Divinity: Dragon Commander Review

Paul Goodman | 5 Aug 2013 23:00
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The strategic level of gameplay in Dragon Commander doesn't fare much better, either. Constructing troops and moving them around is a straightforward process, but when it comes to actually waging war, you're limited to personally overseeing only one battle every round.Despite having four AI generals at your disposal, you can only deploy one of them per campaign turn. This means you'll be staring at the auto-resolve screen a lot if you're the aggressive type of player who likes to get into fights on multiple fronts. On one hand, this does mean that you'll have to very carefully choose when and where you'll jump into the fray and you'll also be able to skip through any fights where you have your opponent outnumbered ten to one. On the other hand, if you want the opportunity to use your dragon powers to even up impossible odds, or are the kind of strategist who would prefer to micromanage each and every engagement, you're going to feel short changed.

On the empire management side of things, the various ambassadors from the civilized races will approach you with proposals that cover topics like conscription or taxes, but there's also surprisingly modern issues you'll need to handle, like copyright law, women serving in the military, fair trade, and even gay marriage. Your decisions can affect your relations with each race or your generals, can grant you bonus cards, or adjust how much gold or how many research points you earn per turn. The whole aspect of having to make decisions on important legislation may sound boring on paper, but it's actually a very refreshing mechanic to play around with. If anything, having to decide if you accept bribe money from the Elven ambassador, or if you ban the press from saying anything bad about you makes you feel like you're actually in charge of a budding empire versus just a nameless monarch focused on conquering everything.

One particularly fascinating aspect of Dragon Commander that balances out the middling RTS elements is the interaction you have with your cabinet during the game's narrative, which by far is the most enjoyable part of the game. There's a wide variety of characters onboard your airship, each with their own unique personalities and quirks that you'll have to manage. In between campaign turns, you'll have to ensure your generals get along with each other, make political decisions that affect your entire empire, and in one case even pick a princess to marry (one of whom is an Undead princess named Ophelia, of all things). Since the story elements of Dragon Commander are much more interesting and quirky than the RTS side of things, you may actually find yourself speeding through campaign turns as quickly as possible just to see what the ambassadors cook up at their next meeting or if that team-building exercise you sent your generals on ended favorably.

Bottom Line: Divinity: Dragon Commander has a unique setting and interesting characters, but its real time and turn based strategy elements don't hold up to its narrative aspects.

Recommendation: If you're looking for a strategy title that features a heavy emphasis on character interaction and a more relaxed approach to the gameplay of the genre, Dragon Commander may be a good fit, but for those looking for something more in-depth may want to look elsewhere.

Game: Divinity: Dragon Commander
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Platform(s): PC

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