I was actually pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of in-development games that feature dragons I found while doing my initial research for this blog. Over the next couple of years, we can look forward to sandbox survival games, a 2D metroidvania, a 3D action platformer, and more. Everything on this list (that has been officially announced, at least) is being developed by indie creators: small teams or even solo devs. I’m sad to see a such a dearth of triple-A titles on the horizon (but maybe they’ll announce Spyro 4 soon, right guys…?), but indie devs hopefully have us in good hands for the meantime.
Part I of this article will focus on games that are, at the time of writing, available as Early Access titles. In Part II, I’ll take a brief look at other upcoming games that have been announced or are in Kickstarter status. I hope to give a more in-depth look into all of these as they reach a fully released state.
Part I – Early Access Games
Chronicles of Galdurvale
“Guide Amelia Moonglow, a wide-eyed hunter with incredible power, as she journeys from Middleland to the floating isles of Sky World. Explore the lands of Galdurvale, utilizing her mystical power to harness the elements and decimate her foes. Adventure and excitement await!“–Chronicles of Galdurvale Steam page
Chronicles of Galdurvale is an upcoming third-person action adventure game being created by a solo dev under the name Luminous Games. The game promises dragon riding, difficult combat, puzzles, and crafting in a biome-diverse open world. Sounds like a lot coming from one person, doesn’t it? But with 15+ years of programming experience, developer Jen Huei Lee appears to be making steady progress. Development started back in 2018, and Chronicles was released into Early Access on Steam in September 2021. Things appear to have gone silent on Luminous Games’ social media pages since then, but according to a January 2022 post on their Discord channel, the dev relocated internationally after the EA launch and is back to working on the game full time. They seem to be responsive on Discord, which gives me hope that this project won’t be abandoned. The dev is still promising quarterly updates and aims for a full release sometime in 2022.
Currently, the EA demo starts from the beginning of the game’s storyline, with no access to your dragon mount. There is also a short free demo available that focuses solely on the dragonriding aspect of the game. Gameplay appears to be fairly standard third-person action adventure RPG fare, with action apparently focused on ground combat and exploration, and a smattering of environmental puzzles and sidequests. The dev claims inspirations such as the Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and Diablo. Surprisingly, despite the similarities, the Drakan series appears to have not been on their radar prior to development beginning.
I like the design they’ve gone with for their dragon, but would have liked to see a unique model instead of a purchased asset. Maybe this will change before the full release. The blue and black color scheme is a nice change from the typical reddish browns we get with many playable dragons. The dragon gameplay at the moment, however, seems a bit floaty and unsatisfying, even when compared to something like Drakan. Much like in Drakan, I have my doubts as to how much gameplay time will be spent on dragonback. I hope that dragonriding makes its way into a large portion of the final game, with weighty animations and satisfying aerial combat, but we’ll have to wait and see.
You can follow progress of the game on Luminous Games’ Twitter or Facebook.
Day of Dragons
To be honest, I debated a while on whether to put this game on this list, given its controversial history (which I won’t be delving into here as it has been covered many places). I am also coming into Day of Dragons with an outsider’s perspective, having not followed the original Kickstarter or the ensuing drama. So, before I get to talking about this game, I would just like to preface that you may want to do some research to know what to expect from this game in the future.
“Day of Dragons is an online creature survival game set in a large, beautiful, sandbox open world with multiple biomes and distinct creatures. Rule the world as one of several dragon species, or play as an elemental.“-Day of Dragons Steam Page
Day of Dragons has been in Early Access on Steam since December 2019. It appears to have been in active development since then, but only two playable species are currently available (and only one of those is a flying dragon). This is the first venture by small indie developer Beawesome Games. The game’s Steam page FAQ states that they anticipated Day of Dragons being in Early Access for at least a year after its initial launch, and since it’s been a little over two years since then, with a relatively small amount of progress made, I don’t hold high hopes for this one reaching a full release anytime soon.
You start as a hatchling and grow over time, seeking resources to keep yourself alive. Current and planned features include a clan system, nesting, and further end-game content after growing to maturation. Overall, Day of Dragons seems to lean heavy on the sandbox side, except for the potential of deeper end-game content. I fear this one will perpetually end up in the same place most open-world multiplayer games developed by small indie studios end up: devoid of content and never finished.
On the good side of things, the flight mechanics are visually some of the best I’ve seen out of any of these Early Access games. The animations and designs of the current models are very pleasing, for the most part. However, I feel the need to point out something mentioned in several Steam reviews. Many of the current and planned models bear strong resemblances to several TV/movie dragons. The Shadow Scale has a striking similarity to the Night Fury from the How to Train Your Dragon series, and the upcoming Inferno Ravager appears very similar to the Game of Thrones dragons. And these are only a couple of examples. It’s disappointing to see such a lack of creative, unique designs in one of the few modern dragon games currently available.
I want to give Beawesome Games the benefit of the doubt that they are putting their all into developing Day of Dragons, but the consensus of the dragon game community seems to be against them on this. Only time will tell, but at the current rate of development, they have a lot of work ahead of them. Day of Dragons is available in Early Access for $19.99 USD.
“Create your dragon, customize it, level it. Explore the world of Draconia and unravel its story. Draconia is an MORPG where YOU play as the dragon!”-Draconia Steam Page
The Draconia dev team describe their game as an “open-world dragon survival game with RPG elements,” and, so far, it looks pretty great. In active development since 2019, Draconia launched into Early Access on Steam in January 2022. Draconia already includes features such as character customization, hunting (with an interesting scent mechanic to find food and resources), hoard crafting, optional PvP, and more. Additional features like dens and nesting, as well as a clan system, are planned for the future.
One of the most unique aspects of Draconia is the ability to play as one of six drastically different species of dragons (or a griffon). I can’t recall any other Eastern style dragons in video game outside of the Monster Hunter franchise, but you’ll be able to be one in this world. Each dragon species has a specific element (Eastern dragons are water, the Quetzalcoatl is light, etc.) and each has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to survival and combat. Currently, only two of these dragon species (the European Dragon and Lindworm) are available to play as, but the devs share frequent updates on their social media.
Once you have selected your species and customized your dragon, you start the game as a young dragon. The main gameplay loop is centered around leveling up your dragon, which is done through quests. Your dragon grows physically larger as your level increases. You’ll also need to hunt for resources like food and water to survive. Overall, the amount of content currently seems low for the asking price of $34.99 USD, and you have the typical EA issues like floaty controls and some rough animations. But the devs are actively churning out more content, and what is there is visually the best of these Early Access titles so far. If anything, it’s great for getting screenshots of your custom-designed dragons (and I highly recommend checking out the game’s Discord channel for examples). I look forward to watching this one develop further.
Draconia is aiming for a 2022 release date. Check out the game’s website for links to all their social media profiles.
My biggest concern after digging into these titles is that these are all fairly large-scale, ambitious projects for first time indie developers to take on. Are Day of Dragons and Draconia going to give us more interesting content than just a dragon-sized sandbox to play in? Honestly, I’m content to have that as a minimum for a modern-day dragon game, but I can’t help but to hope for more from a studio with more time and resources. But I’m still very excited to see what kind of state these games end up in when they fully release.