Dragonborne (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £12
Where To Get It: Steam

The GameBoy still has a treasured place in many hearts. Its simplistic graphics and its relative accessibility compared to other handhelds, its library, memories of playing it in schoolyards, and of its awful, awful screen sticking with many.

And so, someone naturally made an engine that can easily make gameboy games, with gameboy limitations. And so, someone in the modern day made a commercial indie RPG with gameboy limitations, in a gameboy engine. And so we have Dragonborne.

Issa good title screen though, I gotta admit.

This is, right off the bat, a limited appeal. Gameboy limitations mean a limited palette, mostly greens, small, chonky sprites… And bitcrushed sound which will sometimes conflict with other sounds, like, for example, the music. It be beeps, boops, and noise, which can be used well, and are used well, with some cool tracks, but… It’s an acquired taste.

And, of course, it’s a homage to gameboy JRPGs, which were, it must be said, a somewhat limited bunch. For the early game you can attack, or use potions. Thems your lot until you learn magic, and get hold of at least one sword, each of which has their own special attacks. But until then, and even, to a lesser extent after this, everything’s a damage race. A low stakes damage race, because once enemies are defeated, they remain defeated, but… Combat doesn’t have much depth, and the progression is in items, not in levels or XP or whatnot.

This is correct, you must everyone in town… Talk to everyone in town. Jeez, dunno where that

The story, similarly, is low key, no massive worldbuilding, no grand stuff, just people giving hints, or chatting briefly, fetch quests, minigames (such as rock paper scissors), and puzzles, which often consist of our old “friend”, block pushing. It has stakes, but they’re gradually revealed, and what begins as “My dad is missing, and bandits may be responsible” grows into “Ohshit, dragons” (although this is heavily foreshadowed, as with many gameboy RPGs. Y’know, like Pokemon)

This isn’t a bad thing, by the way. These are “It’s a thing” things. But it’s a very specific experience, and it’s one for a pretty specific sort of taste.

And that, honestly, is what I really need to say. It’s not a bad game, although I do wish the combat was a little more than a damage race, and I wish there were less block puzzles, but it is something that appeals to a very specific audience, and I would say to watch the first part of a Let’s Play or something like that to see if it would be the kind of experience you’d want to play.

Attack, attack, attack, or attack? Oh, or item, but I don’t need that right now… Attack it is then!

Hell, I advise that in general with any game, but moreso with games like this. A very specific recommendation, then.

The Mad Welshman played the hell out of The Addams Family way back when. He regrets nothing.

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