My Fantastic Ranch Review: My First Management Sim

My Fantastic Ranch, developed by Piece of Cake Studios and published by Nacon, is an adorably chibi-fied ranch management sim where you raise dragons and unicorns with the goal of becoming the most highly-regarded ranch in the kingdom. It’s definitely targeted more towards kids, with a fairly simple gameplay loop and not a ton of content, but more casual adult gamers can find a few hours of fun in this vibrant fantasy world. Serious dragon enthusiasts and gamers looking for a deep management sim may want to give this one a pass, however.

The game is available on all major platforms, but for the purposes of this review, I’m playing on PC.


My Fantastic Ranch boasts colorful and charming stylized visuals. The chibi, somewhat blocky character models have an almost paper-craft quality to them, giving the world a storybook feel which suits it so well. The models stand out from the pastel scenery, and overall the world feels cohesive.

The UI is pretty simple, clean, and easy to navigate. There’s not much in the way of menus or gameplay options, making it accessible to kids. There’s an in-game codex which contains gameplay tips, explanations of game icons, and some in-game achievements.

The game has two game modes to pick from: a normal mode that serves as the campaign, and a “dreamer” mode that allows free creative play. The tutorial is easy to follow and goes by quickly, and I appreciate that there’s an option to skip it in the pause menu.

There’s only a bit of voice-acting, from the fairy character who walks you through the tutorial and advises you throughout the rest of the game, and surprisingly, it isn’t grating or annoying. Kids in particular should find it cute. The rest of the sound design is fine, and the music is pretty calming, though it could use a little more variety to fill in some silent gaps.


Obviously, given the subject of this blog, I was most interested in the dragons, so I focused my ranch entirely on them and completely ignored the unicorns (I’ll let Alice over at The Mane Quest handle that someday).

Personally, I think the dragons are the cutest part of the game, but they still retain plenty of dragon-ness in both appearance and personality. I appreciate that they’re visually distinct enough from the unicorns while still being cutie-fied. Both dragons and unicorns have four elemental types, unique to each species, with the dragons being based on the traditional elements: fire, water, air, and earth. The various elemental types have different basic designs and colors. Water-types will have fin-like jaw frills, air-types have feathery wings and accents, and fire-types are a bit spikier and toothier. Earth dragons are the most visually distinct, with stockier bodies that make them look a bit like adorable baby rhinos as they lumber around. There’s also a rare design for each type that have the most unique appearances, drawing the most inspiration from their respective elements.

The dragon’s animations are particularly stand-out. They have such personality; they’ll look overjoyed to be trotting around a pasture or balancing on a circus ball, and they may stretch and yawn sleepily while curled up on the ground. They’ll hold their heads up in triumphant smugness when they hit a target, but they’ll also look dejected with droopy wings when they miss. The animations can definitely be a bit floaty at times, though. The dragons tend to slide across the ground when they turn or when they jump up the rocks in the aerobatics lesson. There’s a lot of motion with their wings, which is a great detail, but those movements don’t always match up physics-wise with the rest of the body. But, given the extremely stylized nature of the game, I don’t feel these hiccups detract much from the charm. Overall, My Fantastic Ranch is a great example of cartoony, stylized dragons done well.

Four dragons at target practice. The far one missed!


The goal in My Fantastic Ranch is to create the most famous magical creature ranch in all the land, and to impress the prince and princess of the kingdom. In the campaign mode of the game, you start off by meeting Ferilita, the fairy who advises you on ranch matters. She walks you through the tutorial, which sees you setting up a tack room, individual stalls for your critters, a barn for food, and fields for various activities like free-roaming and lessons. You’ll also hire staff to help care for your creatures by feeding them and cleaning their enclosures.

Once you’re all set up, you’ll choose a dragon or unicorn to get started with. The game definitely expects you to end up with a mix of both (more on this shortly), but I was able to easily get through the full campaign without any unicorns. But doing so does limit you slightly in some minor ways. You’ll have three creatures to pick from, and you can spend gems (the in-game currency) to re-roll your selection, which randomizes the creature type, elemental, appearance, and name. You’ll find out later that this also automatically resets at the beginning of each in-game week, if you don’t want to spend the money (though for adult players, this very quickly becomes a non-issue).

Staff, students, and dragons are all quite diverse in appearance.

After this, visitors will start pouring in to your ranch to take lessons with your creatures. You’ll start with Dressage lessons available. I don’t know much about Dressage, but I think it’s a bit more involved than this game makes out; Dressage lessons here basically involve a student riding around in circles on the back of a creature. Lessons always require you to select a staff member to teach them, a student, and a creature. All of these individuals have badges that provide certain benefits like gems or experience, and they’ll all gain additional badges through training. Pairing up these badges in lessons nets additional bonuses. And here we meet one of the few limitations of a dragon-only ranch: about half of the students that visit will have a unicorn badge, so they’ll get less rewards from doing lessons with dragons. That said, I only had an issue optimizing lesson spots at the tail end of the game, when I’d maxed out my creature slots with all dragons.

There’s four lesson types total: in addition to Dressage, we have Target Practice, Circus, and Aerobatics. These are pretty self-explanatory, and they all have their own cute animations. Staff can teach two to four students at a time for lessons, depending on the badges they have. Teaching lessons nets you gems and reputation, which is your experience towards leveling up. Your progression is soft-locked behind specific tasks, usually like teaching a certain number of a specific lesson type, or completing a tournament or festival, which you’ll unlock as you progress. Tournaments are basically higher-level versions of your lessons (and happen off-screen). Festivals involve putting on a four-act show of different lesson types to impress the prince and princess while they are visiting your ranch. They’ll ask to see specific types of creatures; they asked for a certain dragon type during my first one, and one each of a certain dragon and unicorn for the second one. Even though I didn’t enter a unicorn, I still managed to pass and reach the final experience level of the game. There’s one more festival level after that, even though the campaign has technically ended, but I’m not sure how hard that will be to pass if you can’t meet the specific requirements of the prince and princess. But, if you’re playing a mixed ranch, it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve at all.

There’s a pretty simple happiness system for your creatures, based on how hungry they are and how much energy they have. Happiness will typically drop after lessons, but with a fully-staffed ranch, they’re back to maximum happiness pretty quickly. By the end of the game, all of my dragons were walking around with near-permanent happy eyes.

Silly behavior during Dressage lessons. Note the trainer freaking out in the background for extra lols.

That’s about it for the main gameplay loop of My Fantastic Ranch. You’ll conduct lessons, let your staff automatically care for your creatures, and enter tournaments and festivals. You unlock dorms to allow students to enroll full-time in your lessons, but I’m not exactly sure what additional benefit this provides besides some extra bonuses after lessons. You also have a small assortment of aesthetic items like paths, benches, and fountains that you can place around your ranch, but again, I don’t think these actual do anything besides make it look nicer. You’ve got the option to donate unwanted creatures to the kingdom for a small amount of gems, but this became pretty pointless except to make room for new dragons. Finally, your critters are also prone to what the game calls “silly behavior” which I find nauseatingly cute. They may randomly start running around your ranch or causing a ruckus in lessons until you click on them. I think this will negatively affect lesson bonuses and festival results if it happens, but it’s super minor. Kids will get a good kick out of this, and the antics are all quite different depending on the lesson they’re happening in.


Most of my issues lie with a general lack of content, but I’ll start with some technical bugs and nitpicks. The camera controls are the first hitch I really noticed. Overall the camera isn’t the worst, but trying to pan with the mouse while zoomed all the way in sends the camera flying backwards, which made it difficult to get up-close views of my dragons until I switched to basically only using the keyboard camera controls.

You’ll get timed tasks that pop up throughout the game which net you a little extra money and experience, but they have an annoying habit of showing up right after you do something that would have fulfilled them. I gave up on those pretty quickly after I kept filling up all my lesson spots to look down and see I now had a task to start a new lesson, forcing me to wait until all the in-progress ones were done.

Overall, the game ran smoothly for me. There’s some bugs present, but nothing game-breaking or that couldn’t be fixed by re-loading from the main menu. The worst bug I encountered was that paths wouldn’t show up, even while placing them, until the game was reloaded. Nobody seems to have any sort of programming to follow any paths though, so they’re purely aesthetic, which again resulted in a feature I completely abandoned. Icons will pop up to alert you to problems, like silly behavior shenanigans or an empty feed barn, but occasionally they’d show up in the completely wrong direction on my screen, sending me on a wild goose chase across my ranch. I only saw a few other minor bugs, like visitors getting stuck on fences, or dragons in lessons getting stuck when I’d get pop-up notifications, but those were easily fixable in game. There’s some minor graphical issues: the dragon’s eye color peeks through the edges of their closed eye texture, and there’s no collision for models, resulting in everyone walking through everyone else, which I find annoying, but kids probably won’t care.

I’d love to see the observation seats in use during lesson and festivals. Why have them otherwise?

The biggest issue with My Fantastic Ranch by far is a lack of content and a general feeling of being unfinished. I reached the end of the game’s main content in about four hours. Kids will make progress more slowly, but for adult audiences, the game definitely falls short. Some of this shows through in smaller ways: even though there are benches throughout your ranch and around the bigger set pieces like lesson arenas, visitors never utilize them. The creature and human designs are diverse and very pleasant to look at, but by the time you’re maxing out your 24 slots for everything, you’re seeing a lot of repeating names and designs.

But worst of all, the game basically tells you it’s unfinished. After passing the mid-tier festival and reaching level ten, you unlock access to the third and final expansion of your ranch. But a pop-up notifies you that you’ve reached the end of the game’s content, and unless you’re going to plop down seconds of all of your lesson arenas, there’s not a lot of ways to use this new space. It feels like the game basically transitions to creative mode at this point, with no real incentive to keep working on your ranch, especially given the complete excess of money you have at this point. The devs are pretty silent on whether they’ll provide any future content updates to the game, only saying in their Discord channel that it’s up to the publisher to decide. The gameplay loop is probably enough to keep kids invested for a little while longer at this point, but there’s not much left for anyone wanting more.


My Fantastic Ranch succeeds at creating a very simplified, family-friendly ranch management game with a cute magical animal theme. I think there’s some things the devs could have done to improve the game, while keeping it appropriate for kids; but I also think there’s a lot that could be taken from this game and expanded upon for an adult audience.

There’s a few small nitpicky items that I would have liked in my playthrough, like adding some sort of progress bar to lessons so you know how much time is left. The amount of decorative items is pretty small, enough so that I think even kids would quickly get bored of the options. As far as I can tell, there’s no ability to rename your creatures, and since the pre-generated names are fairly repetitive, this would be a welcome addition. I also think some sort of day/night cycle or other time representation would be helpful. Currently the game clock is only measured in days, with a few specific events happening on a weekly basis, but because the game proceeds at full force all the time with no change in daylight, those events feel like they come out of nowhere. Having the ranch only open for maybe a certain number of hours a day, with the closed hours maybe being spent on caring more actively for your creatures, could make a more interesting experience.

While simple, I do think there’s a lot to build off of in My Fantastic Ranch. I’d like to see more involved creature breeding and raising mechanics. What might happen if you could cross dragons of different elements? Raising baby dragons could be very fun, though I think it’d be important not to fall into the trap of just the usual basic caretaking mechanics: feeding, grooming, etc. If you’re going to do that, at this point I think it needs more than just a little mini-game showing you washing off your dragon. Maybe your quality of caretaking affects their growth, through appearance or temperament? The training lessons are a good basic start, but these too could be made more interactive through mini-games.

There’s an indie game called Dragon Creek which tackles this dragon-ranching gameplay, though it’s obviously a smaller project and still falls short in many ways. But there’s at least more interactivity involved in its training lessons, and it has a simple battle system to participate in with the dragons you’ve raised. Fortunately, there’s a lot of directions you could ultimately take for a game about dragon ranching. Dragons are great candidates for competitive battles (ala the Monster Rancher series), but you could also instead focus on something more peaceful like skill- or aesthetic-based competitions. Even some sort of RPG like the original Digimon World could provide a good basis for a modern dragon raising game. It seems like most games in the animal ranching genre, whether they’re about horses or something more magical, fall into many of the same trappings of grindy, unsatisfying gameplay loops with little payoff. What do games like Viva Piñata, Bugsnax, and Slime Rancher (or heck, even the Chao garden in Sonic Adventure 2) do to create cute and charming creature raising games? Can we take some of those ideas and expand them into a dragon ranching sim that doesn’t just become a grind of hosing down your dragon and feeding them some meat? If you’re looking for a new game idea, maybe that’s something worth exploring.


At the end of the day, My Fantastic Ranch will provide several hours of enjoyment if you’re looking for something cute and relaxing, and kids will likely get even more mileage out of it. It’s definitely got a lot going for it in terms of style, even if its lacking in substance. But, it’s cute enough that even my husband was getting sucked in when he popped his head in during my playthrough. This would be a great “my first management sim” game for young audiences (I’d say ten or under; after that I think most would want something a little more meaty). There’s also some good, if really basic, bones here that could be expanded upon for a more in-depth ranching sim, should some other dev want to tackle that in the future. I picked the game up on sale for $11.99 USD, but I would hesitate to recommend it at the full price of $29.99 USD (and would outright advise against the $39.99 console price!). If you can grab it on sale, I think it’s worth spending a lazy, cozy afternoon with some adorable little magical creatures.

Century: Age of Ashes Review: High-Intensity Action with the Trappings of a Typical Free-to-Play Game

I’ll be honest, this is a difficult article to write, because I’m not the target audience for this game. I tend to bounce pretty hard off of multiplayer games, especially of the free-to-play variety. I just want to pay $40-$60 for a game that contains all of its content and not have to deal with grinding during limited-time seasons against other players who are just plain better than me.

I bring this up at the beginning so that my complaints about this game have context. This game was not made for me.

Despite this, Century: Age of Ashes is one of the dragon games I was most looking forward to trying out when I kicked off this blog. Century is a free-to-play multiplayer dragon-riding arena battle game developed by Playwing Games. I went into this one with mixed expectations (due to the aforementioned reasons) but the gameplay looked so smooth and satisfying that I just couldn’t resist. Plus, dragons!

I started out playing on the Xbox One version and switched to PC at a later time, so this review will contain a bit of both platforms.


First impressions upon booting up the Xbox One version of Century weren’t great, as the animated cutscene introducing us to the world stuttered all the way through (fortunately, this wasn’t a problem that persisted through the actual game). You’re sort of introduced to the world and background conflicts, but most of the game’s lore is given through walls of text in the game’s menus. Unfortunately, like in most modern console games, the developers don’t seem to think it’s worthwhile to make text that is easily readable on a TV from five feet away.

The game takes place over a number of PvP gamemodes, including classic deathmatches, a gold-hoarding mode (very appropriate thematically), and a sort of capture-the-flag match. In each of these modes, various powerups spawn throughout the maps, such as shields, extra boosting power, or health pickups. Spoils of War, which involves collecting as much gold as possible and returning it to your base, has extra items that spawn during the match, like a bomb to blow up the enemy team’s coffers, or a gem that grants additional points to the team holding it at the end of the match. These bonus items help to break up the standard gameplay loop, making Spoils of War more interesting and my personal favorite game mode to play.

It’s my understanding that the dev team is working on a highly-requested PvE mode to be included in a future update, which I’m very much looking forward to.


Currently, there are four playable classes in Century, each with their own unique species of dragon (technically speaking, wyverns, but we use dragons as a catch-all here, for simplicity’s sake). Three are available from the start, but the most recently added class, the Stormraiser, must be purchased. As far as I can tell, the dragons all control the same, with the only differences being aesthetics, health, and special abilities. All dragons have a basic fireball attack and a closer-range flame breath. Each class has a main ability, a passive ability, a berserk/rage mode ability, and an additional power that is selected from two options at the start of each match. The devs intend to keep adding classes in future updates, with the next due with the launch of Season 2 sometime later in October 2022. For now, here’s your options:

Bloodchaser – Marauder Class

The ultimate alpha predator, capable of smelling the scent of blood from the top of the mountains where it resides.

The Bloodchaser is dragon of choice for the Marauder class, and my personal favorite dragon design of the game. They’re the stockiest of the three free classes and just a beautiful example of a pretty classic dragon. Their thick head and large jaws definitely give off the appearance of a powerful hunter (though I lean more towards my dragons having lips as opposed to exposed teeth, which was likely the case for most dinosaurs).

Marauder’s are the tankiest class in the game, built almost entirely for killing. Their powers focus on dealing damage efficiently and slowing enemies with frost bolts, though you can go for a slightly more defensive build with the Gust ability which allows you to repel incoming fireballs. It’s an all-around good class to play, especially when starting out, since you can pretty much focus on hunting down enemies.

Ironwing – Winguard Class

It is said that seeing them in nature brings good fortune.
They rescue the brave in the darkest hours.

The Ironwing is a dragon obviously built for speed and maneuverability, with it’s smaller head, longer neck, and finned tail. It’s a bit sleeker than the Bloodchaser, with a bit less vicious nature and a lower tolerance for combat. Aesthetically speaking, this dragon falls just behind the Bloodchaser for me; overall it’s a strong design, though I feel like it’s blunter face makes it look a bit, I dunno, goblin-y? Which turns me off a bit.

That said, the Windguard became my most used class. This surprised me because it’s the game’s main support class, with abilities that heal, protect, and augment other players. The Windguard’s main ability is her Salvation Surge, which sends you careening across the map to heal and shield an ally player (I found this also incredibly useful for quick getaways). Otherwise, her Smoke Trail ability is fun and highly useful. I found this class to be the most all-around enjoyable and satisfying class to play because you can still hold your own in combat, while providing some valuable support to your teammates.

Nightsnagger – Phantom Class

A stealthy and terrifying creature.
Those whom she spares eternally fall into madness.

The Nightsnagger takes last place on my list of preferred Century dragons; I just am not a fan of bony, frail-looking, emaciated dragons. I like my dragons with a bit more meat and muscle on them. Overall its design is fine. It’s spiky and evil looking, and it does sell the concept of its class very well. It’s almost spectral in a way. Ok, maybe I do appreciate it more than I thought. But again, and I’m just noticing this as I write, why does its head also look like a goblin?

The Phantom class also ranks last for me personally, but a well-played Phantom is definitely a force to be reckoned with. It’s physically the weakest class in the game, with the lowest health, but its strengths lie in its stealth and sneakiness. The Mystic Shroud ability allows the player to go invisible for a short period (crucial for when someone is tailing you), and your first fireball from this stealth mode is more powerful. They also have the ability to drop mines to blow up unsuspecting enemies. I didn’t play the Phantom much – I struggled with using its abilities effectively – but I was taken out many times by a Phantom player.

Stonesnout – Stormraiser Class

With their burly physique, such dragon could crush an adventurer’s skull in a single blow. Don’t leave unattended.

The most recent dragon (and first class requiring purchase) added to the game, the Stonesnout is a drastically different design from the other existing dragons. It’s much thicker in the chest and neck, with a huge rhino-like horn on its snout. The number of straps around its neck definitely give it a bit of a barely-controlled beast vibe; it’s truly a fearsome opponent.

I didn’t go up against many Stormraisers, and have not purchased or played the class myself. It doesn’t seem like very much of the playerbase has either. And honestly, every time one showed up on the enemy team, I found they were quite annoying to play against, with their Chain Lightning ability that rocks your whole screen, and their Blinding Wave that does exactly what’s on the label. Playing against them isn’t so bad to be rage-inducing, but could be a bit frustrating.

The dragons in Century are beautiful well-designed in my opinion, with a diverse range of colors and appearances across all the available skins (see below for an assortment of skins I’ve earned). I only wish there was a more quality photo mode in the game so that I could admire them even better outside of menus or attempting to snag lucky screenshots during matches! The best we get is the “Overview” option when customizing your classes, but that’s limited to a dragon and rider stationary on a cliffside. I’d love to be able to turn off the HUD (if there’s an option for this, I couldn’t find it for the life of me) during free flight mode, just to enjoy admiring my hard-earned dragons.


The gameplay is where Century truly shines. This may be one of the first games I’ve played that straight up feels like you’re playing an action movie. Flight and combat is fast-paced, intense, sometimes nerve-wracking, and at times frustrating. But I legitimately had more than one occasion of jumping off the couch and yelling because I pulled out of an extremely tense moment. The way your dragon dashes around the map is viscerally satisfying and the devs were successful in making their dragons feel like huge, strong beasts with their powerful wingstrokes and whipping tails. The animations can get a bit wonky if you’re swiping quickly back and forth, but otherwise his is the most fun I’ve had in a long time when it comes to purely controlling a dragon.

The high-intensity action is unfortunately difficult to capture well in a low-res, low framerate gif.

The level design is strong; every map has a plethora of nooks and caves and ruins to dive through while in pursuit or while being pursued. And the powerups scattered around the levels encourage some degree of exploration. There’s a bit of resource management in play as well: you’ll spend a good bit of time boosting around the map at full speed, but that requires a careful balance of picking up boost powerups, or navigating to specific sections of the map to recharge your boosting abilities.

Level design is varied and interesting. Having a good knowledge of the maps will serve you well.

On the negative/nitpicky side: with all the intricate level design, I’d love the ability to stop and land, or to grab onto the sides of cliffs as a defensive/strategic measure. With the main gameplay loop being so focused on speed and agility, this could possibly open up some interesting gameplay variety. I’ve seen players try to pull something like this off anyway by hiding in a corner of a cave and hovering in place, or by flying directly into walls to cause your pursuer to do the same. I’m also starting to feel at this point that I’d like a few more maps to play on, but I think we can expect more with future updates.

As mentioned before, the dragons themselves have good visual variety, but I wish there was a bit more customization in terms in dragon/class abilities. Not so much between classes, but I wouldn’t mind some extra options when choosing your abilities, even if these were locked behind leveling up or otherwise acquiring them.

You can get new dragons in a few ways: hatching dragon eggs, or purchasing adult dragons in the Dragon Pass or in the store. You’re given three free eggs right off the bat, one for each of the free classes. After hatching them, you must complete a series of simple quests (such as achieving X number of kills and so on) to grow your dragon into adulthood. First of all, the baby dragons are adorable and I want more of them. I also felt more invested in the dragons I had “raised” than any ones I’d purchased from the shop/Dragon Pass. Now the only way to get new eggs is to grind enough silver coins to buy one of the few available on rotation in the store (or purchase them with gems, the real-money currency), and then you have to grind more to hatch and raise it, which soured the experience a bit. Overall I like the egg hatching mechanic much more than just buying dragons, but I don’t like how much of a grind it is to get an egg and then get it to adulthood.

So stinkin’ cute!

A few short notes on the differences between the Xbox One version and the PC version: it plays and looks better on PC, unsurprisingly. I’ve seen a bit of an argument within the playerbase that PC players don’t have an inherent advantage while using mouse and keyboard with the ability to change your mouse sensitivity. Having put some time in on both systems, I have to say that’s a load of BS because I was almost immediately a noticeably better player when I swapped off console. I found I could turn way faster and more easily keep enemies in sight than I could while using a controller. The Xbox One version is also disappointingly low-resolution when compared to PC. I’m not sure how this compares to current-gen consoles, but I noticed a lot of texture pop-in, and the carrier dragons in the Spoils of War gamemode were so low-poly they looked like they could belong in the PS2-era. The game is prone to crashing on both versions, moreso on Xbox, and I saw various visual bugs and glitches on both. But I never felt like it was unplayable either way, and the Xbox One version is perfectly serviceable if that’s what you have.


The Dragon Pass is Century’s solution to monetizing the game.

So I want to reiterate the point I made at the beginning of this article: I am not a good target for free-to-play games. I am not what one might call, a “whale.” I spent a whopping five US dollars on this game, just to get enough gems to unlock the Dragon Pass so that I could say I could.

Alright, I’ve mentioned it a few times, so, what is the Dragon Pass system in Century: Age of Ashes? Added along with the start of Season One, Dragon Pass appears to be the game’s take on the monetization aspect of free-to-play games. All items in the pass, which range from new dragons and dragon armor, to customization options for your rider and profile, can be purchased with stars earned from leveling up. And you can even buy a limited amount of items without putting any actual money into the game. However, the vast majority of items require you to buy the premium pass before using your earned stars.

The Dragon Pass is separated into a number of tiers, with various rewards spread across them. You can reach higher tiers by purchasing a certain number of lower tier items first, or by leveling. Somehow I missed this fact at first, so I spent all my stars on various lower-tier items I didn’t really want to try and unlock the higher ones. Eventually I realized and grinded it out until level 20, only to learn that the dragon I wanted, being the highest reward for that specific tier, required purchasing all other items on that tier. So back to grinding to get enough stars to get even more items I didn’t want, or couldn’t even use. Because, you see, some of those items are class-specific armor and weapons which might not be for the class I primarily use, and some of them are even for the class that I don’t even own (the one that requires actual money, or 20k silver coins).

It’s my understanding that you need to reach level 100 to purchase all items in the pass, including the bonus tier items.

I felt like this monetization scheme was pretty unfair at first, but my opinion did shift a bit when I picked the game up again on PC about a month later. I’d binged pretty hard for a few days when I first picked the game up and wasn’t completing any more daily and weekly quests, which ground my XP gain to a halt. But with Season One still ongoing when I returned to the game, I was able to level up enough over the course of a few days to get the second dragon I really wanted from the pass, and I still have a while to go if I want (with Season One not ending until sometime in mid-October). So, even if it’s still a bit of a grind, it seems like there’s plenty of time for most players to get at least some good rewards from the pass.

Otherwise, antsy players are welcome to spend real-world currency on gems to buy new dragons, armor, etc. in the shop. I’m in no way opposed to throwing down $60 or so, as if I’d paid for a full price game. But most dragons in the shop are $15-$25 worth of gems for a dragon, an armor set, and a weapon for your rider. I’m going to hit that $60 limit pretty quick. And I’m sure each new season is going to be bringing shiny new classes and dragons to tempt players with. Some shop options are available for purchase with silver coins, which you earn from gameplay, but those are also quite expensive and you’re much more limited in your options.

Even on sale, I feel the shop prices are too high when you already have to purchase the battle pass each season.

Overall, I find the Dragon Pass system confusing with too many layers. I like hatching eggs more than buying adult dragons, but it feels entirely too grindy under the current system. This season’s pass is also heavily weighted towards the new class; most skins and rider customization options are for the Stormraiser, leaving those of us who like other classes a bit in the dust. I feel like one of Century’s biggest issues is not being new-player friendly. There’s not enough drip-fed content to keep new players interested, and monetization aspect is a bit too confusing at first. There’s already a very small player base post launch; as of August 31st, 2022, the game had an average player count of approximately 175 on Steam, peaking at 312 for the month. Season One launched in July which brought an large influx of new players, but the player base (at least on Steam) dropped over 30% by August.

I don’t have much experience with free-to-play games, so I don’t have a great basis for comparison for Century’s monetization scheme. And I don’t know enough of the behind-the-scenes numbers to know if this game is profitable for Playwing at this point. But despite some really fun, unique, intense gameplay perfect for dragon lovers, I just don’t think new players have much incentive to stick around long, especially when the small player base results in a bunch of highly skilled users that stomp newcomers right off the bat. I can see myself picking this game back up occasionally to fulfill that high-intensity dragon dogfighting urge, but I tend to lose interest after I’ve done a lot of grinding in a short period of time. That said, it’s free, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you love high-intensity dragon gameplay. Maybe the free-to-play model will work out better for the devs in the long run, but I can’t help but be left wishing that Century: Age of Ashes was simply a polished single player experience at a good price point.

Century: Age of Ashes is currently available on PC and Xbox platforms. Playstation releases are incoming, hopefully by the launch of the next season.

Gedda Cake Demo Review – Super Sweet, Without the Tummy Ache

I talked about Gedda Cake previously on this blog, but I hadn’t been able to check out the demo yet at that time. And seeing as developer Flannel Bear Games launched their Kickstarter for Gedda Cake last week, now seems like the perfect time to give it a try. At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign is roughly 25% funded, so they have some ground to cover before the campaign closes on August 11th, 2022. I enjoyed the demo enough to back the full campaign and hope that you’ll give it a look as well.

Gedda Cake is a pixel art 2D metroidvania action-platformer. That genre is super saturated these days, but I think this game is bringing enough to the party to make it stand out. While this one is a much less traditional dragon game than I’d like to talk about on this blog, the lore and charming playable characters makes it worth a look.

Disclaimer: This will contain some light spoilers for the demo, if you care about that sort of thing.


In this game, you play as six young dragon siblings (Galacteon Draconis). Obviously, they aren’t exactly what most people picture when they think of dragons — there’s no leathery wings or razor fangs here. But those of you who prefer dragons with lots of personality over mindless beasts will find a lot to love here. So far, four of the playable characters have been revealed, and the remaining two will be shown off during the rest of the Kickstarter campaign.


Gedda’s love for food is immediately apparent.

The Galacteon Draconis of Leadership, attuned to the element of fire.

Gedda is the lazy brother and the leader. He is driven by food and just mentioning the word “cake” is enough to make him act. If it is edible, he is after it.

Gedda is the first playable dragon you meet. He’s round and red, with a belly that reminds me of Totoro, making him immediately endearing. But under his chubby exterior lies an explosive fire breath which can propel him backwards into dangerous situations in the game. He’s more of a drake than a proper dragon, with four limbs and no wings, but no less adorable. He seems to care very little about the plight of his missing siblings, only jumping to action at the mention of his lost cakes.

You regain health by eating cupcakes, and I love watching Gedda chow down.


Piccky makes a dramatic entrance.

The Galacteon Draconis of Humility, attuned to the element of water.

Piccky is the difficult sister and the fancy one of the group. She does not have patience with anyone besides Saline and is known for her snarky comments.

The other available character in the demo, Piccky, is drake adapted to life in the water. She wastes little time and energy explaining things to her brother; a lady of her stature has more important things to do. Her animations especially help show off her somewhat frilly personality, with her fancy little fan and her penchant for striking poses. Unlike Gedda’s more aggressive playstyle, Piccky fights with more precision and grace. Even if she’s a bit on the prissy side, she holds her own in combat.

Timing her attacks well results in extra damage.


Grabbu’s design is drastically different than the first two playable characters.

The Galacteon Draconis of Stability, attuned to the element of earth.

Grabbu is short-tempered, reckless, and is not known for using his brain often. He is all about punching first, and punching even more later.

Having not had the chance to play as Grabbu yet, all I can comment on is his design. He is more of a lindwurm, with a snake-like body and two forelimbs. I also like how he almost a bit Viking-inspired, judging by his horns and fluffy shoulders, and his apparent love of a good glass of (root?) beer. Everything you need to know about his personality can be summed up by this clip:


The ‘rocks-for-brains’ earth type is a bit of a played out stereotype, but at least the devs seem to be leaning hard into it and making it fun.


Look at the fluffy curly tail!!

The Galacteon Draconis of Serenity, attuned to the element of ice.

Catchoo is easily stressed, anxious and scared of almost anything. All she wants is to stay in her comfort zone. She is beloved by all her siblings.

Catchoo, the fourth playable dragon, was just revealed and she is the most adorable of them all! She’s a little fur-covered dragon, with horns like a Bantha and a cozy little ruff around her neck. And she has the cutest name. Much like myself, Catchoo loves tea, a good blanket, and comfort foods. And unlike her siblings, she is not made for hand-to-hand combat, preferring to attack enemies with ice magic from afar. Her playstyle is drastically different than anything we’ve seen so far, so I’m excited to see how that impacts combat in the full game.

Catchoo’s playstyle focuses on ranged attacks.

The Sacaritis

A few Sacariti NPCs you will meet throughout the game.

Sacaritis are another race of small, salamander-like creatures that serve as caretakers for the dragons and the world of Sugria. Each playable dragon has a Sacariti companion, who have distinct personalities that play off of their respective dragons. Sinder, bottom left above, keeps Gedda moving in the right direction, while Saline, bottom right above, is a more polite bridge between Piccky and the other characters. Sacaritis take up residence in the game’s main city of Salamandria, which will be slowly rebuilt as you rescue them around the world.


The game is set on the sugar-coated lands of Sugria, with at least 10 sweet-themed areas ranging from a chocolate jungle, a syrup cave, and an ocean of flan. In this universe, sugar is the most powerful source of energy from which all life ultimately formed. The Galacteon Draconis — children of the origin dragon — have lived and grown on Sugria for eons, until the other races grow tired of serving them. With most of the dragon siblings imprisoned and The Cakes (their food and energy source) hidden away, it’s up to the last sibling, Gedda, to rescue his brothers and sisters and get the cake.

While I have some questions regarding the morality of playing somewhat deified dragons to fight off other races that are in revolt, the story has just the right amount of cheek and charm without feeling cheesy. The worldbuilding is well thought out while at the same time leaving enough for the player to fill in with their own imagination. All of the characters seen so far have distinct and interesting personalities. I want to give special props to the writing and dialogue; plenty of indie games try too hard to be witty with drawn-out, quippy dialogue that just ends up somewhat grating. Gedda Cake, however, strikes a wonderful balance of being charming without wasting the players’ time. And as a bonus, each individual character has their own adorable dialogue noises.

The underwater sections have cute glowing lollipops in the background.

Graphically, the game’s pixel art style is, for the most part, gorgeous and cohesive. The world is vibrant, with hints of sugary sweets like lollipops and strawberries scattered through the background. Characters have absolutely adorable designs and animations, like Gedda’s round little belly that jiggles when he walks. Fighting animations are dynamic; it feels like there’s a lot of weight and action behind the movements. But I’m not a fan of Piccky’s running animation. The way her tails curls under makes it look like she’s propelling herself along the ground with it. (Update 8/29/2022: The devs have let me know they’ve updated Piccky’s run animation based on this feedback, and it looks a lot better!) Overall, the game is a joy to look at, full of bright colors without being garish, and things like enemy elemental type and race are easily readable.

Piccky’s running animation just looks a bit off.

Some enemies, in particular these plants that shoot rocks at the player, blend in with the background too much and are difficult to see. I couldn’t count the number of times I ran right up on one without realizing it was there. There’s also some slight readability issues where some things like doors and log platforms look like background objects, but you do learn to spot and understand them quickly.

My last graphical complaint pertains to the game world: on a planet made entirely of sugar, with syrup mines and chocolate jungles, I would like to see the aesthetics lean more in the direction. We get some of that already, especially with the cupcakes you eat to restore health, the power pickups being cakes, and sugar cubes being the currency of the world. But I think the devs could push that further and create something even more unique. Occasional background trees could look like marshmallows or something, or we see some pink and blue cotton candy clouds. I don’t think it would even hurt to add more unnatural colors to some trees, rocks, grass, etc. Maybe future level design could provide more of this, but I don’t think it could hurt to inject more liquid sugar sweetness into these early levels.

Not making these crystal look like rock candy seems like a missed opportunity.

Gedda Cake‘s core gameplay mechanic is switching between characters, each with their own playstyles. This occurs quickly and smoothly once you get the hang of it, and by the end of the demo, swapping between the two available playable characters starts to feel very satisfying. The first two dragons are distinct enough in their mechanics that it’s generally clear when you need to switch, and the game takes advantage of both their playstyles. With six characters total in the full game, I hope the rest continue to be so distinct and useful.

Other main mechanics of the game include an elemental system and a day/night system. Each dragon is attuned to a specific element, as are Sugria’s many enemies. You need to play smart, swapping characters strategically as they are more or less effective against different elemental matchups. You’ll take double damage from a type you’re weak against, while also not being able to cause any damage yourself. Swapping characters is quick and easy enough that it blends smoothly with this elemental system, and it forces the player to not stick with only one dragon. This interplay really strengthens the core combat mechanics. The day/night system is simple enough, with the player able to fast forward time at rest points. The change is not simply a visual one, however. Tougher enemies (and sometimes even entire boss fights) show up at night.

Some enemies require you to switch characters to defeat them. Piccky can’t damage this monster when it’s covered in plant matter. Gedda can burn that off, but he then is susceptible to the creature’s water attacks.

My first playthrough of the demo was honestly a bit rough, especially at the beginning. Gedda has a playstyle that makes fighting enemies on small platforms difficult, given his tendency to thrust forward when he attacks. The earliest areas didn’t necessarily feel like they were made for him and the way he plays. Difficulty is a core part of this game anyway, but the beginning felt especially punishing. Things started to feel a lot smoother once I unlocked the second character. However, between trying out the demo and writing this article, the devs took in a lot of feedback and made some tweaks to these beginning areas. The difficultly curve felt much better to me on a second playthrough. This new version of the demo is live now, so I encourage anyone who had tried the game previously to give it a second look and see how it feels.

There are some minor polish issues, like hitboxes extending past platform boundaries which made me hit my head while jumped occasionally.

A few last points on how the game plays: one, it’s more difficult than I expected, given the cute aesthetic and theming. But that’s not a bad thing; for the most part, it felt fair, and most difficult situations could be overcome by slowing down and approaching the problem differently. There are three difficulty levels (I was playing on the normal difficulty), as well as extensive assist options for those that want or need it. The only real issue I had with difficulty in the end was that sometimes it was hard to see offscreen enemies, like the plants or the final boss, both of which fire projectiles at the player. Not being able to see where those projectiles were coming from was definitely frustrating. I also started the demo with keyboard controls which was a mistake on my part (as I play way more often with a controller), but controllers are well supported and the game felt much tighter once I swapped off of my keyboard. I had some issues with overall game polish, like Gedda hitting his head a lot while jumping, or platform hitboxes extending past corners. The level design can feel a bit claustrophobic, almost like there’s not quite enough room between floor and ceiling. The platforming overall was a weaker part of the game for me, but I don’t feel like it negatively impacted my experience in any extreme way.

Sometimes you don’t have a great idea of where projectiles are coming from. In boss fights especially, maybe some sort of directional indicator would be useful?

Finally, I do want to give special mention to the devs handling of the game so far. I’ve provided feedback about the demo on their Discord, and they are receptive and responsive. I’ve seen them already implementing suggested changes. I also appreciate that they went into the Kickstarter campaign with a fully playable demo and such well thought out lore and game mechanics. That really gave me confidence in backing their campaign (coming from someone who very rarely backs Kickstarter projects), even with the anticipated October 2025 delivery date. But hopefully that gives Flannel Bear Games plenty of time to flesh out this game and provide the polish it needs to really make it shine.

Gedda Cake is not a high-flying, fire-raining, dragon-riding kind of dragon video game. But it does have cute, lovable draconic characters packaged with a fun new spin on the metroidvania platformer. The amount of sugary sweet charm oozing from this game has me very excited for its eventual full release.

Wishlist the game or download the demo from the Gedda Cake Steam page. The Kickstarter campaign is live now thru August 11, 2022. Follow the game’s progress on Twitter, or check out their Discord to provide feedback and chat with the devs. Gedda Cake is currently slated to release in October 2025.