Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Raise a Dragon

How to Raise a Dragon was already a movie, last I checked, and the creator of this Flash game admits as such - but I somehow doubt that as much thought goes into the topic in that flick as does in the game of almost the same name.


How to Raise a Dragon is a somewhat misleading title, because despite what it implies, the dragon - which is you, fair enough - raises itself for most of the game. The plot more or less covers the entire life cycle of a dragon, going from this:

To, uh, this:

Moving from egg to adult you grow gradually larger and larger, interacting with your surrounding world in ways that will affect your future. If you want to be a cruel dragon, for example, you'll want to eat humans and burn down their houses. Wanna be nice instead? Leave them alone - or perhaps even heal them, assuming you develop the proper breath for healing (completed during the second stage of the game).

What's neat about How to Raise a Dragon is that your actions can sometimes have unforeseen consequences. If you develop breath that can heal people, you will be able to treat the wounded - but you may accidentally cause zombies to rise from the dead, forever giving yourself a bad name. Think carefully before you do anything. (Or, y'know, play the game over again. That option becomes more and more viable with each play through, as you can skip life stages once you've beaten the game.)


How to Raise a Dragon is an artsy game, and consequently you don't need to worry much about the controls. It's a pretty standard setup anyway, with Z, X and C all employing various uses throughout the game while the arrow keys guide your dragon around. I found the three letters easy to confuse while playing, but, again, that won't much matter unless you absolutely want to avoid a particular ending. (In short, if you wanna avoid accidentally jumping on humans, hold the jump key to glide, or hit it again to double jump. Or both.) No big complaints.


Because art games have a message above and beyond the norm, I usually give 'em a break on graphics. That said, How to Raise a Dragon is just a bit TOO simple, and though it's easy to tell what everything is I could stand for a modicum of shading on some of the backgrounds. I wouldn't mind more animation on the humans, as well, since they kinda... float across the landscape... and they're not small enough to warrant ignoring animations. No huge problems, however, and I did like the little homey details of the second stage of life.


How to Raise a Dragon is not a musical game. There are occasional woodwind flourishes, but for the most part raising your reptile is a quiet affair. What is there isn't bad, but some more sound effects to convey a sense of dread - or at least weight - to your huge-ass dragon would be nice.

Challenge Rating

There ISN'T any challenge to How to Raise a Dragon, really, since there's no set end - your dragon will each full size no matter what, and though there is one tiiiiny potential battle at the end, it's, ah, not exactly difficult.

In short, if you want a difficult experience, this game isn't one to play. If you want something that provides neat information about dragons, however - and one with many potential endings - then you've got a worthy title in How to Raise a Dragon.


Despite a few minor shortcomings, How to Raise a Dragon is pretty neat. It's not preachy or judgmental like a lot of art games, and unlike a TON of Flash titles, it's well-written. So long as you're not looking for a traditional experience - think of this more as an interactive documentary - you should have fun raising a scaly friend or two.


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