App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Dragon Blast is one of those games that is a lot more fun than it looks. Maybe it’s just me but those screen shots didn’t exactly fill me with confidence when I first started it up. Once I actually started playing it, however, I found a surprisingly solid and entertaining physics puzzle game. Once I played a little more I also found what might very well be the worst free-to-play mechanic ever to be paired with a puzzle game.
Some mean old soldiers have stolen a dragon’s egg, and naturally the dragon isn’t too excited about it. He takes to the sky and exacts his revenge upon the kidnappers by any means necessary. So long as those means involve spitting fireballs. This isn’t just about hocking fire loogies, though. These flaming gobs can be used to incinerate unarmored enemies, melt through ice barriers, ignite explosives, push boulders, and more. It’s in the combination of all these elements that the gameplay really starts to shine.
The environmental puzzles in Dragon Blast can be both devious and clever. Some might require careful timing while others have to have each element tackled in a specific order. When it all comes together in the post-tutorial levels it all becomes an odd sort of Rube Goldberg Machine of Firey Death and Smashing. Boulders will roll off of ledges and crush knights, icicles will impale wandering archers, and so on. Some of the puzzles are a bit trial and error but that’s fairly typical of this sort of thing. Which is unfortunate because the freemium structure turns this minor quibble into a major issue and almost completely derails any possible enjoyment.
Dragon Blast uses an energy mechanic, only they refer to it as “lives.” Terminology aside, it basically means that players can only play for so long before they need to wait for stuff to refill. This in itself wouldn’t be too bad except that every single attempt takes one life. If they fail or restart, it uses another one. This means that it’s possible to burn through the entire stock in just a couple of levels, which is every bit as frustrating as it sounds. Actually it might be a little more frustrating than that.
Yes, Dragon Blast is free. That makes it easy to look past at least two thirds of the levels being locked behind a $0.99 paywall. It also makes the ads reasonable, if a little excessive since there’s already a freemium cutoff. However, all of that in addition to the completely ridiculous energy mechanic sucks a good deal of fun out of what should be a great physics puzzle game.