Dragalia Lost’s story plays out through chapters, through a mix of story-only chapters that don’t cost any stamina, and battles and exploration-based ones with a field that usually include a boss battle or time limit. Story chapters play out in a visual novel style, while field stages are where gameplay elements come in, with your party placed into a field that you can more through by sliding your finger around the touchscreen to move in a direction. Treasure and monsters are also placed on the field and you can tap the screen to do a basic attack, along with utilising special abilities and the inclusion of these mean the mini maze like areas were more than just empty fields leading to the next boss battle.
While some effort was put into keeping the fields engaging, I found bosses to be the most interesting part of the battle experience thanks to bosses getting progressively harder as chapters progressed and requiring me to think about when to use special abilities more carefully. The first two chapters didn’t provide much of a challenge since I could usually get enough attacks in to beat down the boss, with the occasional use of a special attack here and there. From chapter three onwards however, bosses started to become more powerful and aggressive, with them using more of the battlefield and doing directional attacks keeping me more engaged in running around to dodge attacks as necessary while trying to get a hit in. This element of challenge also encouraged me to use my equipped Dragons, which see the party leader shapeshift into a dragon that can do bigger and more powerful attacks and protect the leader from HP damage while looking really cool, so I’m glad these middle chapters have given me a reason to finally use them. I love smartphone JRPGs that have fields and active battles in general as it feels more engaging and with areas to run around in and fun boss battles, playing its battles is something I enjoy doing and since they don’t take too long, they’re a nice burst of quick active battle and strategy on the go.
To take on Dragalia Lost’s challenges, whether you have great units or the standard story ones, your unit and team can be developed through Dragalia Lost’s many character upgrade systems. It starts off with simply leveling up in battle, then crystals are introduced that can be given to level up further, then Mana Circles come in that allow you to unlock stat buffs and abilities in a skill tree, then weapon upgrades, crafting and more systems for character building come in to make it a pretty deep process, with dragons and the royal castle also having their own leveling up systems as well. These systems work together to raise your party’s Might, an overall party stat that helps determine if you’re strong enough to take on a certain stage, and in spite of the sheer amount of mechanics they were all simple enough to use, especially since most of them have an auto button that gives the optimal boost options for those in a hurry. On top of there being so many of these, they weren’t all there at the start which stopped me from getting overwhelmed by mechanics as some smartphone games do, so I liked how the gradual rate they unlocked that made me feel like I always had something new to play with without giving me too much at once. Even the morning I started writing this I opened up the game to check some stuff, got sucked into a story round and unlocked yet another system that can help me farm materials and since I’m at chapter 4, I wonder if there are any other systems waiting for me later and whether I find more or not, I’m very satisfied with the depth these systems all work together to help me develop my characters well.
To test out how much of a benefit getting a just a little premium currency, I did buy $5 worth to see if it was something I’d ever use and concluded I’ll probably just keep playing for free. $5 worth of currency worked out to be 300 Diamondite, which pretty much serves the same purpose as the free currency Wyrmite and is only enough for a couple of single summons rather than a 10, so I’ve just been using it on the Daily Discounted Summon and for very occasionally speeding up castle development that relies on a timer, but I feel I’m mostly just using it because I have it since I haven’t run out of stamina yet naturally thanks to leveling up refreshing it and still have plenty of stamina refreshing items in my inventory if I do. Unless you plan to binge the game over a few days, you can probably find enough currency for a Tenfold Summon or so through other means or upgrade the units you already have to probably do a majority of the game without issue and while I’d like more characters just to see their story moments, I still have so much to do with the units I already have that I’m satisfied with playing for free and since I play smartphone games more casually than I do console ones, I think I’ll be satisfied for a while with all the Dragalia Lost gives for free.
With multiple chapters to keep players busy with in its many stages, development systems and the limited time events that keep things fresh, you’d think there’s already enough to keep players busy in this free smartphone experience. In my opinion, there’s already plenty to do in the core campaign but Dragalia Lost kindly also provides a bunch of lore in the form of mini-comics and extra events, with plenty of extra story moments being available for the core characters alone. There’s the cute and funny Dragalia Life comic that gives short, fun moments with a wide-range of characters that I enjoy reading thanks to how quick and funny they are, and then there are also individual story episodes that are unlocked depending on who is in your party and how many story episodes you’ve unlocked in Mana Circles, with each offering free currency just for giving them a read. I have about 25 units at the moment and have more of these side story moments than I can get through in the small moments I play in and I love the effort that’s been put into fleshing out all of its core and optional units in such a deep way that made winning different units in the gacha system much more meaningful than just adding a new unit to my collection. If you enjoy the light-hearted humour that Dragalia Lost’s characters have in the story, these moments both expand the world and have more of them and knowing there are so many makes me excited for a free moment where I can binge these and get to know its characters more in the fun, generous extra story moments the game has provided.
smartphone game that’s excited me like Dragalia Lost has for a while, but its deep systems and story that gives plenty of reasons to come back to it make it my newest go to smartphone JRPG. Its core story full of dragons, interesting plot and amusing characters makes playing its story go well beyond being a just premise for the next battle like other smartphone games and the cool character designs along with their side stories to get to know them added a ton of value to one’s I won in the gacha regardless of their rating. All in all, Dragalia Lost’s generous world building story has given me more reasons than I needed to play and with fun gameplay on top a great amount of content, I look forward to spending more time with it and seeing how it progresses as a smartphone experience and new IP.
You can download Dragalia Lost for iOS here and for Android here!
Have you played Dragalia Lost? What did you think of it?
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