Dragon Bros – What We Think:
Side-scrolling action games never seem to outlive their welcome. Fast-paced, visually dynamic and bizarrely addictive, given their simplicity, they have endured as a genre for decades. Dragon Bros revives the traditions of older, more challenging action side-scrollers, even dipping into bullet-hell conventions at times.
The game is still in Early Access, but it’s already in a very playable state. But is there enough content to warrant picking it up now?
Adventure on an Epic Scale
Dragon Bros, from indie dev studio Space Lizard Studio LTD, kicks off its minimal narrative with a few opening cut scene panels. A robotic army is invading the home world of a dragon and her four children. After the disappearance of their mother, the young dragon warriors set out to rescue her. Explosions and adventures ensue, as the game allows two players to take on the robot invaders.
The action of Dragon Bros is reminiscent of titles like Gunstar Heroes; play progresses from left to right as the game hurls innumerable robotic foes at our hot-breathed protagonists. The dragons have a very short range fire-breathing attack that is basically a melee strike.
Gears of Wyrm
Supplementing this is a sizable array of weaponry, ranging from a simple pulse gun to a powerful energy beam which can one-shot most enemies. Combat is speedy and for the most part enjoyable. I did encounter a couple situations where the difficulty suddenly spiked, but the game is mostly fair in its challenge.
I found it to be a shame that weapons are transient pick-ups which are expended and lost. In an age where RPG mechanics can be found in practically every genre under the sun, it would have been nice to see a level-up system and collectible weapons that could be upgraded between stages. Dragon Bros opts for a more traditional system of action-packed stages split up only by the world map, which provides access to completed levels for replay.
I believe that even a basic progression system would add considerable depth to the game; the weapons of Dragon Bros are visceral, and it would be great to be able to upgrade them between bouts.
Flight of Less-Than-Fancy
I find I’m torn by the aesthetics of Dragon Bros, because they are inconsistent and not always harmonious. The forest backgrounds of the early stages clash horribly with the mechanical platforms in the foreground, for example. This is, of course, the point, but nonetheless it doesn’t make for eye candy. Some of the later cave stages work better, and the bosses are superb.
The final boss (final at least for now; a fourth world is on the way) is particularly detailed and a pleasure to fight. The music is similarly varied; some of the boss music is excellent, whilst other tracks serve merely as adequate background fodder for the action.
Dragon Bros is a solid platform-shooter, if a tad short at the moment (the fourth world should certainly pad this out to a healthier length). While it could benefit from some RPG elements – and while it also suffers from sometimes inconsistent visuals – ultimately it succeeds as a bite-sized slice of platform gunning that should easily keep players entertained throughout its three – soon to be four – worlds.
Dragon Bros is available in Early Access on Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Dragon Bros below: