I of the Dragon Review
I of the Dragon is different from other action-RPG games in that instead of slaying dragons you actually become one. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to swoop through the air, shooting hot blasts of fire at your enemies? It certainly would, because you won’t find any of that in this game.
For a game that touts itself as an action/RPG, there’s surprisingly little of either in the game. The storyline is set in a world in which humans and dragons were once allied against an evil sorcerer. With the defeat of the sorcerer the humans put the dragons out to pasture, so to speak. However, as anything evil inevitably does, the sorcerer has returned to give it all another go. So once again the humans need the aid of the dragons and that’s where you come in. So is all of this related through cutscenes or elaborate animations? No, what you get instead is a old guy who flies up to you on a magic carpet, mumbles his lines while you read the subtext, and then flies off again. You’re not told who this guy is, why he’s giving you orders, or why his orders invariably are to kill all the goofy looking monsters in the area. You then go about your business within the confines of the level’s map and after you accomplish your goal you get to do pretty much the same thing on another map. Quests that make you feel a part of a greater story? Open lands and cities to explore? Interesting characters who provide you with the opportunity to perform side quests? Vast riches and treasures to be had? Let’s see; no, no, no, and no. So much for the “RP” in this RPG.
As far as RPG elements go, you can select your dragon from three different types which effectively gives you three classes to choose from. One dragon relies primarily on breath attacks, one is strong in magic, and the last has necromancer-like skills. There’s no room for customization in the looks and skills of your dragon of choice though, so you will have to play as one of the three provided. Once you start killing the aforementioned goofy-looking creatures, you’ll gain experience and level-up, which allows you to increase your stats such as flight speed and hitpoints. Once again, though, there is not that much room for crafting a custom dragon.
Once in the game you control your dragon from a third person perspective. Your dragon just sort of hovers in place until you click on a spot on in your view. Your dragon will then plod his way to the new location and stop and hover again. You can change your facing by moving the mouse, and altitude is controlled by tiny buttons on the screen or hotkeys. There’s no feeling of flight or aerial thrills here – you feel more like a traffic chopper than a powerful dragon. While these controls are adequate enough to get you from one spot to another, they prove to be woefully inadequate for the few occasions in which you play as a human running around on the ground as just trying to see where you are going is a nightmare.
Right-clicking on the monsters below will cause your dragon to let loose a breath attack that resembles a colored ball of light. In turn, the monsters will launch their own different colored balls at you. The closer that you are to your target the easier it is to hit it (and for it to hit you), but the success of your attacks is determined at random at the moment you click the mouse. Battles almost always involve hovering in place, clicking on a monster, and then waiting while your colored ball floats its way to your target. You can also attack the tower-like monster lairs which serve as Gauntlet style monster generators if you grow tired of fighting a steady stream of identical beasties. Again, just hover in place and click on the lair until it is destroyed. Who thought that being a dragon would be so boringly methodical? Correct me if I’m wrong here, but shouldn’t a dragon game these days involve firing wicked streams of fire at ferocious monsters that actually move around once a battle starts?
Your dragon can also cast some spells to do things like temporarily blind enemies or summon some allies on the ground to attack nearby enemies, but the spell effects are seriously boring and they don’t give you much more of a punch than your breath so you won’t any real reason to rely on magic. You can occasionally create a town by flying to a spot and pushing a button, but the bonus this is supposed to give you in the form of more allies on the ground is negligible making this feature feel tacked on for no real reason. The coolest thing you can do in the game is to swoop down and grab a creature for a snack when you’re hungry, but trust me; this is not worth the price of admission on its own.
All of this fun comes wrapped up in dated and second-rate graphics, and includes a convoluted and obtuse interface. You can’t click on text to select an option, but must instead hunt for the very well-hidden hotspot nearby. The controls are tiny and crammed into the bottom corners of the screen, which is odd because there shouldn’t be a need for so many buttons in a game in which you can do so little. If you are looking for a little something different in an action/RPG and can put up with poor graphics and production values as well as repetitive gameplay, go ahead and give the game a try. Otherwise there’s no real reason you’d want to spend your time and money on it.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 54%. A great idea wrapped up in a very mediocre game.
System Requirements: Pentium III 600 MHz; 128 MB RAM; 16 MB Video RAM; 1.5 GB HD Space