Dragon is Dead PAX West Impression

Dragon is Dead might seem simple on the surface but the random loot and brutal difficulty make it stand out as something to keep potentially coming back to.

Sometimes all a game needs to grab me is to be something easy and repetitive.  That can involve something like procedural generation, other times it can simply be lots of loot.  Dragon is Dead — by Team Suneat — has loot in spades, but beyond a hack-and-slash interior for equipment and skill building, it has being a tough-as-nails side-scroller to lean back on.  This fun combination of game types was available to check out at PAX West and I dove right in.

Dragon is Dead is still in very early development so many elements are subject to change.  As it stands, it features discussion with the townsfolk to gain quests, and these quests fit within a roguelike structure.  There are five different characters to use at present, with two available from the start.  Items carry over between runs, but stat and level requirements mean that a bit of adventuring will be needed to use the best gear.

Layouts for each map stay the same and enemies have preset areas they go between, but there is variety in how they appear.  Things are laid out as a straightforward side-scrolling map, with each enemy needing to be defeated to clear the map.  Doing so is not easy.  Dragon is Dead takes from nostalgic platformers and has enemies that are hard to reach and, at the beginning, are much better than using the game’s physics than the player.  Even once I got the hang of everything, I still had to keep on my toes against every enemy.  Since loot looks to drop randomly and all enemies must be cleared for progression, there’s at least some reward and purpose for going through each of them.  Saying that, from my short time in the demo there were more deaths than successful map completions.

Players are able to fill a decent number of equipment slots, including rings and amulets to provide a consistent feel of progression from the loot drops alone.  There are also chests that can be found on the map.  These chests have scrolls for new abilities or stat increases, giving the player has a choice between three options before they continue to take on more enemies.  There are three different spell elements in play within the demo with earth being left out of the traditional quartet.  Spells and abilities are definitely helpful, but getting the mechanics of the platforming and regular weapon attacks are just as important to try and stay alive.

Other than loot and chests, players will find gold needed to unlock upgrades back in town.  The upgrade interface is simple with buttons for potion, health, and mana, as well as the equipped abilities.  Progressing through the game consists of working through each of the dungeons, gaining new loot, and unlocking things back in town.  Dragon is Dead might seem simple on the surface but the random loot and brutal difficulty make it stand out as something to keep potentially coming back to.

Dragon is Dead is very early in development still and many things could change before it releases.  The main loop of side-scrolling hack-and-slasher currently works well in tandem with its friendly interface.  It will remain to be seen how it stands up across extended play time, but the amount of loot provided a good sense of power growth, couple with a strong challenge.  Dragon is Dead is aiming for a Steam release in 2024. 


Ryan Costa

Friendly neighbourhood reviewer that thinks every RPG should be discussed, because one never knows where a hidden gem can appear.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply