Hands On with Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire
D3 Publisher recently treated us to a preview of their upcoming Wii exclusive Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire. Written by award winning author Richard Knakk (DragonLance, Diablo, Age of Conan) and developed by LAND HO!, Dragon Blade gives gamers the chance to play the hero and battle enemies using a mystical sword that holds the very soul of a dragon. With each boss kill you are granted additional powers and abilities that give you the ability to defeat even greater foes. Looking at Dragon Blade I quickly assumed that it was simply another arcade-adventure with a linear delivery and nothing new. What a found however was a blessing in disguise.
Dragon Blade’s story unravels in a linear fashion Ã¢$” a tactic that usually limits the fun factor of a game. In this case however, it allows the developers to tightly focus the player on the action and removes the random wandering issues that often plague open world action games. Moving the Wiimote during combat slashes your sword the same way. Unlike other games that force you to learn complex directional combos, your attacks in Wrath of Fire are automatically chained. This really gives you the chance to fight “your way” making combat feel more flexible and less rigid. The ability to create combos on-the-fly is made more impressive when used with special abilities like the Dragon Claws. Activating this ability lets you forget about the sword and instead use two molten hands that extend beyond your own. The Wiimote and Nunchuck control their respective hand and allow you to smack the hell out of your would be foes.
Special abilities are obtained in the usual fashion; beating bosses. The boss battles are presented in 3 phases that are separated by a quick cut-scene. The cut-scene itself helps drive the encounter by offering those that opt to watch a hint at how to complete the next phase of the encounter. Success means addition special abilities which when coupled with the custom attack strings give you a large variety of attack options and keeps combat from getting stale.
Graphically Dragon Blade wasn’t stellar, but this was an early build. The developers told us that there are still numerous graphics tweaks in the works. Little things like the heat waves rising off the molten Dragon’s Claws should offer a hint at the level of detail we can expect around release time.
Although the demo was limited I think Dragon Blade bears further watching. The combat system, use of the unique Wii controls and overall presentation seemed very promising. I could see myself taking a few minutes break at work to beat some monsters with my giant molten fists. Smashing virtual idiots might just save the real ones I work with from a massive amount of pain.