Fusion is a common theme among Japanese mobile social games. Being that GREE essentially runs that market in competition with DeNA, it's no surprise that the mechanic is at its core. What's interesting, however, is the ways in which GREE incorporates the feature in its Western games. Next in line to fuse these two worlds of game design is Knights & Dragons by IUGO and GREE.
The Vancouver-based studio, in collaboration with GREE, has created an isometric city-builder-cum-role-playing-game in which brave knights of your design go off into battle against various beasts. You see, the land has been overrun by a Dark Prince and his army of demonic warriors and monsters. And it wouldn't be a video game if it weren't up to you to stop him.
These stalwart warriors need weapons and armor, of course, which is where the fusion hook comes in. As players earn materials and coins through battle (more on that in a bit), they can craft new sets of armor for their knights. Each armor set has an elemental type assigned to it, which changes what kinds of attacks a knight dishes out in combat. As players unlock and craft new types of armor, they can choose to fuse those sets to not only create stronger gear, but gear with new types.
It's a play hook we've seen time and again in Japanese-style card battle games, but in this case it's presented in an interesting way that directly affects how players fare against monsters of varying types. For instance, if you're about to head into a volcanic dungeon filled with scalding hot skeletons and lava beasts, it would be wise to bring along knights with spirit armor and water duds. Or, you could opt to create a single super warrior with powerful armor that embodies both of those types.
Now that you're well-equipped, it's time to head into battle. Sadly, battles don't amount to much more than simply watching things pan out. Your squad of up to three knights simply march into combat one by one until they're eventually knocked out, and the next in line steps up to the plate. The one mode of interactivity here is a special attack, which becomes available after a meter fills through attacking and being attacked. When ready, simply tap it and your next move will be a flourish of flames, a torrent of tidal waters or what have you, depending upon that knight's armor type.
While players slowly rebuild their kingdom and give the surrounding dungeons what for, they can engage in mortal
kombat combat with their buddies and fellow Knights & Dragons players in the Arena. In this player versus player mode, players will go head-to-head asynchronously in battles identical to the single-player experience ... only with other players. However, if a player wins a match, they can choose to "double down" to win even more rewards in the next battle or lose it all. And if you're defeated in battle, you also have the chance to get revenge.
Knights & Dragons undoubtedly shows lots of promise for the sticky factor. We could easily see players gobbling this stuff up day in and out--linking that gotta' catch 'em all hook to a dungeon crawling, arena battling RPG will do that just fine. If only the battles were more interactive or required more strategy than simply pressing a button at the right time. At any rate, Knights & Dragons has a fine chance at fusing players' thumbs to their iPhones and iPads.
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