Be honest now: if you were given a choice between fighting a dragon versus not fighting a dragon, what would you choose? I would choose not to fight the dragon. I would choose to befriend the dragon. And then the dragon and I would fly about, incinerating the unpleasant and laughing about it. What a jolly time we would have, the dragon and I.
Melbourne-based developers 3 Sprockets launched their new hack 'n slash RPG last week. It is, as you may have gathered, titled Fight The Dragon. There isn't much of a choice around the dragon, sadly. You can choose not to fight it, but it will most definitely choose to fight you.
The dragon, though, is a sideline to what Fight The Dragon is really about. And what it's really about is undertaking bite-sized adventures in small levels, explored through a tile-based overworld from your home base. The majority of these adventures are community-sourced, built using the in-game Adventure Construction Kit. 3 Sprockets are promising "over 100 hours of unique gameplay", and if the game takes off then I'm confident there'll be rather more than that.
I've put a little time into the game; certainly not enough for a full-on Wot I Think but enough for a small Some Thinks I Had. The game has a charming blocky look; it's an aesthetic 3 Sprockets used previously in Cubemen. It's perhaps not to everyone's taste but it does make for a clean and focused style. So far I've not found the combat to be the deepest example of its type but it's very early days for my plucky fightman, and I will say that in tougher fights I've found myself dodging around a lot more than I ever did in Torchlight (a game I enjoyed, but in which I spent 75% of my time holding down Shift).
The bite-sized nature of the game makes it ideal for dip-in and dip-out play, which is great for a quick solo bash or a pressed-for-time multiplayer session. The flipside of that is that there's no real narrative context for the game; no epic quest for justice or heroism. I guess that's why Fight The Dragon encourages you to fight the dragon: it's a yardstick to measure your progress against. A biiiig, firebreathing yardstick.
I've also dabbled with the adventure editor, and while my creations won't be winning level design awards any time soon it's a pretty decent editor which will allow players to assemble their visions quickly and easily. As in the adventuring part of the game there are some minor irritations (keyboard camera controls are fiddly) alongside some thoughtful considerations (grid highlights help you line up tiles you're placing correctly).