Friends & Dragons is a fantasy puzzle and strategy game developed and published in 2020 by Playsome Ltd in Google PlayStore and later on Apple Store. The gameplay is simple. You have a game board where you move by squares and fight enemies. Different characters can attack in different directions (cardinal, diagonal or both) and ranges, so you can strategize how many enemies you can take out with a single move. You can move all characters in a single turn, by pushing them around with the character you decide to move. This is done in a 5 second period. This is quite fast and makes the play a lot more hectic than you would first expect, even though you do have an endless period of thinking before making your moves.
The game does what free-to-play games do well; it starts off easy and leveling up is fast, so you get rewarded constantly. There is a plethora of characters from different skills, classes, and races that you get to summon in exchange for goods you get when you do quests. The characters are ranked by star-system, and you can either just summon 1-star free summons or use your collectibles to summon 5-star heroes that have more skills. It gives you a great rush of getting rare summons and hooks you into trying to get more.
I thought that the difficulty level rise in Friends & Dragons was steep. Luckily, you can use a mercenary system from your guild. This means you can loan another guild members character for one level. If you win, the mercenary is no longer in use for the day, if you lose, you can use them again. This is especially helpful in the start of the game, where you have only three-person teams at use without the mercenaries.
The guild system is useful when starting and makes the game easier, but I would have appreciated the option of tapping out of it. The game doesn’t give you choice on this but makes you join a guild in the tutorial phase. What makes this problematic is the fact it gives you a pre-selected guild as your only option, meaning you could end up in a guild that doesn’t feel safe to you. I have yet to test how to change guilds works at this point but the game doesn’t tell a lot about it either, sadly.
My favorite part about the game are the characters and their designs. The designs are colorful and have a lot of different races and classes. The different body types and gender spread is also great, so you can custom your experience accordingly to what you want to see on the game board. The gender-binary is very present though, even though none of the characters have specified gender identities in their bios. So you can have a little bit of fun with headcanons
What I didn’t appreciate was the casual sexism of the throwaway line of “Eek, I’m wearing a dress!” by some femme presenting characters if they get hit hard enough by enemies. It made my love for the designs sour, as you could tell the try to be more inclusive was left skin deep. Even if the game doesn’t have “boob armors” and femme characters clearly have different body types, there’s still some work to do.
If you like gacha games and strategic fantasy RPGs, you might enjoy this one. In its core it is a free-to-play that wants you to spend money and makes it well known by all the notifications about different sales on collectibles and items. I can say you can get enjoyment out of it without spending any money though. It’s better to stop playing every once in a while, so you can save up energy to do more levels. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a flow state at 2 am.
Developer & Publisher: Playsome Ltd
Platform: mobile, Android and Apple
Pictures screenshot by author during gameplay
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