Anybody else remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure books? I used to love those as a kid, spending hours agonizing over what path will lead to the “best” ending. Sometimes I just met a lot of gruesome ends, but that was still pretty awesome. Choice of the Dragon is a lot like those, packing a lot of fun into a very small game. You have to like reading, but if you do, you’ll be richly rewarded.
Almost entirely text-based and created by one guy, this nifty little piece of interactive fiction isn’t much to look at, but it sure is fun. You are a dragon, and it is the choices you make along the way that determines just how mighty you actually are. In the beginning, you choose all the details: gender, looks, personality, and once you get started, you dictate all of the decisions in your quest to amass power, hoard gold, and kidnap princesses. Or maybe you think the tradition of kidnapping princesses is sexist. Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered.
Because it’s text-based, this is the kind of project that lives or dies based on the quality of its writing, and Choice of the Dragon doesn’t disappoint. The general tone is dry, snarky, and very, very witty. Plus, there’s plenty of variety in the different story lines, so it stays interesting as you play through again and again. When you come to a choice, you’re presented with a few options, most of them leading to very different outcomes. You can’t go back and redo a decision if you don’t like it, but the game is short enough that you can run through multiple times pretty quickly.
One of the things I really liked was the use of stats. Rather than just telling a story, Choice of the Dragon is, in fact, a game. It lets you actively build up your attributes, and it uses them to dictate whether or not you succeed in various challenges, so the same encounter can play out very differently depending on whether you’ve built up your strength or your cunning.
Half “Choose Your Own” and half text adventure, Choice of the Dragon isn’t really a long enough game to immerse yourself in, but it’s still a nice snack-sized piece of work, and for the price, you really can’t get much better.
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