Here Be Dragons: Review

Here Be Dragons is a satirical turn based strategy game developed and published by Red Zero Games.

Origin of the title

The phrase “Here Be Dragons” refers to the ancient practice of depicting dragons, sea monsters and other such mythical creatures on maps and globes.

for Cats and Dogs

Although the phrase itself is an anachronism and was not actually used (except for two historical references).

Story

Here Be Dragons, is an alternate history of Christopher Columbus’s founding of America.

The game posits a world in which Columbus dreamed of becoming a pirate and the so called New World was discovered while eradicating fish monsters.

It’s an absurd idea, one that the creators really embraced, and it comes across as not only an enjoyable game premise, but also in a way poking fun at conspiracy theorists.

Gameplay

Here Be Dragon’s is deceptively simple at first glance. Running through the tutorial levels you quickly learn the ropes, and realise just how complex it all is. Turns are split into three segments, the dice roll, the attack phase and the action phase.

The dice roll, force a cherub to spit out dice, each combatant is then assigned a dice by choice. Number 1 will heal the unit that selects it. Number 6 will increase the power of the unit that selects it for one turn. All other numbers are standard and can be selected to buff attack, defense or ready an action command if they are within the limits.

Attack phase, or Salvo phase, this is where your units launch an attack. The damage is calculated by your attack minus their defense (can result in 0 damage). You can also have multiple units target a single unit to maximise the damage output.

The third phase, which ends the turn is the Action Phase. Actions are special moves that either heal a friendly unit, or damage an enemy one. Where actions differ to salvo’s are that you need to assign dice to them to use them. If you don’t have a matching dice, the action requires more than one or you use the dice on something else, the action phase will be skipped. Damage actions also differ from salvo’s in that they generally don’t take defense into account when calculating damage.

There is also an Initiative system, in which the phase order is determined each round. Whoever uses the lower numbers gets to go first, so sometimes it’s better to take a 2 over a 4.

Graphics

Here Be Dragons is a perfect example of how style and theme should be used. While not technically impressive, or realistic for that matter. Here Be Dragons is a fantastic looking game. All designs are based on maps, you can even see part of a wooden ship underneath. The effect on the paper makes it look convincingly map like.

The characters are very cartoony, reminiscent of games like Don’t Starve, especially when they move. A lot of the movement is growing, shrinking and flipping around. This works particularly well with the aesthetic style chosen.

Sound

Music and sound effects, both are perfectly in theme. A lot of nautical bells, cannon fire, the sound of the ocean and seagulls. The music is very reserved for the most part, a lot of almost haunting female voices, like a siren luring you to your death. The music doesn’t play during the battles though, just the sounds of the sea and the gulls, which become somewhat immersive as you plan your next move.

Conclusion

Here Be Dragons, is an assured first entry from Red Zero Games. Although it is in Early Access, it already feels more complete and polished than a lot of other titles. The battle system takes a little while to get used to, especially the initiative counter. But the tutorial does a great job slowly introducing everything to you. Over all, a fine entry for those that enjoy a strategic adventure.

Pros

  • Great art style.
  • Fitting music and sound effects.
  • Interesting battle system.
  • Variety in enemies.
  • Very funny writing.
  • Multiple Monty Python references.
  • Battle length feels balanced.
  • Feels like the developers vision.

Cons

  • Unable to replay won battles.
  • Unable to replay fun dialogue.

Rating: 8/10 – Quite a fun and well made game, for fans of turn based strategy.

Title: Here Be Dragons
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Red Zero Games.
Publisher: Red Zero Games.
Release Date: 16 Aug, 2019

Review key was provided by Red Zero Games.

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