Dragon Fin Soup is a turn-based strategy RPG developed by Grimm Bros, and heavily inspired by fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White. The game also incorporates rogue-like elements, with a procedurally-generated world and an optional perma-death to keep players focused and make every move count. There are several areas of the world to explore, as well as missions to solve and people to meet throughout the story of Robin, the red-hooded character the story revolves around.
Dragon Fin Soup offers three main modes of gameplay: story, survival, and endless labyrinth. Each of these is designed to challenge the player to the best of their ability, with randomly-generated levels filled with deadly monsters and traps. Story mode is self-explanatory, as it provides the main narrative for the game. This is coupled with a series of bounty hunter missions that change slightly to allow for different locations, and these sometimes have different objectives altogether.
Survival mode challenges players to last as long as possible, and explore as far as they can into a monster-infested territory of the unexplored lands. The player’s goal is to reach a high score by the time their character’s HP falls to zero from the many monsters and boss battles they will face (with little respite from waves). The final endless labyrinth mode simply places players in an unexplored maze with the same general objective as the game mode before. The only difference is that the maze uses indestructible walls that funnel the player to dead ends, traps, treasure rooms, and patrolling monsters.
The gameplay progresses with each move or action the player takes, with enemies moving or attacking right after the player has finished their turn. This means the action can move as quickly, or as slowly, as the player desires. In fact, players can take their time as often as they like in order to plan their moves enough in advance to set up traps, or use certain special abilities. They can even avoid being spotted by enemies, before walking up behind them for extra back-stabbing damage. Careful, though, because that extra damage can work both ways.
Robin fights mainly by using her dagger in melee, though she can equip many different kinds of weapons and items to protect and upgrade her abilities. She can also use firearms, such as a small shotgun that can fire different kinds of slugs at varying ranges and spreads. She can also drop and kick different kinds of bombs in a classic Bomberman style. Robin is skilled enough to fulfill whatever strategy the player feels is best suited to the situation, including dual-wielding different weapons, wielding a two-handed spear with reach, or simply equipping a wooden shield for added protection.
The weapons and armor to empower Robin are located in treasure chests out in the field, or can be purchased from merchants either at the home base or in the monster-infested territories. Players can also craft anything they might need, so long as they have the recipe and crafting ingredients. The game allows for multiple ways to improve Robin’s ability to survive tougher and tougher encounters in the wild.
The story for Dragon Fin Soup takes place in Asura, which lies on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space. Robin wakes up from a nightmare that has haunted her for most of her life…or at least the life that she remembers since she woke up in the village without her memory. Seeking to keep her spirits up with the help of a few strong drinks, she takes on jobs as a bounty hunter. By taking on quests for people, she earns gold to pay her bills, and slowly pushes forward to uncover more of her past.
The game itself is rendered using light 3D models over a largely 2D floor, similar in many ways to the older Diablo and Fallout games. The game also uses a well-composed soundtrack to follow the pace of gameplay, from random encounters suddenly appearing out of nowhere, to exploring mysterious ruins, to simply resting inside the safe village. The music also keeps with the fairy-tale style, feeling both adventurous and lighthearted.
Dragon Fin Soup carries a significant amount of replay value, which comes from the challenging monsters players will face, as well as the randomly-generated dungeons, levels, and even missions. Each playthrough feels different, and requires players to explore a new level each time, sometimes dealing with a whole new host of monsters. Though the game can move quite quickly and smoothly, there is no doubt that it is primarily a strategy game. Players that rush through this game without carefully looking over their surroundings or checking for enemies may find themselves quickly and easily ambushed long before they can react effectively. For those playing with perma-death, this can start to feel a little frustrating, especially since players will need to replay the prologue and introductory mission each time they restart their game.
Dragon Fin Soup is currently available for $19.99 for PC on Steam, PS Vita, PS3, and PS4 platforms, with ports upcoming for Xbox One, iOS, Android, Linux, and Mac platforms. At this price, the game is worth a try for those who enjoy interesting tactical challenges with simple controls and gameplay mechanics. These challenges transfer over to any of the modes, allowing players to choose to explore the story, or simply take on the more extreme challenges provided in the other formats. The game is best played at a slower pace as monsters can cause serious and unforgiving damage within the scope of a few turns.