Fun AND Social Commentary Together? Let me Introduce you to Dragon Commander!

That may seem like an oxymoron at the start of my title, but it can exist. I am doing this as a sort of response to this article by Todd Harper. I totally agree with what Todd says, and want to point out a game that achieves what, as he points out, the games industry at large thinks is impossible. So let me Introduce you to Divinity: Dragon Commander. Dragon Commander is from Larian Studios, and they make some really fun games. Nor do they take themselves too seriously. This is a company with a running gag about skeletons dying because they think too much about how they function (honest!) and uses this as a logo:

Larian Logo

“POP!” Honestly that sound effect plays.

So they seem to like to have a laugh. Dragon Commander is no different. The story is absolutely nuts. You are the Bastard Son of a Murdered King on a quest to reunite the lands using Steampunk Armies. Did I mention you were a Dragon with a Jet Pack? Well that too. It plays as a combination of Real Time Strategy and 4X elements, and some Role Playing Stuff too. You manage troops across a world map, moving them from place to place, building buildings on land you own and playing Cards to give yourself an advantage. When you meet enemy units a short battle occurs where you command units, capture building pads to build factories and what not and kill the other guys units and blow up his base. Also you can jump in as a Dragon and wreck the place, because that’s what a general who can turn into a Dragon should do. This loading screen sums it up nicely I think.

Dragon Commander

Not in game footage, but gives you the jist of it.

I’ll admit its a bit of an acquired taste, but boy is it fun! So lets get back to that social commentary stuff. As well as commanding units, you also have to deal with the politics of ruling a Kingdom, in a more in depth way than Fable 3 tried to do. After a couple of turns you will be given five advisers, representing the five races (as a Dragon, you represent Humans of course).

Five Advisors

From Left to Right: Undead – Religion, Elves – Nature, Dwarves – Family and Money, Lizards – Good of the People, Gnomes – Science and Exploding stuff

Every so often, one of the advisers will give you a proposal, and you can either approve it or deny it. You can talk to the advisers to find out their stance on the matter, and understand potential ramifications. Selecting something they don’t like will result in them not liking you as much, which can have pretty bad consequences when it comes to the battles. If a race does not like you, fighting in a region they live in will result in a lower unit cap, less possible resources and more difficult fights. It has real in game consequences, and I have found it hard to conquer he Undead regions as they hate my views.

It gets really political when you see some of the topics discussed. I had to vote on Same Sex Marriage Marriage (I voted yes), prevent the undead destroying an artists works because she was lesbian and their are hints of Gender Equality acts due to the General who used to be queen of her own Kingdom till the Dragon came along. Yet none of this detracts from the fun of the game, it actually can make it more fun. This bizarre world allows Larian to have a more light hearted approach. Of course the ultimate irony is that the game forces you to play a man and have a Hetero Sexual relationship. I’m not saying this makes it bad, just a little odd (although the relationship is forced regardless, no option to back out even if you argue, such are the trials of a Dragon king). What is perhaps a little more unfortunate is the sexualisation of much of the female cast. Fantasy games are rife with sexualised female characters, so nothing new their but I would have thought a little higher had they not fallen into that trap. I would still recommend this game, even if just to test out your political views.

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