Dragon Fang Z is a roguelike dungeon crawler played from a top-down view, and when I first saw it, it gave me some major Chocobo’s Dungeon vibes. I was absolutely obsessed with Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 on the PlayStation 1 back in the day, so when I saw the trailer for Dragon Fang Z I was ready to dive right in, no questions asked. What followed was a shoddily-executed game with some glaring flaws, but also some good points in its favor. This is going to be a tricky one, so buckle up and read on to see if this game is right for you.
As far as looks go, Dragon Fang Z is full of beautiful, charming, colorful 2D sprites that are animated quite smoothly, making it a game that is very easy on the eyes. It is easily one of the high points of the game. The audio isn’t too shabby, either. The tracks aren’t majestic, but they aren’t annoying on the ears either: it’s very easy to ignore while concentrating on the gameplay, to be honest. I usually just play my own music when I’m playing grindy games like this, anyhow. The audio and visual definitely aren’t the problem here. The story, on the other hand, is atrocious. The translation is easily one of the worst I have ever seen. If you were looking for an engaging narrative experience, you can just stop the review here and go look for something else. On the other hand, if you are only interested in engaging gameplay, then follow me down this dark alleyway, I have something to show you. Trust me, I’m a professional.
Playing as Rose the Dragonewt, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go floor by floor looking for treasure, fighting monsters, and leveling up, until you reach the bottom of the dungeon. It would be pretty straightforward, except for one thing: permadeath. I’m no stranger to permadeath, and I would even go as far as to say that I actually enjoy it from time to time. But, if you want to make a feature like that work, you have to give something in return, something to reward the player and encourage him to keep on trying. Dragon Fang Z doesn’t contain anything like that. What you get instead is getting to start the dungeon over from the very first floor. You lose all your items, fangs, equipment, and your level resets back to one. Considering how luck plays a huge factor in the quality of equipment you find and the difficulty once you get to higher floors, this feature is a huge detriment to the fun factor. There is a way to save a few items for your next dungeon run, but this also involves luck, as you need to find a certain type of box that allows you to place limited items in them to send back to your warehouse. Still not deterred? Let’s talk about the actual gameplay.
The basics are pretty simple. Rose only has one basic attack. You also get a handy bow & arrow, but ammo is finite. You don’t start off with any arrows or equipment, just a couple of items in your inventory. Everything else must be found whilst exploring. Smacking around monsters nets you experience, which in turn levels you up. Dragon fang Z is turn-based in a way: if you stand still, the enemy does the same. They will only make a move whenever Rose does something: whether she is attacking, moving, or just using an item from her inventory. There is a counter in the top-left corner of the screen that drops by one every time you move a step or take an action. This is called Dragon Time. When it drops to zero, Rose will take damage until she dies. It’s a mechanic put in place to stop you from getting too comfortable on a floor. Moving between floors restores some Dragon Time, while there are also items that can be used restore it as well. There are also a plethora of useful/dangerous items to be found that Rose can make use of. Sometimes the items are unidentified when you pick them up, so you won’t know what the item will do until you either use another item to identify it, or, use it on yourself or a monster. This can be problematic though since the last thing you want to do is accidentally evolve an incoming monster into a more powerful form and get murdered. Aren’t mystery items fun?!?
Easily the most important mechanic in this game is the ability to acquire the fangs of defeated monsters. When a monster if defeated, there is a random chance that they will drop their name-specific fang. This is very important for two reasons. First, you can choose to ‘offer up’ the fang, which will permanently remove it from your inventory and grant you a permanent boon. This usually comes in the form of stat increases, giving Rose a much-needed boost to her HP, attack, or defense stats, for example. Your second option is to equip it as an accessory. If you go this route, not only do you benefit from whatever bonus the fang gives you while equipped (It isn’t the same as the bonus that you would get by offering it up), but you also gain the use of the unique special skill that comes with it. These skills are unique to each fang and give you access to a wider array of tactics that you can use to help smite your enemies, aside from the basic attack and bow & arrow. Poison skills and healing are the ones I try to keep handy at all times. Poisoning a monster with high defense and then running around it until it dies is much easier than going blow for blow. Rose can equip up to three fangs at a time.
So overall, Dragon Fang Z is a mixed bag, and how much enjoyment you will get out of it really depends on how many of its flaws you are willing to ignore. If you are extremely enthusiastic about roguelike gameplay and are willing to overlook the lack of story and the laughable translation, not to mention the poorly thought-out permadeath feature that essentially wipes out all your progress, then go ahead and give this game a whirl. But me, personally, I would recommend avoiding Dragon Fang Z.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 5/10
Player2Reviews aims to be a reputable second opinion on the gaming industry covering news, reviews, and commentary on all things pop-culture!
All 3DS Batman #BreakdownsAndBrews DLC Giveaways Google Play Hardware IOS/Android Late Night Netflix Let's Play Movies News Nintendo Nintendo Switch Original PC Player2Plays Preview PS4 PS Vita Review Reviews Steam Submissions #TBTReview Trailers Twitch Unboxing Video Games Xbox Xbox One Youtube