Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Unlike many other freemium and social gaming titles, DragonVale isn't about building cities or successful farms. Instead it's all about raising and nurturing dragons - a much more adorable proposition than building houses.
It's the kind of theme that means DragonVale lends itself perfectly to the younger gaming market. It's also worth any sensible parent disabling in-app purchases as DragonVale makes the allure of buying extra gems or cash very tempting.
You see, DragonVale is a bit of a slow burner. Unlike something like CityVille Hometown, there's no huge focus on a structured experience. While a tutorial is very helpful, DragonVale is mostly about creating the world that the player wants to concoct.
As the tutorial explains, each dragon type requires a different habitat to live in based upon the element of the dragon. Plant and Fire habitats are the main types at first with Cold, Flower, Lava, Moss and Poison types unlockable further on through a mixture of levelling up and gem payments. Some special forms also emerge providing players figure out the best way of breeding such creatures, adding a great experimental element to the game.
Building up the park is quite fun but it can involve a limited amount of interaction. After a while, players mostly check in to feed the dragons, collect money and destroy some more scenery in order to build more habitats and other buildings such as a breeding area or farm. Everything takes time, even removing rocks or trees, meaning that this is a game that has a hefty time requirement in order to achieve great results.
This is where the in-app purchase side of things comes into play as it really does speed things up a great deal. The temptation to put some real money down in order to get further along in the game is extremely tempting. The social element of trading gifts and visiting friends via Game Center or Facebook lists certainly helps discourage things but it's still tempting.
DragonVale is a charming and cutesy game but I'd love to see more of a mission structure to the goals. While goals do appear, it feels like some form of story might have been nice. Nonetheless, kids will love the satisfaction of watching their dragons grow and evolve. Breeding dragons and seeing the results is particularly fun with vivid graphics adding to the experience. Just steer them away from spending too much on gems when they get a little impatient.