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Dragon Storm

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Dragon Storm | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Griptonite Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Strategy, Time management | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.3.0
Dragon Storm iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump to day three or day seven.

You often hear the phrase, "raining cats and dogs", but you very rarely learn of people getting trapped in a dragon-based downpour.

Is Dragon Storm, a freemium world builder from Griptonite Games, about to introduce us to a whole new category of meteorological metaphor? Probably not.

I'll be playing the title over the course of a week and reporting my findings. Why not play along with me and let me know how you're getting on?

First impressions

First impressions are not good. Not good at all.

Before I've even got into the game there's an advertisement for another one, and then a drawing of a scantily clad lady. I haven't yet set foot in Dragon Storm's fantasy world and already I've encountered two of the freemium model's ugliest traits.

Once I start playing I'm told to tap on a predesignated area to build a farm. Then I'm told to tap on another predesignated area to grow a forest. I do this for a few other building types, and then I run out of resources altogether, having completely missed the part where the game tells you how to get more. In fact, I'm fairly confident that it didn't.

So, I start spending the premium currency to pay for materials so that I can continue with the quests this odd woman in the corner of the screen is providing, and eventually I get to hatch a dragon from an egg sat atop a pillar. It looks around, then flies off, and I don't see it again before I turn the game off.

What on earth is going on? I've no idea. I'm hoping the next few days will be more fun as I find out.

Day 3: Mysterious cat people

With freemium builders, it's very easy to get led down a path of following orders and simply obeying the instructions dictated to you.

IAPs explained
The most finite of the currencies at play in Dragon Storm are Crowns.

100 Crowns are yours for £2.99 / $4.99, but 200 Crowns can be yours for £6.99 / $9.99. You can also grab free Crowns via Tapjoy, if that's your thing.

Crowns are your basic premium currency, so you use them to speed up actions, pay for missing resources... that sort of thing. Standard stuff.
This is the trap I fell into for the last couple of days, and it's all Griptonite's fault. At the bottom of the screen, the scantily clad lady tells you what you should be getting on with. For me, that's building more elements of my town.

Mines, Wizard Towers, Quarrys, and so on: all the things I need to build with the resources I gradually generate over time. You never need collect these resources, which is something that's never explained, and your only interaction with them is spending them on more buildings and troops.

It's this second element - the troops - that had me flummoxed for a bit. Why on earth was I building troops? And why could I upgrade their ability to take damage in battle?

I hadn't been told there was going to be any battling, though the shield timer ticking down on the screen hinted at the fact I might be getting into the odd scrape now and again.

It was at this point I noticed in the very bottom right of the screen the button labelled 'Story'. After tapping on it, I was whisked away to one of the game's many lengthy loading screens and presented with a tactical map.

"Oh my God," I thought, "there's a whole other game here."

And there is... albeit one that's barely explained. It appears to involve sending units you've trained to invade points on a map.

Since the few troops I had at my disposal were obliterated as soon as I sent them on their mission (by a race of mysterious cat people about which I still haven't been told much), though, I haven't progressed very far on this front.

Day 7: Drizzle

There's a fair amount of squandered potential in Dragon Storm. It starts with a lack of clarity about what you're supposed to be doing, but it goes further than that. Even if you persist and learn the rules through bitter trial-and-error, you won't find the game very satisfying once you've mastered it.

This isn't a brilliant freemium builder because you have no control where you place buildings, and it's not a brilliant freemium strategy game because you have too little control over your troops when you send them into battle.

It combines both elements well enough with its economy - you build troops to fight in the Story mode with resources that you produce in the building component. This is interesting enough.

But you're less of a commander-in-chief and more of an accountant. Can you afford to get this upgrade? No? Well maybe train some troops, send them off to battle (hoping they win), and then come back later when you've earned more resources.

The upgrades you make to your town don't seem that effective, either, giving you little sense of accomplishment. The tech you develop in the Wizard Tower seems equally ineffective, aside from giving access to some new troop types.

A final niggle: there's a constantly scrolling chat window prominently displayed near the bottom of the screen. The game seems to be overrun by moody teenagers, so if you're downloading this for a youngster, or you just don't want frustrated arguments from disaffected brats, it's something to consider.

Dragon Storm isn't terrible, but nor is it particularly enthralling. It's very difficult to get excited about any element of this mediocre release, and the game's persistent inability to explain its workings will probably keep you from trying.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Dragon Storm
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 20 May 2013
There's a decent enough game struggling to get emerge from Dragon Storm. It's just a shame that the developer doesn't seem to want you to find it
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