-bit music which would fit perfectly in a game like Hotline Miami. In this case, where you have high quality graphics, high quality audio should also be in place.

The gameplay

dodging1Looking at how the game plays, I see no wrongdoings. The controls are simple, to an extent borrowing from Flappy Bird – the dragon will fly as long as you tap the screen. Stop tapping, and he’ll fall under. However, unlike the flying game we all lost our nerves over, Dodging Dragons takes a somewhat milder approach. First of all, hitting an obstacle does not necessarily mean instant death. You’re free to “land” on it and still continue playing.

Even if you do hit an obstacle, your character will get dizzy and fall over, but there are times when that doesn’t mean game over. The sudden death approach of Flappy Bird has its charm and most certainly a large audience, but this approach is far from wrong. I can say it takes the stress out of the game.

I also like the fact that the developers didn’t simply take already seen mechanics – they’ve added their own flavour to it. So, besides tapping to flap the wings, you can also swipe in different directions to get various boosts. Swapping forward gives you a speed buff, while swiping backwards lets your character glide through air. The latter has proven extremely useful when collecting coins and rubies in a straight line.

Monetising and in-game spending

dodging2Coins and rubies can be spent in what I can only call a digital WalMart. The game’s shop is huge, offering lots and lots of power-ups and different options. What I also noticed is that almost all of those power-ups can be purchased with in-game currency and relies very little on real money.

However, I haven’t seen any in-game ads. This is good for the average player, but bad for the developer, as I have doubts over how much money a game with only one monetisation option can earn. Considering how popular rewarded ads are nowadays, it could prove useful to put in a few of those in exchange for an extra life or a couple of speed boosts.

The verdict

As a player, I have no issues with giving this game a straight 5/5. It uses proven mechanics and adds a new twist to it, making it easy to learn but hard to master. It has great graphics which are a joy to watch, and a solid background music which, if you’re not obsessed like the author, won’t get in the way. The game’s large in-game shop offers various boosts and power-ups to help you break those records and keep playing.

However, as a reviewer, I feel the game could have offered a bit more, especially in terms of monetising. Rewarded video ads, as well as an option to buy more features with real money could have earned the developers a lot of money and fueled the production of more games. Still, it’s a solid game which was a joy to play through.

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