Fight The Dragon is an Early Access game now available on Steam. If you are not familiar with the Early Access concept, it essentially means that the game is still in a state of active development, like an Alpha or Beta version. An Early Access game may be anywhere between a near unplayable state to a mostly finished game that needs some polish and bug fixes. Fight The Dragon is a playable game that is missing some non-vital features that will be added further into development.
Fight The Dragon is a Hack’n Slash action role-playing game inspired by games such as the classic Gauntlet, in which you team up or go alone in levels which are created by other players of the game. The levels are designed to be able to complete them in around ten to twenty minutes which makes it ideal for quick blasts, or play consecutive maps for longer sessions.
At the time of writing there are three character classes to choose from. A warrior, fire lord and a wizard. A fourth class, a black rogue, is coming soon. As you would expect, each class have varying strengths and weaknesses, warriors do more mêlée damage and have higher health for example. While wizards do high magic damage, have lower health but can run faster. There is a good selection of classes to suit everyone’s play style.
As you progress through the game you gain experience which in turn levels up your character. You can increase a few stats to do more damage, gain health etc. You also unlock new special attacks which use up some stamina or rage depending on the attack. Stamina replenishes over time, while rage can only be replenished by drinking potions found in the levels. Items can be found by defeating enemies or by looting crates. There are a wealth of combinations for weapons and armour split into categories such as common and rare and equipping them visually changes your character with is always a nice feature. Each item have their own strengths, weaknesses and buffs and you can spend a long time comparing weapons to see which is the best.
You pick your next adventure via a map like hub system. Your home is at the center of the hub and empty tiles stretch outwards. Clicking on an empty tile will choose and play a level either created by the games developers or by fellow players. You can filter the type of level such as the difficulty, most played and most popular. At the time of writing there are around 1100 levels which can potentially keep you busy for thousands of hours.
As mentioned the levels generally take around ten to twenty minutes to complete which you can play split-screen two players locally, or up to four players online. Often you find that the level designers have included a short story to give the game a bit of basis. This can be anything from saving a village overrun by enemies to simply exploring or escaping a dungeon. The aim is to find the exit in one piece and along the way you may have to kill enemies, avoid traps or complete puzzle like scenarios such as placing barrels on pressure plates to open doors. The variety is limited by the level designers imagination, so expect some very well designed levels which are great fun to play and replay, to some pretty poor ones which feel like a waste of time.
Completing a level will occasionally reward you with a Dragon Scroll which allows you to enter the dragons lair and fight a dragon. This is the main objective of the game and is what you build towards completing. The dragon has a million health points and you initially do very little damage, a few points at best. You are able to take on the dragon from the start but you will be lucky to last thirty seconds, so leveling up, finding the best gear and trying again is the best course of action. Defeating the dragon apparently rewards you with some great items, I haven’t quite managed it yet!
The level design part of the game, called Adventure Construction Kit (ACK), is very comprehensive. You are free to design levels how you want to, but you must keep within a fairly generous resource limit and the level must be completable. You can design and build a level from the ground up quite easily. If you want a quick level design you can simply place ground, scenery and enemies where you want them. If you want to be more adventurous you can give the enemies patrol routes to follow, create logic systems for traps and doorways and loads more.
The ACK seems to be the main focus of development and I can understand why. Expanding these features means there is more variety in the level designs and content from the start. This means that the actual game feels a little sparse in some ways. You can collect many items and loot but there is nothing to spend the rewards on. The developers are planning to introduce a Loot Shrine in which you offer your spare items and loot and in return are rewarded with better items. It feels like a bit of a grind with no reward for doing so until this is implemented. This will of course come in a future update so it is not a major issue, but is worth mentioning if you want some rewards for your effort.
The pace of development is quite rapid, with new updates around twice a week. I did not encounter any game breaking issues and as the game currently stands, it feels solid. I tried the online multiplayer with two other players and it worked with no issues at all. For the price ($15/£12) it is good value for money with potentially thousands of hours of gameplay. The actual gameplay side is slightly lacking in places at the time of writing, but if you enjoy building maps you can easily forget that and get creating until these features are added.
We do not give scores for Early Access games, but we may re-review the game or update this article with scores when the game is complete. You can find out more information on Fight The Dragon via the homepage at http://fightthedragon.com/ and purchase it from Steam here.0