DragonVale Review - Casually Clicking to Dragony Goodness
DragonVale in many ways is Game Dev Story meets Chocobo Breeding meets Tiny Tower, which frankly puts the game in pretty good conceptual company. The end result is a unique game with its own character. Your goal is to create a Dragon Zoo. Sounds easy enough, and the basics are. You have three primary resources: Dragon Cash, Gems and Food. You spend the game's gem currency to speed up actions and you can buy that currency for Cold Hard Cash. I have another article which covers getting gems in DragonVale.
Getting started the opening tutorial is quite good. It gives you the rundown of Dragon habitats, how to buy eggs, how to feed your dragons and the basics of breeding dragons. You can spend the in-game currency to buy habitats, decorations to make your park more appealing, new islands and more.
Zoo Building as a Game
Building your zoo is the overarching task. Your zoo makes money by visitors viewing your dragons. More visitors come when your Zoo has been improved. Improvements are decorations, more dragons, older dragons, and more unique dragons. As you might expect all of these things are purchased with Dragon Cash, Gems and Food or some combination of those things.
The basic underlying game is this:
- Higher level dragons make more money when visitors view them
- More unique dragons make more money when visitors view them
- More islands and better decorations attract more people
- More people in your park and viewing your dragons makes them accumulate their viewing price more quickly
- More dragons means more to view which means more habitats making money
You can use gems to speed all of the building, breeding, and hatching activities up. There are tricks to get gems in DragonVale, but breeding dragons is at the core of the game. I have a more detailed DragonVale breeding article that covers breeding.
DragonVale has a few interesting social features. You can gift other players items and you can gift them your gems. You can also visit other people's Dragon Zoos. I haven't grown my friends list as much as I would like in the week or so that I have been playing, but I can see where things are headed. Visiting a player's zoo can often give you interesting ideas for how to lay out your own park.
A Couple of Nit Picks
The breeding of dragons can be a bit non-obvious. You will wast a lot of time creating dragons you already have. Thankfully you can sell them for a solid amount of cash. Just don't burn up too many gems on experiments. Also, an internet connection is required to play. There is no way to play if your internet is not available. My gut says that this is to enforce the seasonality of the game and to keep people from using phone settings to make a January only dragon in September. It's annoying, but in this day and age I almost never am without internet.
DragonVale for Kids
DragonVale has cute graphics, has no violence and has some core strategy and resource management concepts that are good for kids. Children of all ages need to learn restraint to not constantly look to the real money side of the equation, and this may be difficult. In addition, there are concepts that very young children will have difficulty grasping so reading age is probably required unless you just want to let a young child click around and collect your cash from the exhibits or let them plant decorations. All of that makes me say that 8 and up is probably a good age for DragonVale.
Summing it all Up
Dragonvale has addictive, clicky, gameplay combined with interesting graphics, animations and a fun concept. Dragons in Dragonvale are cool! Breeding dragons in Dragonvale is even cooler! While DragonVale's basic mechanics are quite simple the game is fun to play and a solid time killer while standing in line or other activities where you have a few spare minutes.The one downside is the internet connectivity requirement which seems unnecessary but many of you just plain won't care about that because you're having fun playing the game.