Gameloft used to be the most prominent developer when it came to AAA-looking games on mobile devices and if you saw their logo at the start – you knew it’s going to be a fun ride.
Nowadays, it’s not as common to see games from them, so when I saw that this was their creation, I got a bit excited.
Dragon Mania Legends is a simulation game that plays similarly to games like SimCity but with an emphasis on breeding, hatching, and nurturing dragons for battle instead of building large cities.
It’s an interesting concept already seen in games like Dragon City, so how well does Gameloft adapt it? Let’s find out.
The gameplay of Dragon Mania Legends is split into two main sections.
The first section is all about playing the game like a city-building sim where you breed dinosaurs and then build suitable habitats to place them in.
The second section is where you play through the game’s mission-based story mode, in which you take your dragons to fight enemy teams.
In the middle of your land is a portal, which you can access by tapping it. This takes you inside the mission menu and you can select your best dragons before you engage in every fight. Once you win, you are usually treated to a little bit of story and a few rewards, and you can decide whether you want to fight more or not.
The fighting mechanics are turn-based and very simple.
Each dragon belongs to a certain element or a combination of them, and you have to make sure the dragon you’re attacking has an elemental weakness to exploit. The only thing besides basic attacking is a special move called ‘Dragon Fury’ that is unlocked within each match by attacking the enemy a certain number of times.
When you activate Dragon Fury – the game takes you to a blank background with only your enemies visible and you have to swipe the screen as many times as you can to hurt them.
There’s nothing else that you can do in your island's portal, and the story is not really interesting and just serves the purpose of progression and occasionally unlocking new things such as the Academy (where your dragons can learn new moves).
The game has a fun concept and the transition between the city simulation and fighting is seamless and does not come across as two separate types of gameplay at all.
The graphics of Dragon Mania Legends are gorgeous and the dragons have really cute animations, especially if you pet them or interact with them in general.
There’s a lot of flashiness in the fighting too and the special move feels very satisfying to use.
The UI is excellent and very straightforward which I appreciated because games as money-hungry as this (details later) usually have oversaturated menus.
The polish is decent but not very friendly for budget phones, as tabbing out or locking my phone meant instant death for the game. When it would resume, a ‘loading’ prompt would pop-up and it would no longer let me go back into the game no matter how long I waited – ultimately forcing me to close and restart.
The music is very generic and nothing that you would remember two minutes after you stop playing. But as usual, it does the job and is not necessarily bad. The sound effects are all there too, nothing missing or of low quality.
Now all of the activities in the game, such as building new structures, breeding, hatching, leveling up, and fighting, are very fun on paper.
However, there is a major issue in the execution of those ideas that takes away all the fun - and that is paywalls.
Anything and everything that you can do in this game is locked behind cooldowns that last ridiculous amounts of time, which can casually go from 30 minutes to 2 hours even in the early parts of your playthrough.
At first, the game gives you enough items and leeway to skip the time of these things so that you can get started, but as soon as you start enjoying the game, it’s all blocked.
Usually, games offer you a decent amount of currency and the ability to skip cooldowns if you watch ads – but that is not the case with Dragon Mania Legends. Ads only skip short periods of time and the majority of it still falls on waiting. And you cannot even constantly watch ads to skip the timers, as the game quickly forces the spending of gems for that purpose after a single watch.
You don’t get too many gems within the game despite what the developers say, and the only way to truly enjoy this game is by spending too much real-world money on it.
If this issue was not present, the game would be very fun to play because customizing your island is entertaining and the fighting isn’t bad either. But with it, I just find it impossible to enjoy the game whatsoever as it wants me to take a break every two minutes if I’m not willing to spend my savings on it.
You even run out of energy when it comes to playing the story mode, so there is truly nothing you can do to pass your time while you wait for the cooldowns.
There is a fun mobile game somewhere inside Dragon Mania Legends, but the outrageous paywalls do not allow you to get anywhere near it.
A game’s purpose should be to encourage gamers to spend more time playing it – not drive them away for hours over the smallest tasks.