This article was originally published at Another-Castle.com
Imagine Spyro in 2D, with a better soundtrack and a lot more brutality.
Platform: PC (Steam)
Developer: Brainbox Software
Dragon’s Wake could be simply described as a platformer but there is a bit more to it than that. As you can guess, you control a dragon that begins the game as a baby and gradually grows through the brief adventure into a fire-breathing giant. The growth happens over time by killing and devouring enemies which include bats, goblins, snakes and lizards along with more exotic and supernatural monsters. You start off only able to slash and make small jumps but can soon fly, hurl fireballs and destroy rocks with a powerful stomp. The pace at which this happens is well done and right through, I found myself getting something new or improved as I mastered what came before.
What differentiates the gameplay in Dragon’s Wake is the way the dragon controls. If you ever played the Spyro series, you’ll be familiar with Spyro’s glide ability. Dragon’s Wake is similar though in 2D. Most platforms won’t be reachable by simply jumping and you’ll have to go as high as you can and take long jumps between platforms. As you go, you also earn the ability to flap your wings which functions like a double jump. The areas in this game are designed all around this and though it may look sloppy in the screenshots, there is a clear purpose to the design. There is also a healthy sense of accomplishment that comes from scaling and traversing the various locations in the game.
The combat is the weakest aspect of the gameplay. This is mostly because you have to be quite close to pull off slash attacks and the hit boxes take a while to get used to. This is particularly noticeable during the games boss battles where mastery of the controls is tested. This is not to say it’s bad as it was especially enjoyable hurling flames in the air and watching creatures fall dead to the ground before consuming them for health. It is just not quite as refined and enjoyable as the general platforming sections are.
The visuals are obviously very dated and simple but this is forgivable given this is a one man project for the price of a cup of coffee. The art on the loading screens however does a good job of adding detail to the world. The story of the game is almost all within the game world and there is no spoken dialogue or cut scenes. I’ve been careful not to give any details about the story though as the game is roughly an hour or two long and a lot happens in that time. I also really enjoyed the music which hit the right notes musically and emotionally. I should also mention that at one point in the game I noticed a scripting issue where I was unable to continue so I had to kill the dragon and restart before this corrected.
Dragon’s Wake is a brief experience but by the end, I didn’t feel that my time or money was wasted. I finished the game in a single sitting and I imagine most people will do the same. Like many writers here, I like to avoid bringing time and money into it and focus on the experience. If you were going into a café for the first time, you might be disappointed with how the coffee tastes. I’d say you’re far more likely to enjoy Dragon’s Wake than you are a coffee from an unknown barista and you\’re looking at the same price for the experience.