Have you played this game?You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.
Playlists and Wishlists
RSS FeedsNew member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page
About the Story
George would be the first to laugh if he knew he was going to end up as England’s patron saint. He can still save the village of Greymarsh from a dragon, though, with a little help from his old friend the princess.
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2022
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 2
Write a review
This game requires you to create an account with an email and name and to accept cookies, which felt like a lot. I used a burner email and fake other things.
The idea is that you are a young man named George who is the son of a blacksmith and knows the royal family. Every year, a young maiden gets sacrificed to a dragon, but this year, you hope to help stop that.
Here's my overall rating:
+Polish: The images look a bit strange, like the princess wearing some kind of autumnal leaf pajamas. Otherwise, I didn't run into errors.
-Descriptiveness: A lot of details are just skimmed over or assumed. Plot twists happen in quick succession without a lot of forewarning or explanation.
-Interactivity: It was a bit confusing figuring out what to do, or what did what. At one point you're given a ton of gold, but then it doesn't really come up again. I grabbed a fire crystal, but it said I needed a sword; later I was given a sword, but it never came up whether I used the crystal. Exploring a royal camp ended up showing me part of a villain's base, but it just seemed out of nowhere.
-Emotional impact: I had difficulty becoming emotionally invested in the story.
+Would I play again? I'd probably like to see other endings.
To be fair to the author, a significant amount of work went into this game. I may have been prejudiced from the start, as I enjoy the quick, anonymous, pick-up-and-put-down nature of more text IF, so having a full-screen graphics-based game with mandatory account creation likely put me off from the actual content.
I have a dilemma when it comes to reviewing visual novels: on the one hand, I’m firmly on board with a broad definition of IF, and against artificially excluding a clearly text-driven – and very popular! – genre. On the other hand, I often personally have a hard time getting to grips with them: I find the interfaces fiddly, as I have a hard time advancing the tiny, slowly-scrolling text window without missing stuff, and their design often presupposes multiple playthroughs, which is increasingly challenging for me as I have decreasing time for IF. Plus I usually ignore the graphics and find them a distraction from the text, which is what I come to IF for in the first place. So while I want to be ecumenical and give George and the Dragon the same level of engagement I’m giving to the other Spring Thing entries, I’m also acutely aware that I might not be the best person to assess how successful it is at doing what it sets out to do – so the reader might want to adjust their salt-grain intake accordingly as they proceed through this review.
George and the Dragon has an orthodox fantasy setting – according to the blurb, this is a story about how St. George became the patron saint of England, but while he does slay a dragon if you play your cards right, England never had a king named Dennis so far as I know, nor were gems of fire resistance thick on the ground, and the general vibe is pretty Ren Faire-y. Despite the familiarity of the setting, though, I had difficulty getting to grips with the story. It starts in medias res, with your character stumbling on an argument between characters you don’t know, without providing much context for who you are and what’s going on. Most of this got clearer as I played – the opening incident isn’t that important, and again befitting the game’s classic-fantasy approach, there’s a festival/lottery going on in the village, with the “winner” being offered up as a sacrifice to appease the dragon – but the exposition didn’t feel especially smooth to me, and I ran into a bug where the blacksmith told me something had happened before it actually did, which confused things further.
As I understand the gameplay tropes of the VN genre, it’s also pretty orthodox on that front – you get regular choices of options as you progress through dialogue-driven scenes, with an additional map interface that lets you choose where to go in a little village. It’s very likely you’ll hit a game-over in your first playthrough, because this dragon is not messing around, but there’s easy saving-and-loading and skip-read-text option to make replays more bearable (though I found that the option fussy, both skipping when it shouldn’t and not skipping when it should).
Your choices do have significant consequences, but in a way that occasionally felt obscure – for example, getting on a winning path seems to require visiting the princess when you go to the king’s camp to deliver a sword, but whether or not I was able to do that seemed to hinge on choices I made in the opening argument sequence, with no narrative threads explaining what had changed so far as I could tell (though this might be because I’d inadvertently skipped changed text in a replay, per the issue I mentioned above). It also doesn’t help that the game is tough, with a lot more ways to fail than there are to win.
One of the significant upsides of a VN is that with the real estate given over to graphics allows for visual storytelling, and the foregrounding of characters opening up the ability to display their emotions without needing to spell things out in text. As mentioned earlier, I’m probably not the best critic to assess art design choices, but I have to say I mostly didn’t like the graphics. The characters design was odd to me, with the kind sporting an unflattering 1970’s mustache and the princess wearing what look like day-glo Bermuda shorts, and scenes are often staged with the characters standing too far away from the game’s camera. There are some effective sequences – the climactic fight with the dragon has some visual pop – but for me, they came after a bad first impression.
I’ve said a lot of negative things about George and the Dragon, but as I review them, many of these critiques boil down to “I would have liked this better if it was a text-only Twine game” – without the distracting graphics and slow pace of text display, and with more focus on the written word to carry the weight of storytelling, I would probably find the game unpretentious but solid enough. So I could certainly see a player who’s more simpatico with visual novels having a much better time than I did, and I look forward to more VNs being entered into IF festivals and competitions if only so that I can get more comfortable with their way of doing things.