Dragon Age: Legends is Bioware’s version of a Facebook game that they like to call ‘the first real Facebook game. After playing it, I can’t verify their claims, but I was impressed with the game. DA Legends is a turn based RPG mixed with a meta-game of building up a castle that allows you to craft items you desperate need on your journey to become legendary. DA:L features a strategic battle system, a robust castle/craft system, and a sprinkle of cash shop, making this a very solid game.
Upon starting the game you are prompted to create a character. You can create a rogue, warrior, and mage as well as a choice between male and female. They give you a few face shapes and good helping of skin and hair color. After creating my savvy female rogue I went through a quick tutorial that shows you the inner working of the game how the game works. From walking you through combat by providing tips on digesting the information on the UI, how to attack, use skills and tips on using various items, and explaining how to build your castle. It also sets you up with an apothecary and a worker to make your items. Outside your castle you are greeted with a simple painted map with direction lines that leads your character along a path to various points that, when reached, you either have to fight or pick up a reward.
In the encounters you are greeted with multiple waves of enemies each with their own weakness and strong points. Following RPG traditions you’ll want to keep in mind what mobs are weak too and which poise the most risk to your party. It’s very important to develop a strategy because you have a set number of items that you can use in a fight. You have the ability to set items on your skill bars when you fight. Five slots for defensive items and 5 slots for offensive items. You can’t set the same item on different slots so whatever items you do slot you only get to use them five times in a encounter no matter how many you have in your inventory. So as you start out start out you will have 5 health potions and 5 mana potions to use throughout the fight. Nothing worse than fighting spiders that poison you’re team grinding away their health each turn that passes because you didn’t take them out first or CC them down until you could properly take care of them. Once you use up five of your items, that’s it! Don’t be surprised to find yourself plowing through them and having 2 waves of monsters to fight. You could find yourself on the losing end. Not only do you lose but you have to do the encounter from the beginning and all the items you used before hand are gone forever. You may have to retreat back in the castle and wait it out while your workers craft more potions for you.
Being a Facebook game you have to ask the question: how does DA:L bring you back and how do they make money? Being designed from the ground up to be played in chunks. As you travel on the map, each encounter you come across costs energy. Once you run out you have to wait for it to replenish, which takes about 90 minutes. Other restrictions that encourage chunk gaming are party members and items. When you call on your allies in battle there is a recast timer before you can use them again in another encounter. Also to note if you get them killed during the encounter the recast time is significantly longer. So even if you have the energy you can’t get too far if you don’t have any allies to call.
Combat is also very item heavy. Since in most encounters you are dealing with multiple waves of monsters, you need items to replenish your health, refill your mana, and increase your stats. The items can be made in your castle but you have wait for your worker to create them. All of this can be remedied by putting some greenbacks into the game. You can purchase potions and items from the cash shop that will surpass these limitations.
Also the game encourages you on many occasions to get your friends to play. By inviting your friends you get to use their characters in your playthrough. Since you start out with 2 premade characters of each class when you start the game, having friends play really helps out since you start off with more energy than you can use due to lack of allies. When you use your friend in combat, or vice versa, and you or they survive the encounter you are rewarded with a small sum of gold. So if you are the internet man on Facebook you can get healthy amount of good if you can get some friends to play every now and again.
The cash shop is designed for players who have less time or want to invest more into the game. It has its own currency called crowns which you can purchase for real life money or Facebook credits. They come in three prices: five dollars for 200 crowns, twenty dollars for 900 crowns, and biggie 100 dollars for 6000 crowns. Then with the crowns you go straight into upgrading your castle. Crowns are used to add crafting benches in your workstations or you can convert you crowns into gold to purchase additional buildings to go into your castle, or upgrade existing ones by increasing their production rate or unlocking addition items to be crafted.
Looking at the cash shop itself, the items available are very helpful with your playthrough, though they feel that they are border lining on giving too much power. There are various potions you can buy for small amounts of crowns should you find yourself in need of them. You also purchase experience and productivity potions that increase your gain of experience points you earn in battles and increase the productivity of your castle for a good chunk of time. You can also purchase various weapons, armors and accessories if you feel the need to upgrade. The prices are modest and just. By investing five dollars in the game you can go a bit of a ways if you are focused on just buying the occasional potions every now and again. As far as weapons, armor, and accessory items, the shop kind of wants you to invest in the 20 dollar pack since the cheapest items cost around the 200 crown mark and go up from there to 600 crowns.
As far as how much pull the cash shop has on the game, I’ve been playing for quite a while now without putting any money into the cash shop at all. I have progressed up to level thirteen relatively smoothly without feeling urge to ‘pay to win’. The game starts you out showing you the ropes and the quests rewards are pretty generous. I was able to build up my castle with workers, add in the various workshops, and level them up.
Even though the cash shops offers items that will help you in all aspects of the game, I truly feel that it isn’t necessary to have to invest to progress. What the cash shop does help you with is the time factor. Like I stated before you can buy stamina potions if you don’t want to wait for it to replenish on its own, purchase calling horns to call your allies to battle without waiting for the recast time to be able to use them, and so on and so forth. The weapons and armor in the cash shop are on par with what you can earn in the game with the exception of the higher price stuff but you certainly don’t need it. The best gear is in the shop, though. I feel their shop is designed pretty well. They don’t oversell you to buy anything, but it is there if you want it.
I hesitate to put down 20 dollars for the upgrades I could use. That said there were plenty of times where it was enticing to put something into the game specifically. I remember at the beginning of the game where I felt almost inclined to invest in the twenty dollar package to get a good ground start of the game, because when you start off it can feel a bit slow due to low resources and only being able to do a few fights before your stuck on the recast times. Now I have a bustling castle with four workers with commodities to make them happy, along with all three workstations with a furnace nearby. I was able to achieve all of this without the cash shop and did not have break my bank to do it.
Dragon Age Legends is a really well done flash game. I can enjoy what it has to offer, and experience the subtle layers of the depth of the game. It has a pretty decent story and does turn based combat well. Offering incentives to have their friends play the game by allowing people to use other’s characters brings the friend factor in, and the chunk experience matches nicely with the quick and easy pickup of a flash game. Though I’m still on fence with the cash shop, it still offers players everything they need without hammering them through gameplay to purchase something. I wish they offered a package in the cash shop that sets in between the five dollar package and the 20 dollar package. Overall it is a enjoyable Facebook game that I would definitely recommend giving a shot.
Overall Score: 4/5