Title: Drago Noka
Developer: GeSEI Unkan
Release Date: January 12, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Life Simulation
The world is a punishing place, and in Drago Noka, this fact has never been more apparent. Giants and dragons constantly transform the earth as they roam, finding food. Monsters known as pests follow in their wake, leaving the surface inhospitable to the human population. Instead, they live upon the backs of the very dragons that made their lives harder.
Noka, an amnesiac, wakes up on the back of Grant, the Grand Tortoise, amid a solitary funeral for the previous Elder of the dragon. Nowhere else to turn to, Noka decides to stay and revitalize the decaying village for Nona, the Elder’s granddaughter and Grant’s Priestess armed with essential tools and knowledge. continuous
After the initial story dump, any other plot points are slow coming. The narrative will then revolve around getting enough villagers to recreate the town. Each villager will unlock more tools and crafting recipes to advance the town, but players will often need to explore how and where to gather the material.
This open-ended nature allows the player to explore Grant and see what to do, slowly opening more up for the player without overwhelming them. However, those without patience will soon find themselves bored as these options can take over an in-game month to fully unlock, with most of the experience gathering basic materials like stone, wood, and clay.
More specialized materials will require players to delve into the underground sections of Grant. The deeper players go down; the rarer materials start spawning more frequently. In addition, more specialized materials will need to be gained near other elemental dragons that roam around the earth alongside Grant.
Ordering Grant to move into each one’s field of influence will cause the weather to change. For instance, getting near the water dragon causes it to rain non-stop, and the ice dragon will cause snow and any bodies of water to freeze. Further, specialized flowers, fish, and other materials will start to spawn the longer you stay close to the dragon. These can be broken down into elemental forms, which can then be charged into gems and create other items to light up your town and cook meals.
Another benefit is that the local delivery person can trade with other towns on the dragon’s back, expanding the goods players can purchase. So frequently viewing the map to see what dragons are nearby to walk towards will benefit players. However, dragons are not the only creatures roaming around the surface, as giants terrorize those who live on the dragons’ backs.
If Grant happens to walk into the area of influence of a giant, pests will start to spawn that will eat materials and break houses down. Still, they are simple to deal with as all players need to do is push them off the side of town. This is simple enough to do, and pests have never attacked me as I shoved them around.
This highlights one of the significant issues with Drago Noka. There are few ways to interact with NPCs other than pushing them around or asking them to make an item. Even after players have recruited every available NPC, they are rarely walking around town or interacting with each other. It makes everything feel empty even while building the town up. Part of the joy of life simulation titles is to see how the NPCs interact with each other and the interpersonal relationships that are already there.
Instead, many will stay inside whatever house has been assigned, maybe venturing near their home but quickly returning to sleep once the sun has gone down. This removes any incentive to look for villagers unless an item needs to be made, as talking to each NPC is only allowed at certain relationship levels, making gifts feel redundant as there is no way to get to know each villager outside their respective tropes.
Earning money also feels redundant as there is usually no item to buy with any gold made by selling items. Most tools and upgrades are achieved using the item or giving a villager a specific crafting tool. So materials have a high value for players as most items can just be created by players or one of the villagers. While there is a chance to purchase seeds near other dragons, those chances are rare, and usual items for purchase tend to be music discs for players to listen to as they play.
Drago Noka is a very ambitious game trying to make its own identity in the life simulation genre. Although charming, poor interactions between NPCs and the economy can make players feel directionless. Compounding this problem is the fact that players must discover many facets. There is a lot for players to sink their teeth into with Drago Noka, but a lack of direction could cause most to lose patience before the world opens up.
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