I must preface this by saying the combat system is both incredibly slow and surprisingly good for an indie title, and while 5+ minute long exchanges of low damage volleys between armies of centaurs quickly become tedious, the utilisation of powerful abilities can shake things up, such as combining powerful self buffs with equally potent enemy debuffs to unleash some truly devasting attacks that can turn the tide of any battle.
With a more rewarding progression system and less frequent battles, The Dragoness: Command of the Flame would be very enjoyable; unfortunately, at this time, this is not the case, and while the combat is handled well, there are equally enjoyable combat systems to be found in other games with more rewarding progression systems.
Map design is tricky to get right, and while there are far too many uninteresting and repetitive small-group encounters, the layout of each map and mechanics are very well done. With less frequent but more engaging battles, The Dragoness: Command of the Flame could easily stand toe to toe with the best the genre has to offer.
While The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is an indie game, it is a beautiful indie game with visuals that are a cut above what is commonly found in similarly priced titles, and nowhere is this more evident than the 2D artwork, which is of high quality, and shares a unified aesthetic, something that many indie games (which may be dependant on freelance artists and shop assets) lack.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame allows players to choose from a whopping 40+ unit types, ensuring great army diversity, something that would be much more impressive if players were not automatically (and unavoidably) stripped of their entire army at the end of every successful mission.
I recently finished Kings Bounty 2 ( a very mediocre game), and being able to watch as my starting units became more powerful over time felt rewarding. And when the time came to finally retire my brave squad of spearmen in the face of far more powerful foes, I could not help but feel a twinge of regret; those spearmen had been my first units and had been apart of every victory along the way up to that point, and putting them out to pasture felt wrong.
At the end of every successful mission, the player character is forcibly killed (turned into a spirit), and players are forced to choose a new build, which starts with essentially none of the powerups and skills they acquired in the previous mission.
Rogue-like games traditionally punish death, which motivates players to keep alive at all costs. Still, when death is assured at the end of every successful mission, it no longer becomes an issue of rogue-like mechanics but rather an issue of poor game design and wasting the player’s time to inflate runtime.
While many older titles lack meaningful progression, The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is not an “older title”, and there is no reason that players should be forced to start each mission with only a fraction of their army and green recruits at that.
With no way to raise unit level outside of merging units (which results in a net loss of Damage and tanking potential), players are forced to play through missions with green units, despite there being no in-0universe reason why they have left their tier 2 and 3 units behind to take out a pair of level 1 centaurs for the umpteenth time.
Perhaps playing The Total War Franchise has spoiled me, but watching my green recruits become hardened veterans feels rewarding and makes losing even a single unit feel meaningful, unlike losing a unit in The Dragoness: Command of the Flame, which often feels like nothing more than a minor inconvenience, as all unit progression will be erased at the end of each mission regardless.
While players can retain a small portion of their resources at the end of every match, which can then be used to upgrade unit stats, this is no replacement for retaining control of your army and having full control over its composition.
While cloud saves are relatively “new” as far as the entire history of gaming is concerned, after having played games that support cloud save for well over a decade, I must admit it was a bit of a rude awakening to log onto my second PC to find that my The Dragoness: Command of the Flame saves were inaccessible and that I would be forced to manually copy the saves from my other PC or maintain separate save games on each machine.
While a lack of cloud saves is not reason enough to stop playing The Dragoness: Command of the Flame, when coupled with a lack of progression and a general feeling of “wasting my time”, it’s a big part of the reason why I was able to complete even mediocre games such as Kings Bounty 2, while The Dragoness: Command of the Flame has ended up uninstalled (and hidden) in my steam library.
Only a matter of days after I reviewed Re: Legend, in which I said it was the most bug-ridden game I have ever played, we have another contender in The Dragoness: Command of the Flame, a title that has honestly crashed and required alt f4 more than any game I have played (including Re: Legend).
Fortunately, unlike the Re: Legend, The Dragoness: Command of the Flame seems only to crash when alt-tabbing, which makes it a little more predictable when it is going to occur and, therefore, a little more bearable, even if such performance issues are inexcusable.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is one of the slowest loading games I have ever seen, and that slowness seems to be unavoidable, even when playing The Dragoness: Command of the Flame from a high-speed M2 NvME drive.
For comparison, this same M2 drive can load a heavily modded Ark Survival Evolved (a game known for its exorbitantly long loading times) in 10-12 seconds, which is less time than it takes to load The Dragoness: Command of the Flame, which often takes up to 20 seconds to load battles with as few as three combatants.
While I do not believe that The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is up to anything nefarious, it is easy to see where rumours get started about games “mining for Bitcoin” when horrifically bad optimisation results in industry-leading slow load times.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is a strategy video game developed by Crazy Goat Games and published by PQube, it was released on 1 September 2022 and retails for $19.99.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame is available on the following platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame takes approximately 30 hours to complete when playing with standard difficulty/gameplay speed settings.
No game title specified.
The Dragoness: Command of the Flame has a lot of potential but fails to do anything meaningful with it; as a result, I cannot recommend it wholeheartedly, despite believing it to be one of the better Heroes of Might and Magic clones on the market.