Dragon Blaze
Hands-On Preview
Andrew Barker Andrew Barker

Android, iOS



Action RPG


US 05/11/2015

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Battles appear exciting at first glance, but require very little player input.
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Moving between levels amounts to picking them from a chart.
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As with most free-to-play titles, there are plenty of bonuses to buy with real money.
"A free-to-play title, Dragon Blaze is fully playable without spending a cent, though it's questionable how much you'll enjoy it either way."

The latest publication from mobile giant Gamevil, Dragon Blaze puts players in the role of a novice adventurer destined to save the world. Released in Korea some time ago, the game gained a substantial following and will be released in English worldwide next month. A free-to-play title, Dragon Blaze is fully playable without spending a cent, though it's questionable how much you'll enjoy it either way.

Gameplay primarily centres on Adventure Mode, wherein you progress through a series of levels to defeat enemies and bosses. Between certain missions, you see dialogue or cutscenes where you learn more about the story. A big draw of Dragon Blaze is its multiplayer features: co-operative missions and larger raids, but these were unavailable in the preview build and I am unable to report on them at this time.

Aside from the main character, you can outfit your party with allies who can be obtained by clearing missions or through summoning. Summoning can be done with friend points gained through gameplay, but the best units are far more likely to be obtained through premium summoning which costs rubies. Small numbers of rubies can be obtained by beating missions and quests, but if you want to play around with the best characters the game has to offer, then you'll inevitably have to fork out a substantial amount of dough — not surprising in a free-to-play title. Rubies are handed out occasionally in-game, but not reliably enough.

Party characters level up as you defeat enemies, but you can also enhance them by sacrificing units you don't need. Success in enhancement is based on chance, so it's possible to destroy dozens of units and reap very little benefit. You can also equip each character with weapons and armour, most of which can be obtained in game, though the best comes through premium summoning. There's very little depth to characters aside from simply making them stronger. Only the main character has a skill tree, though it's fairly simple and only includes a handful of varied attacks and buffs.

Most disappointingly, battles are almost completely hands-off. You only have control over the main character, as the rest of your party fights automatically. Unfortunately, even this control is limited to selecting a target and, if you wish, using a skill; all regular attacks are handled automatically by the game. Most of my time with Dragon Blaze was spent simply watching battles unfold with an occasional button press. The limited options and strategy meant it just wasn't fun.

Visually, the game is quite stylish, which does relieve some of the boredom in battles. Dragon Blaze certainly takes some inspiration from Vanillaware's Dragon's Crown in its art style, and there's a good variety of enemies to fight. The fast-paced nature of combat creates some impressive effects too, though so many numbers flying around the screen means it's difficult to determine which attacks are most effective.

Dragon Blaze delivers a solid quantity of levels, along with plenty of difficult achievements to complete for various rewards. If Dragon Blaze turns out to be a game you enjoy, then there's plenty to do to keep you playing. At this pre-release stage, however, it's difficult to be excited. The automatic nature of battles sucks the fun from them and character customisation is extremely limited and simple. While the addition of multiplayer in the full release will likely provide new challenges, it's hard to look forward to Dragon Blaze at this point.

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