Dragonia is a top-down Shmup in where we take control of Feeney in her quest to “purify” all evil dragons that are wrecking havoc in her lands. Aided by a Witch, we are given guidance to each of the seven areas to reclaim the territories from the Evil Dragons that have made them their domain. It sounds like it has the potential to be a decent story-line though for English users the translation is unfortunately so bad that it turns into an unintentional comedy. I don’t want to knock them for it but simply reading the game’s store page is an indicator as to what to expect regarding broken and at times barely understandable English.
Normally one could care less about grammar in a Shump though in Dragonia’s case, a good chunk of the game is like a Visual Novel with tons of dialogue. These VN segments occur after you defeat an Evil dragon and free its territory in which case a “holy ritual” to “purify” him takes place. Like it says on the store page “If you are not 18 years old, Do not download the game plz,” as this title features a ton of explicit Hentai scenes, most involving rape. The genitals are censored by a frankly weird rabbit sporting a troll face or a yellow smiley face, though even then it is hardly suitable for anyone that is not an adult. It seems I keep mentioning the store page every other sentence, but there is a reason why the only artwork they show off in the pictures are of a zoom in on Feeney’s face.
With the fact that I’ve driven home the point that a Hentai game is lewd (shocking, I know) it is worth mentioning that there is a free patch to uncensor the game to its original form. Most of the naughty bits remain blurred out as it was drawn that way originally, but at least you’ve got rid of that rabbit grinning at you. The artwork is great, and there are seven unique scenes to go through which is a pretty good value for a two dollar title. There is no voice acting, only a handful of sound effects to immerse you into the static images. Well, “immerse” may be a little much. You are far more likely to be chuckling to yourself or squinting at the screen trying to make out what they are trying to say rather than any other feeling you’d expect from a Eroge.
There are also options for Japanese and Russian subtitles though understanding neither, I can’t speak for their quality. I really wasn’t expecting to be sitting here reviewing hentai when I first booted up Dragonia. This turned out to be the opposite of their other game Hell Girls (LINK) where lewd scenes were scarce. Approximately I’d say that about 60% of your time will simply be reading, 70% if you are decent at shmups. Yes, it’s finally time to talk about the actual gameplay and if it’s worth its salt for anyone not looking for a Visual Novel. The base premise is that you will be thrown into the middle of a small, arena-like map and must destroy a certain number of dragons before the boss shows his over-sized mug.
If you’ve ever played a twin-stick shooter, you’ll be right at home here and will easily slay your foes at first. There is a variety of dragons to worry about with different methods of attack. Some may form a V formation and attempt to crash right into you while others are content to sit back and fire projectiles in your direction. Defeating them will randomly cause them to drop different colored gems with a variety of effects. Purple gems will give you a temporary speed boost, green gives you life and blue will grant you extra souls. On occasion, some will drop an orange stone with a symbol on it that will grant an ally for extra firepower. For some reason, quite a few of the in-game descriptions for the gem effects are wrong, forcing you to discover what they do by yourself.
As you mow down all that stand before you, you may come across an enemy that is glowing yellow. These guys will give you either a P powerup to upgrade your shot power which ranges from 1-5 or may contain different bullet types. Some bullet types are better than others so you may find yourself occasionally avoiding them, especially considering you can choose which type to start with. The controls are tight and responsive, so you typically have complete control of the flow of battle. Later on, it gets to near bullet hell levels of intensity making receiving a few hits unavoidable.
Flying face first into a dragon’s projectile is hardly the end of the world, our character has a life bar which allows for many mistakes. The real danger in receiving damage is that our power level reduces by one making our own projectiles weaker and the range lower. This can easily lead to a downward spiral if you take repeated hits and end up back to power level 1 at which point you may as well be using a toothpick in a knife fight. We do have different skills at our disposal for these sticky situations though this is where Dragonia disappoints the most. There is no reason not to use the healing skill above any other as it not only restores a decent amount of health but also increases our power level every-time we use it. This allows us to go from power level one all the way to five extremely quickly, so you are always dishing out max damage.
If you are not using that skill the only way to increase your power level is to pray that you get a P power up and even if you do finally get one, raising a single level is hardly a game changer, and a stray bullet can put you back to square one before you know it. There are seemingly useful skills like massively increasing your fire rate or even a shield that makes you invulnerable for some time though they all pale in comparison to the starting healing skill. The most expensive skill to unlock is a shield that temporarily makes you invisible as well as move much faster though it doesn’t blink or give any indication as to when it will run out which can really screw you over. Not to mention that moving faster has the same effect as the purple gem in where it becomes a real struggle to control Feeney as she glides across the map.
Just ignore skills all together and spend the souls you earn from defeating enemies on useful stuff such as increasing your health or damage output. More so the damage output as some foes are extremely bullet spongey which I will get to in a moment. In the upgrade screen, you can also buy different Projectiles that for example allow you to shoot fire flames at once or a single sniper like shot. You can also purchase new Bullet types that can home in on the enemy, penetrate through them or explode. Mixing and matching between projectiles & bullets is quite fun. Even if you die in a level, you retain all the souls you have gathered making experimentation that much more tempting.
Each of the seven areas gets progressively more challenging, and all contain two levels each. Sadly, the difficulty increase is handled in a way I really wouldn’t call fair. They introduce huge dragons that move incredibly quickly and approach like a magnet towards you. It is not rare that they will fly in insanely fast from off screen and clip inside of you. You move far too slowly to escape them so once your few invincibility frames wear off, you take damage once again as they sit right on top of you. Their movement is super janky, and they spin around more like flying fidget spinners rather than an imposing dragon. In one situation I was using that previously mentioned skill that gives you a shield and boosts your speed to ram the giant dragon head on. And like magnets with the same pole, he flew backward maintaining an exact distance between us leaving me unable to reach him.
Okay, all of that is pretty bad, but you can still avoid him like a bullfighter which brings me to my main issue. The bloody things take an enormous amount of damage to take down. In the late game where there are tons of enemies on screen, dealing with them is even more of a pain. You may as well clear your schedule, pause the game and make yourself a cup of coffee to find the time to take one of them down if you have a low power level and don’t have the healing skill to raise it. It really messes up the fast-paced flow of the combat that occurs when any other dragon foe is against you. The sad part is that the overwhelming amount of enemies and projectiles zooming in on you from all directions is quite fun until that guy comes to ruin everyone’s time.
The music found here can vary from good to pretty bland and is what I’d definitely call a mixed bag. Sound effects are alright for the most part minus the sounds dragons make when they bite the dust which sounds like a frog croaking. Environments have minor differences between areas and are all surrounded by a black mist that causes you damage if you fly into it. Dragonia is a tricky one to target to a specific audience. On one hand, the gameplay while functional isn’t what I’d call fun and on the other, the hentai scenes have great art but are ruined by the translation. At just under two bucks it may be worth the risk to find out if you’d enjoy it though this is certainly a case of you get what you pay for.