Size: 3.2 GB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
From the start of Nintendo’s brief mobile gaming reign, the console giant has played things safe by leaning on its formidable roster of characters.
Dragalia Lost is something of a big deal, then, for being the first Nintendo mobile original. There’s no Mario or Animal Crossing branding to give this game a leg up.
Thankfully, Dragalia Lost doesn’t appear to need one. This is a slick, playable casual RPG that more or less anyone can enjoy. In fact, just about the only thing that might spoil your enjoyment is a familiar sense of free-to-play bloat.
The core action is pleasingly direct, though. You set out in direct control of a spiky-haired warrior, dragging on the screen to move, tapping to swing your sword, and swiping to dodge incoming attacks. You’ll also gain a charge-and-flick maneuver that can break through the defenses of shielded enemies.
Once per level you’ll find yourself able to morph into a stomping dragon for a brief spell, which comes in handy for laying waste to the big bad that stands guard at the end.
The game’s bite-sized battles with gangs of fantastical goons are delightfully kinetic affairs. You’re ably assisted by a team of AI-controlled buddies from an ever-expanding roster, each with their own unique weapon and attack types. One of these teammates tends to be drawn from the profile of a random real-life Dragalia Lost player, whom you can befriend at the end of the round.
Accompanying all of this is a classic fantasy storyline filled with the usual mystical gems, amnesiac heroes, plucky fairy sidekicks, and ancient threats. It can be skimmed over or directly engaged with according to your tolerance for such things, but you might be surprised how deep the lore goes.
It’s well-produced stuff, too, with brief game engine-powered cutscenes interspersed with beautifully drawn artwork and plenty of peppy (if by-the-book) dialog.
Beyond fighting and following the story, you’ll need to spend the game’s various currencies on leveling up your heroes in a variety of needlessly convoluted ways. You can also build up your castle HQ to produce additional rewards.
These latter systems will all be very familiar to you if you’ve played any number of casual free-to-play games in recent years, but they can come across as tiresomely esoteric to the uninitiated.
Nintendo and Cygames really haven’t sought to reinvent the mobile RPG wheel with Dragalia Lost. They’ve just ensured that theirs rolls along better than most of the others – though a few free-to-play stones have been left in the way.