An Open Letter: Fight The Dragon (Steam Early Access)

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Here at SkipCutscene, we refuse to do traditional reviews of Early Access games because, in our opinion, they’re not finished yet. Instead, we file them under the SkipCutscene version of a preview, an ‘open letter’ to the developer, commenting on the state of the game ‘as-is’ and offering helpful suggestions, because we’re nice like that.

Dear 3 Sprockets,

I’m writing to you today with regards to your user-generated hack ‘n slash Fight The Dragon, currently available on Steam’s Early Access. Having spent a few hours with the game, I have a couple of suggestions that I wish to see implemented at your earliest convenience in order to make the game as brilliant an experience as possible, because these are things I know about.

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–          Very much enjoyed the fact that, on the opening hub world, I can plummet to my doom almost immediately. I would suggest a pop-up of some kind that states “you are an idiot”, so as to capitalise on the personal feeling of being an idiot that results from doing such an idiotic thing as if I were the most idiotic idiot to ever… idiot.

–          In a game called ‘Fight The Dragon’, I was initially very perturbed that I couldn’t, in fact, ‘fight the dragon’. Turns out a bug was sending me to the level editor instead and I can now, in ‘Fight The Dragon’, actually fight the dragon. I died a lot. It’s a big dragon. Could possibly do with being bigger.

–          Jumping into the meat of the game, I noticed my progression was entirely random as the game presents a random choice of mostly user-generated maps, with a couple made by yourselves. Almost literally a ‘couple’ since the game’s reporting you’ve included only 10 developer-made maps so far. I’d suggest more of these, because relying on your fanbase to make up the majority of your game’s content is more than a little risky. Case in point: PewDiePie

–          Online co-op is pleasantly lag-free, from what I’ve played. The problem you’ve got here is the problem you get with every co-op game: Without some kind of intelligent auto-balance, everything is too easy when you add more people. In one map, I ran around pulling the aggro of every single enemy in the level while my partner came up behind and slaughtered them with impunity. Hilarious, but broken.

–          I appreciate the philosophical commentary of the ‘Loot Shrine’. Offering my hard-earned but unwanted loot and gold up to an omnipresent videogame deity for tangible long-term rewards like skill points or inventory space makes a strong argument for donating to a local religious organisation.

–          The combat fundamentals sometimes feel like I’m a humble metal ball, bumping around in a big pinball machine full of fire and death. It looks very impressive, but a lot of combat skill is removed by weird blow-back from attacks that seems to arbitrarily alter your proximity to whatever it is you’re trying to hit.

01

–          I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out what the visual style reminds me of, and I think I’ve finally got it – LEGO. There’s a sort-of ‘blockiness’ to the character design that reminds me of the LEGO representations of stuff in the LEGO games. Given that so much of the game can be literally built from the ground up out of basic components, I’d say that’s pretty apt. Well done on accidentally (intentionally?) doing that.

–          You’re all incredibly irresponsible. You’ve gone ahead and made the most comprehensively fully-featured level editor that I think I’ve ever seen which has taken up 14 of the 15 hours I have on record playing your game. It cannot be legal to make a level editor this good. There must be some kind of legislation in place that at least demands you make it less intuitive. It’s too easy and pleasant to make a professional-looking level in a very short period of time. What’s even more amazing is that there are absolutely no tutorials for how to use the thing, but thanks to how easy it is to pick up, I’d got it all figured out within about an hour, while using an Xbox360 controller. I was designing levels with a controller in a system I’ve never used before, and making stuff that was actually fun for me to play. This is some kind of arcane black magic wizardry and I demand you turn over your ethereal secrets for the greater good of humanity. Might possibly be tied to the philosophical point you made with the Loot Shrine, perhaps. Divine intervention.

04

–          You’ve managed to make this article incredibly difficult to write, because every time I’ve sat down to put words to paper, you’ve released an update, so I’ve had to go back into the game for another couple of hours to make sure I’m reporting the most up-to-date information. This goes back to my point about your irresponsibility. How DARE you update  your Early Access game on a regular schedule?! Carry on with that, and snarky game critic people like me won’t be able to take easy pot-shots at the Early Access system anymore. Think of the blog traffic, won’t you?

–          Despite this, I’m still not happy with the presence of ‘placeholders’, because I feel taunted. I understand the need to roughly space out where future features will go, but having an entire class unplayable on the character creation screen because you haven’t finished making it yet is just sort-of cruel, really. Consider just leaving rather large blank spaces, or maybe a square of text with ‘please do not feel offended that the thing we want to put here isn’t done yet’ written in it.

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All in all, I’m pleasantly surprised by an Early Access offering that has enough content to probably warrant a purchase. Although I’m still not entirely sold on the concept of ‘Early Access’ as a whole, I think your frequent updates and sizeable current content are a step in the right direction. Please do consider the aforementioned changes (because I know these things) and, if you really want, I am available to make official levels for the final product, for a modest fee. I can promise, at least, they won’t have any PewDiePie references.

Thank you,

Zed


Fight the Dragon is available on Steam Early Access for £10.99

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About Zed

Game designer, developer, writer, person who runs SkipCutscene.net
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