Dragon Fantasy: Book I Review (PS3/PS Vita)
For the better part of a month, I’d been thinking about playing an old-school RPG. Wanting to go back to simpler times where over-the-top graphics didn’t matter and fun gameplay was king, I was intrigued when I started to hear about Dragon Fantasy: Book I, a new old-school RPG from Muteki Corp.
*Due to the game having four separate, but also connected, storylines, you’ll notice the format for this review is a little different than those previous.
How Much Is It?
How is Ogden’s Story?
If you start in numerical order, you’ll find yourself playing as Ogden, an ex-hero who goes off on an adventure, escaping the mundanity of his life. Since each chapter seemingly represents a progression of the RPG formula, this one is extremely bare bones.
Rather than being able to have a bunch of different people in your party, fighting a bunch of different enemies, it is just Ogden the whole way through, and you’ll only ever fight one enemy at a time. While that may not sound too terrible off the bat, it isn’t executed very well.
Because Ogden starts out so weak and the enemies can be quite tough, the one word I can use to describe his story is “grinding.” Throughout this 4+ hour campaign, I found that 90% of it was grinding so I could actually get to the next cave or town safely (herbs and potato juice are a huge necessity), 5% healing/being revived/stocking up on items, and 5% actually progressing towards the Dark Knight and the Dark Lord.
Honestly, if Dragon Fantasy: Book I was just Ogden’s story and nothing else, you would have seen a much lower score. Thankfully, it isn’t.
How is Ander’s Story?
Much improved over Ogden’s story, Ander’s story takes place within the same universe as the previous chapter, while offering a different viewpoint. With this one, you can recruit people into your party, while still fighting against a single enemy. The extra members on your team do mean that the difficulty and grinding is reduced, leading towards a better experience, but I beat it in about an hour.
To make matters worse, Ander’s story ends so abruptly and without a satisfying conclusion that you won’t even understand why the trophy just unlocked for you completing it.
How is Jerald’s Story?
Continuing past the ending of Ander’s story, Jerald’s story ups the RPG ante even further, introducing multiple enemies to fight against, while also keeping the ability to have more than one party member. Though you’ll still get into quite a few battles, the focus this time is more on collecting 20,000 gold, which can be found by killing enemies and searching for treasure.
With the introduction of multiple enemies, and an even further reduced difficulty curve, I really started to enjoy Jerald’s story, and on a broader sense, the world created within Dragon Fantasy: Book I. Unfortunately, as was the case with Ander’s story, this ended way too quickly (just over 90 minutes), and, once again, the abrupt ending that left many questions unanswered.
How was Intermission M: A Minecraft Story?
Easily the best of the bunch, Intermission M takes a break from the actual story and sends a group of previously established characters onto an island that is, for all intents and purposes, Minecraft. The clever writing that you’ll encounter throughout Dragon Fantasy: Book I (many enemies have issues) is ramped up with this chapter, with numerous Minecraft-related jokes thrown in, and even an appearance by a well known developer.
As was the case with the two previous stories, this one ends way too quickly, dropping to a brisk 30 – 40 minutes. This was a huge disappointment as you were able to recruit monsters into your party, fight multiple enemies, and even fight a dragon.
And now back to our regularly scheduled questions:
How Does it Look?
It’s an old-school RPG, so it looks like a game from a couple decades ago, but since that’s exactly what they were shooting for, it looks as good as you’d expect.
Is It Hard?
As I said above, Ogden’s story is very difficult, causing most of it to just be grinding. Past that, as long as you carry enough herbs and potato juice, it’s pretty straightforward because even if a character dies in your party, they come back to life once you defeat all the enemies.
Oh, and since it’s an old-school RPG, expect a battle every 5 steps.
How Long is It?
Beating all four campaigns will take roughly 8 – 10 hours depending on your skill level, with Ogden’s story by far being the one that lasts the longest, which isn’t a good thing.
Is it Fun?
At times, yes. Dragon Fantasy: Book I is a fully functioning RPG with interesting enemies to fight, various spells to unlock, and caves to explore, but it doesn’t hit nearly enough high notes. Ogden’s story was pretty much devoid of fun, with the enjoyment increasing in each passing chapter, though each of those chapters end so quickly that it stopped my fun in its tracks and forced me to start over again with a new storyline and characters.
Is It Worth the Money?
Sitting at $10 (and coming with Cross Buy), I would recommend to the casual buyer that you wait for a sale to about $5 before picking this up. If, however, you are desperately wanting a new old-school RPG to add to your PlayStation family and can’t wait for a sale, $10 isn’t too hard of a pill to swallow.
Should You Buy It?
Dragon Fantasy: Book I does have its moments, but a bad first story that dominates the majority of the playtime leaves me hesitant to say “yes.” So, if you really want a game like this, I think you should buy it to at least scratch that itch. If you feel like you can wait and are interested in a game like this, buy it when it goes on sale at some point down the road.
What Should They Improve for the Sequel?
Well, since Dragon Fantasy: Book II is already on the way and brings a big graphical boost to the franchise, I can only suggest that there isn’t a dud amongst the storylines and that they reduce the amount of ludicrous text you have to scroll through in each battle. I would have also added that they need to improve the hit percentage a ton – as you can miss 5 times in a row regularly – but that is already being fixed in a patch for Book I.
Aside from what they should improve for Book II, I just hope that the ramp up in quality that started with Ander’s story carries over to the sequel.