A SIGHT UNSEEN REVIEW
Dragonfriend Zuckuss GamingPad Studios iPad
Dragonfriend is a game in which you, bold adventurer, solve mazes inhabited by monsters, and then try to befriend a world-weary dragon.
Why else would you solve mazes and fight monsters: Fame? Money? Fear of intimacy? Making friends with a dragon is the best possible thing that you or I could do in this life and it offends me that you would suggest otherwise.
If you befriend the dragon, I’m going to just assume that there’s a cinematic of the dragon in flight, and you on the ground, giving it the thumbs up. The idea of dragon-riding is offensive: you do not ride your friends. But as I haven’t won the game yet, I don’t know.
The game’s genius, and most frustrating aspect, is that you type in your own attempts to try to get the dragon to leave the labyrinth, and the dragon responds. You only have twenty seconds to type out your prompts, and the dragon will make fun of your typos. Offend the dragon, and it will eat you, but not before it sears you with its firey breath.
Here are my attempts:
“Let us fly far from this place!”
—It will just be the same as here, says the dragon.
“There’s a party tonight!”
—If they have food it probably won’t be any good.
“Want to go get burgers?”
—Can you go instead of me?
“How about we rent a movie?”
—I’ve seen them all.
You have 60 seconds to win over the dragon, and if you fail, the mazes get harder, ridiculously harder. Your time limits get shorter and shorter. I do not know exactly how you get this dragon to leave the maze, because I suck at Dragonfriend. I suck at most games, really, that’s how I ended up writing about them for a literary website.
What I do know is that there is no set way to get the dragon to hang out with you, it’s randomly generated. So there are some times when the dragon really will go get burgers, or watch a movie, and there are other times when these things do not work. And the dragon isn’t looking for specific phrases or a password, it’s looking for something else — courtesy, style, panache?
Game creator Erica Hemper has hinted that there might be a “universal” key to get the dragon to hang out, but no one’s found it yet. Browsing Twitter, I saw that someone had been able to unlock the dragon by insulting it. “Is this your room? It’s a mess. Let’s go.”
When I try it, I am toasted and then devoured by the dragon. It’s fine, I deserve it!
At its best, Dragonfriend is a metaphor for art. There is no one way that you can reach your audience, and you have to be persistent, and there’s lots of shit you have to do before you can even try to win over a dragon.
At its worst, it’s a really hard video game that is eating up my time and patience and making me more irritable around my family and friends. I’m sorry I can’t be more patient around you, I am trying to befriend a dragon, and as I have stated earlier, it is the best possible use of my time.
Evan Johnston is a written designed illustration in Twitter (@evn_johnston) and Brooklyn.
editor’s note: this post is part of our Sight Unseen series in which people review movies or other things they have NOT seen or read. Guidelines for submitting to Sight Unseen can be found here