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iOS Review: King of Dragon Pass

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (2x)
Current Price: $9.99
Developer/Publisher: A Sharp, LLC.
Version: 2.0.2
Size: 96.9 MB
Multiplayer: N/A
AI: N/A
Itunes link:http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/king-of-dragon-pass/id3355455...
 
 


The Good:
Hours of gameplay in a single play-through and motivation to play again and again.
A fully interactive story with dozens of strategic and civ building elements to manage and master.
Captures the feelings of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book in a grown up form
The Bad:
This is a hardcore game, be prepared for a sharp learning curve. It also has a hefty manual that will be required reading in order to master the game.
Some of the story elements are little morally ambiguous for my taste.
 
Gameplay:
Do you remember reading “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a child and long for something similar but deeper? Have you ever dreamed of some sort of crazy role playing game/civilization building hybrid? King of Dragon Pass offers all of this in a package that feels right at home on iOS. It is a full port from a 1999 PC game, but do not be fooled by its age.

In King of Dragon Pass you play as the leader of clan hoping to lead your clan to superiority over the land of Dragon Pass. There is a short and long game either challenging players to survive for 10 years or to become king of Dragon Pass (a much longer process). At the start of the game players are introduced to the world and how it got to be in the state it currently is in. Throughout this process players will make choices that will set up the starting characteristics of their clan. After this is complete players are launched into managing their clan. The game is played out in a series of seasons. During each season players can explore, set up trade with other clans, attack other clans, build temples to gods, and much much more. During these seasons random attacks or events will occur that will require players to make choices much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. These choices can have major effects on the story and will even affect the resources of the player. For example, if a vagabond enters your camp you can accept him into your tribe, give him food and send him on his way or kick him out. Each of these choices will affect your clan and the opinion of the clan about your leadership. These are just some examples and there is much more to do than I have described here. The game will continue until you achieve one of the possible endings.

Implementation:
King of Dragon Pass is an extremely deep and complex game, and the game can be experienced on many levels. Each play-through will offer new challenges as well as new insights into the games twisted structure. This app combines the meaningful decisions of an RPG with the complex resource and worker management of a euro strategy game. It should have great appeal for a large audience.

The design of King of Dragon Pass really shows its age. The game is all told through a series of menus ranging from the complex clan menu to interactive story moments featuring large full screen art. The art itself is a style popular in 90’s PC games, and though it does appear crisp and detailed, it may not appeal to all modern game players. The main clan menu is where most of the actions take place. From here you can access all of the varied options in the game including, changing your clan advisors, building temples to various gods, sending exploration teams to search the land, and several other things. This menu system is very dense and will take some exploration, but the game does do a good job of introducing you to most of the basic concepts via a tutorial, and you are able to explore the deeper elements as the game progresses.

As mentioned above, King of Dragon Pass does features a tutorial that will guide you through the initial year of a game. The tutorial was very helpful and introduced many of the basic concepts, but if you continue to play with just this knowledge you can succeed but you will see things begin to get more difficult. As the “years” progress you will notice that things become more complex, for example in the later stages of the game you will need to make sure you have appeased the proper gods in order to succeed in certain tasks. To really excel at the later stages of the app you will need to delve into the large manual included with the game. It is a large task but it is necessary if you plan on getting deep into the game.

However, all of this work is not without reward. King of Dragon Pass achieves a level of complexity rarely seen on iOS. There are over 40 hours of gameplay in a single play-through and with the variety available in each time through, it is feasible to play this game multiple times and get an entirely different experiences. This is partially due to the fact that your decisions really matter, for example, you could spend one whole campaign being a jerk, enslaving and murdering people, and you could spend another only trading and never going to war. The decision is yours and you will really start to feel like you are building something. This is really one of those rare immersive experiences, and it fits snugly in your pocket.

There are parts of King of Dragon Pass that can be hard to swallow. The difficulty level can sometimes be tricky. Just like with “Choose Your Own Adventure”, you can find yourself hitting a dead end through bad decisions early on. It is fair, but frustrating. The game also carries a pretty lofty price tag at $9.99. Now, it may not wow you visually like other titles in that price range but with the amount of content and complexity includes, it can be justified. The game is also iPhone only which seems strange, but we can hope that a universal update will be coming. As you can see there are many improvements that would make the game more fitting on iOS, but they do not too greatly distract from this unique digital experience.


Conclusion:
King of Dragon Pass is an intriguing game. It will not be for everyone, and its price tag should be a good reflection of the level of commitment needed for this game. If you are looking for a deep and engrossing RPG and strategy experience, this app may be for you. It is an enjoyable storytelling game that takes the genre to a new level.

Rating: 3/4 Good
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Subscribe sub options Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:04 pm
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