Freemium games are a dime a dozen on the App Store right now and, unfortunately, we often see overlap when it comes to themes. The goal of DragonVale is to build the most popular ‘dragon park’ you can and attract as many visitors as possible. Been done before, right? That’s what we thought, too, but DragonVale proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and a game can catch you off-guard with its whimsy and charm.
In order to build the greatest dragon park in history, you must raise and breed dragons. When you begin, you only have three types of dragons available to you: plant, fire, and earth. You can purchase dragon eggs from the market and hatch them. Once hatched, you must have a habitat to house these dragons. The dragons will attract visitors to your park, which will earn you money. The more your dragon grows, the more money he will earn you.
Meet me in the wizard hut in five minutes.
All of these purchases, of course, cost money. You can use in-game gold or purchase all-powerful gems with actual money. Gems are much more valuable and can be used to speed up an egg’s hatching time.
Once you’ve mastered the three types of dragons, you can begin to breed them together to create hybrid dragons. For instance, an earth dragon mated with a fire dragon creates a lava dragon. Once you’ve successfully bred a new type of dragon, that type will be available to you in the market.
Your park itself requires tending, too. It is actually a floating island, filled with bushes, rocks, and trees. In order to make room for habitats or refineries that make your dragons food, you must clear away the brush. The larger trees and rocks will require quite a bit more money to remove.
Here there be dragons.
All of these actions will require not only money, but also time. As is the custom with freemium games, you must have a bit of patience to play… or money. You could always purchase gems to speed up the process, but since hatching a lava dragon can take ten hours, that could be quite a lot of money. This really becomes a problem once you get deep into the game. You’ll find you can only perform a few actions before needing to wait several hours.
Thankfully, there is so much to do in the game that you rarely become bored. Your dragons require food, and with enough food, they will grow into larger, more exotic dragons. You can also upgrade your buildings to hatch more eggs at once or make more food. Finally, whenever your island becomes full of dragons and habitats, you can purchase another island and start all over again.
DragonVale hits on all the right notes, although it does require a bit of patience. You can even share your park with your friends over Facebook. Like Farmville, you can send your friends gifts and help the overall success of their parks. However, also like Farmville, DragonVale requires an Internet connection. Regardless, you’ll be surprised how often you want to check on your park to see if your eggs have hatched.