A funny sort of RPG
I’ve been mucking about with Dragon Bane for a while now; slaying undead, battling dragons, forging powerful new gear, and so on. In all that time I still haven’t managed to figure out how I feel about it. There are some interesting ideas here and a surprising amount of unique elements. Conversely it also uses a very bizarre freemium model that dilutes the fun a bit. It’s complicated.
Surprise, surprise, an ancient evil/undead scourge is starting to spread across the land and the player’s character gets caught up in all of it. The story is rationed out little by little through cutscenes that typically bookend story quests but for the most part it just serves as an excuse to go adventuring. The real meat of Dragon Bane is all the character progression and acquisition. Every so often, when the player’s level is high enough, they can go to the tavern in an attempt to recruit new party members. A bunch of different classes can be found, each with their own unique skills. Each character can also be trained to raise their stats, equipped with better gear, and have said gear upgraded at the forge. Of course simply powering-up a few warriors won’t guarantee success; formation plays a large part as well with different configurations offering different bonuses to defense and the like.
As intricate and meticulous as all the stat and equipment management can be, Dragon Bane is actually pretty hands-off. I mean that in a good way. Running back and forth between quest givers can usually be a pain in any RPG but it’s made much more bearable here thanks to a handy Quest icon that automatically guides the player character to their target. Just tap, sit back, and wait. Combat, too, is automatic. Allies and enemies all take turns swatting at each other until one side is defeated, and in the event of victory all the player has to do is gather up the loot. And of course everything looks good while they do it thanks to the strange hybrid 3D/2D visuals that work well despite the slightly awkward animations.
Some might take issue with the less directly interactive nature of the gameplay but I found it to be relaxing. The somewhat clunky menus that hide important options (such as Daily Quests), not so much. I also found constantly shuffling items between my inventory and the bank to be a bit irritating and the constant wait times for upgrading just about everything are a bit much. Actually the wait times are probably the most difficult aspect of Dragon Bane to endure. Gear can be collectively upgraded a total of six times before the forge needs to cool down. The main character’s stat training (attack, health, etc) requires cooling down after each an every point. Fighting in the Arena has a cooldown. Just about the only thing players can do that doesn’t generate a wait time is quest, but even that’s limited because of the admittedly expected stamina bar.
There’s a moment after completing the bulk of the introduction when players are given a temporary taste of what it’s like to be a V.I.P. It’s a magical time where most of the arbitrary waiting is either scaled back or eliminated entirely and drawn out battles can be skipped. I like that version better but it requires buying premium currency and there are several tiers that offer more and more perks for more and more money. It’s not a system I’m all that crazy about, especially considering that there are others out there that don’t feel quite as punishing.