Dragon Slayer, a new Infinity Blade-esque game brought to us by Glu is yet another take on the “swipe, swipe, swipe, push a button, swipe, spend money” genre of gaming that seems to be the only thing I happen to have the misfortune of coming across on the Google Play market. Bear in mind that I come from a background of covering -- and loving -- independent titles, so covering games that are essentially re-skins of a game that came out years ago is a bit depressing.
OK, so I am being a little dramatic. My point stands though: do we really need another combat-swiper game? Do we really need to test our reflexes so bad that we’ll do it by playing boring, good looking games? My reflexes are fine. I can swipe the my finger on the screen just fine. I have had years of training, and have been a drummer and artist since I was a child... my reflexes are still up to snuff. I wouldn’t mind training them by using a game and I certainly would have no issues attacking giant, impressively rendered dragons like the ones you’ll find in Dragon Slayer, but the title alone shows just how much originality was used in the conception of the game. Meaning hardly any at all.
Sure, I can enjoy a game based around a mechanic or series of mechanics. In Dragon Slayer, the mechanic I’m referring to is an action-based combat system that utilizes the touch screen semi-brilliantly. To dodge an attack from a dragon, players touch the dodge button on either side of the screen. To fire off magical blasts, players swipe at the screen and the avatar shoots magic bolts -- or something, I’m not sure I care enough to notice the difference -- at the dragon. My real issue comes in when I consider how little I am inspired by a game that pushes me right into a battle with hardly a nod at lore or without trying to suck me into much of a story. Why should I attack this dragon? Why can’t I swipe and we become friends, and then I fly off on his back? At least that would be fun.
I appreciate the fact that Glu has taken away swords and replaced them with magical shooty-things, but honestly it doesn’t matter. They could have taken out swords and replaced them with Twinkies or hot dogs; the effect is the same as it was way back when we first played games from this genre. Magic, swords or hot dogs: it’s all still just swiping. Oh, and as someone on Twitter pointed out to me, there is an occasional tap or press.
There’s a sort of linear path that you’ll follow as you play through Dragon Slayer, killing dragons along the way. You can also customize your character and, of course, purchase potions and little items that speed up recovery between fights. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a developer giving out a free game and asking players to purchase tiny cash-shop items to play further. I only have a problem with it when the game’s cash-shop offerings are flashed between every scene. I am constantly reminded that I can buy a potion in order to help my character out. Again, I see nothing wrong with asking for cash, but I am way more likely to spend some money on a game like Dragon Slayer if it just sold really cool stuff without making me feel like I am sitting inside a smoky casino somewhere. Between all the swiping, button pressing and potion begging I felt a bit like a fool.
A new player might consider the combat and graphics in Dragon Slayer to be epic or awesome. I’ve seen it all too many times, however. Switching things up by adding a combat pet and magic into the scenario hasn’t changed a thing about what is essentially another Infinity Blade game. The linear map is really just a tied-together series of fights, and while the dragons do seem to have some nice design behind them, they quickly lose their luster after about the third fight.
I handed this game to one of my hyperactive nephews over the Thanksgiving holiday. He’s a real jittery sort and often exclaims -- very loudly -- just how much he might be enjoying a mobile game while the adults are talking about family drama or how delicious the apple pie is. He played it for a while, asked me “So, there’s no real story or anything?” and gave it back without so much as a squeal of delight or yelp of excitement.
He even mentioned Infinity Blade as he walked off, bored.