As Hiccup would say; ‘This is Berk, its twelve days north of hopeless and a few degrees south of freezing to death.  My village.’  Or rather your village now.  As Dragons:  Rise of Berk puts you squarely in the affable Vikings boots and in charge of raising your own dragon sanctuary.

Rise of Berk is a city builder that charms players and fans of the movie right out of the gate.  You’re introduced to the titular island of Berk, the backdrop of How to Train your Dragon, and tasked with rescuing different breeds of dragons around the world as soon as the whistle blows.  As you rescue more dragons of various breeds you get the ability to task them to resource collection.  Wood and Fish rule the thriving economy of Berk it seems, and your lovingly raised reptiles can collect either to be stored for later use.

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The core concepts are remarkably simple and user friendly, which for a casual game like Rise of Berk is perfect.  The real draw comes for fans of the films and television show, which I am entirely unashamed to call myself.  The visuals are gorgeous and Berk is instantly recognizable.  All of the famous dragon breeds are available to rescue and raise as you level up, and the full cast of characters from the films are present as quest givers and story tellers.  To top it all of the official soundtrack plays throughout, making the entire experience about as immersive as a free-to-play city builder gets.

While at first it may seem to smack of games like DragonVale or Gizmonauts, Rise of Berk focuses less on the various combinations of dragons you can breed and more on hunting down and raising the iconic reptiles from the film franchise.  You won’t have any opportunity to breed a Night Fury and a Gronkle in hopes of cashing in on something even more epic.  Instead you’ll be focused on leveling up your dragons and getting them ready for the eventual Battle Mode.

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The design options available for Berk are also fairly simple at this stage (though bear in mind the game is only two months old, barely out of the shell).  You won’t find the myriad of houses and decorations available in The Simpsons Tapped Out or even Battle Nations, not even by half.  But the options are there, and likely growing based on the sheer wealth of space that the game makes available for you to expand.  At release the count is at six islands you can unlock, giving you lots of room to grow.

With design, city building and incredibly adorable dragons cornered, Rise of Berk also promises to deliver another mode of gameplay in the future.  A Battle Mode has been advertised as coming soon since the game’s release last month, and each dragon has a Battle Statistic that also reads coming soon.  So we might see a little bit of action on Berks horizon, which is never a bad thing.

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As the game ramps up, so too does the time scale.  Finding newer breeds of dragon takes longer as Hiccup and Toothless have to fly further afield, and each venture doesn’t necessarily come with the guarantee of a new dragon egg.  In the same light, back on Berk your colourful beasts can collect resources for longer periods of time.  This lends to the games casual nature, making it something you can pick up and put down every few hours.

With vibrant visuals, clean animations and straightforward mechanics, Dragons: Rise of Berk really delivers.  So if you’re a fan of the movies, dragons, or both, Rise of Berk is well worth taking for a spin.