Drakan: Order of the Flame
Description official descriptions
Many centuries ago, mankind and dragonkind fought each other, and chaos ruled. After many years, the conflict came to an end, as the Order of the Flame was created, bonding men and dragons together as the protectors of peace and virtue. Under the direction of the Order, the world of Drakan has prospered in peace, attaining new heights of learning of magic.
All this came to an end when Navros, the war mage, betrayed the Order of the Flame, and led the Dark Union against the Order in the Dark Wars. He released evils on the world such as the Wartocks, to serve as his army. The Order was demolished, and only by the sacrifice of the great dragon Arokh the Drak Union was stopped. Arokh and the rest of the surviving dragons went away to sleep, and the Order and the Union were thought to be finished at that time, centuries ago. They were wrong.
Waking up from a Wartock raid of her village, Rynn, a young warrior, discover the village in ruins and her brother kidnapped. As she sets out to find him, she becomes, perhaps by destiny, bound to the legendary dragon Arokh. The two then set out to find out what is happening...
Drakan features a unique engine that seamlessly blends outdoor scenes and indoor scenes. Playing the game, you will ride Arokh, using his fiery breath as a weapon, or walk around as Rynn, using swords and bows as your weapons. You will have "dog"-fights with dragons, or a hand to hand combat with giant spiders, scavengers and Wartocks.
- Drakan: להבות האש - Hebrew spelling
Credits (Windows version)
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Average score: 82% (based on 37 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 35 ratings with 3 reviews)
Drakan is a nifty little 3d action/adventure title that brings to the table it's own breed of original features while conforming to the guidelines set by the Tomb Raider formula. Basically you take on the role of Rynn, a hot yet kind babe who lives a happy life with her brother until her village suffers a raid from a band of marauding Warthoks. These baddies burn and pillage everything and take with them the village's youth as slaves, thus a surviving Rynn desperately goes out in search of her brother and decides to awaken a long dormant dragon belonging to a long-forgotten order of dragon-riding knights as a desperate last resort (alternatively, she might have thought Dragons were cool and this was as good an excuse as any other to get to ride one). Being now bonded to her dragon and rising as the newest knight in ages in the order, Rynn sets out to explore the fantasy world of Drakan, and lays down fiery death upon her unsuspecting foes from high above.
The best way to describe the experience would be as a sort of helicopter simulator with the added coolness of, uhm... you know, not being a helicopter but instead a fire-breathing dragon, the simple flight model means you don't have to fiddle much with smalltime considerations such as drag or lift and instead your focus is on enjoying the ability to glide around vast landscapes as Arokh (the dragon) tilts and turns smoothly across the skies. It may not sound like much, and there's really not much more to it than flying around and setting things on fire, but the dragon riding gimmick is successfully executed and effectively puts the game out of the pack of generic 3D action games.
Of course, it's not all dragon riding, as there are some locations such as caves and dungeons were your dragon is unable to assist you and which force you to dismount and go at it on your own. These sequences reward the player with some of the most enjoyable early 3D action sequences to be spawned from the Tomb Raider mold. Rynn moves and jumps around just like Lara, except she doesn't have to jump around so much (she even lacks the ability to grab ledges) which eliminates most of the annoying jumping puzzles, and gains an expanded arsenal of melee weapons and fighting mechanics that put the emphasis on action gaming. Collecting swords, bows, hatchets and other assorted weapons Rynn goes around hacking away at the many enemies she faces, unfortunately for her these weapons aren't perfect and blend different speed/range/damage stats that give each weapon it's unique pros and cons, furthermore limited inventory space means you can't take everything you see, and since weapons wear out with use it's a safe bet you are going to need replacements. Added features like armor piercing damage and other magic weapons deepen the gameplay some more for a much more interesting experience than your average Deathtrap Dungeon-like game. All with interesting locations such as gigantic caverns, magical grooves and other assorted dungeons populated by a collection of interesting monsters that are actually a challenge to fight, as they effectively time their attacks and successfully parry and dodge your attacks! Dungeon crawls can be quite a daunting experience in Drakan, as you face off against giant monsters and dark knights that have little or no relation to the dimwitted fodder that gets thrown your way in these types of games. Plus, it's PC-origination means it makes use of the always superior mouselook/wasd combo control scheme, something which these types of games almost always leave out and which gives Drakan a much tighter and effective control scheme.
The graphics while now dated clearly work in the game's favor. As I mentioned the game allows you to smoothly fly around with your dragon across rather large areas, areas upon which you can seamlessly set foot and continue as Rynn, clear out dungeons with dozens of critters and continue on your way without having to load even once! The quality of the graphics themselves are firmly etched in the days of first-generation polygonal games (remember when characters didn't move their lips when they talked?) with simple textures and a notable fog used to mask the terrain pop-up whenever atop your dragon. However a distinct style and look was achieved that gives you sometimes inspired level and character design like the flying islands area or the sultry succubus (who share witchblade's sense of fashion and wear nothing except a small bunch of tendrils).
Additionally, while the game follows the basic medieval/fantasy mood, it also incorporates it's own quirky amount of dry humor that really helps give the game a unique personality, all based on small details such as the PA-system in the bad guy's lair that calls everyone to a meeting in an almost corporate-like way, or the jabs and teases Rynn and Arokh share whenever you call him or rejoin after an extenuating dungeon crawl, even Rynn herself contributes to the mix. You may partially recognize her as a Lara-clone from the get-go thanks to her immense cleavage and boobs, however it would be more accurate to consider her as Lara's younger sister. Yeah the genetics are there, so they share the same ahum "realistic" body proportions, moves and tight fetish clothing, however she knows she's in Lara's shadow no matter what, so her character plays out in a more humble manner with much less of that gun-toting "Bad Grrrl" attitude and arrogance. One might say that the developers managed to portray a low-profile version of Lara that allowed them to basically set her free in the game and have fun without having to worry about marketing campaigns and stuff like that.
The story is remarkably dull and only avoids being laced with plot-holes because of it's extreme simplicity, with a dull premise that develops into an even more stupid quest which abruptly ends with one of the lamest endings ever which is about as long and fulfilling as one of those "Congratulations!!" screens from an early NES game.
As previous reviewers noted, the flight model of the dragon while cool enough, has it's clear flaws. Crashing into anything doesn't even make the dragon flinch and instead bumps him along the path it was on, and the lack of flight limitations means the dogfights you have against other dragons and assorted flying pests turn into nothing more than glorified circle-strafing exercises which not only take it's toll on the singleplayer game, but pretty much destroy the multiplayer mode, as it quickly becomes a boring fireball-hurling affair. Mind you, I happen to like what Drakan did with dragon riding, but there's no denying there's still a lot of problems with it.
The melee fighting, while challenging and fun is still prone to AI problems and every now and then you can quickly finish off a troublesome fight by messing up with the AI's pathfinding and funneling the goons here or there, or by simply exploiting a "blind spot" from were you can attack them and they can't respond.
Finally, while the game's visual design has it's brilliant moments it also balances itself with some downright pathetic ones, such as the introductory "valley at night" (with "night" meaning a black environmental texture map) that is probably the game's lowest point, even featuring stupid statue-pushing puzzles stolen from other games that are thankfully left out for the rest of the game.
Oh! And the audio department is really shitty... The music you can do without, as it's much better to fly atop your dragon with Blind Guardian or Rhapsody thumping from your stereo anyway, but the grating SFX and amateurish voice acting is another problem entirely.
The Bottom Line
While not a perfectly polished diamond, Drakan truly delivers a much more enjoyable and entertaining experience than most games of it's kind. While the untrained eye might dismiss it as a Dragon-riding clone of Tomb Raider, the truth is that there's much more depth and fun to be had here than from most other 3rd person action/adventure titles, with only such uber-cool titles as Soul Reaver, MDK, Spider-Man or Heretic 2 surpassing it for sheer 3rd person gameplay bliss. And considering this is Surreal's first big-time effort it's even more of an achievement.
Quite frankly the only reason I can think of to justify the lack of success Drakan had was that it had no Playstation version, which is like the official platform for these types of games and which still puzzles me. Specially if you consider that Psygnosis was behind it!!
Windows · by Zovni (10502) · 2004
I must admit, I haven't quite finished this game but have gotten through enough of it to know I want to start over and do things differently.
Dragons are neat and getting to fly on one is awesome. Fighting a battle while atop your dragon is another matter altogether. Air battles are not as interesting as you might think and can become tedious as the game progresses.
The story moves you along from one area to another, in Tomb Raider fashion. Rynn is very similar to the infamous Lara Croft in many respects. She'll be running, jumping, fighting and even swimming through some surrealistic places. Some of the "worlds" are fantastic, others are just plain weird.
Graphics are nicely rendered and the music for each scenario was appropriate.
The monsters have varied degrees of strengths, but some of them can move faster than Rynn can, an unfair advantage. The "bosses" are sometimes impossible to defeat, causing players to resort to using the "god" cheat. This is not because they are so difficult, but because the graphics engine is too intense and can overtax your system.
Limitations on the numbers and weights of inventory objects made me drop items before I wanted to. Since the weapons and armour do wear out, it is challenging to figure out what to keep and what to throw away.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for an adventure game, look elsewhere. This one is all action. As a whole, it was a decent introduction to dragon riding but not as good as I had hoped it would be. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel if the designers could clean up the gaming engine.
Windows · by Jeanne (75367) · 2001
Even playing this game 2 years on, the expansive environments are enough to impress - especially the way interior and exterior space is combined. The maps are huge, somewhat non-linear, and filled with interesting nooks and crannies, many times holding bonus items, and sometimes special items or encounters. The RPG element, where the different kinds of weapons and armor degrade over time and you have to keep an eye out for replacements, adds to the tension and makes exploration meaningful beyond just experiencing the environment. With some simple puzzles and traps, and well-staged set pieces, Drakan manages to keep you curious and entertained through quite a long quest. The enemy's AI, while easy to mislead in some instances, has some interesting behaviors - running away, picking up and using nearby allies as projectiles (in the case of the giants), switching between long and short range weapons - the sort of detail that distinguishes between colorful and vanilla enemies. The voice acting (for the admittedly trite dialogue) is mostly good, better than average for games. And let's not forget that feeling of power when you let out a stream of intense fire and fry a group of creatures that on foot would have meant mucho trouble.
Dragonflight is generally exciting, but should have been more. Arokh's collision detection is flawed and makes him bump into invisible barriers. And bump is the right word here, because you get no impression of the force that should have been released by the huge mass of a dragon crashing into rock at a good rate of miles per hour. In the sequel, which is now in production for the PS2, i hope the results of a brush with the terrain take into account the points of contact, the mass and the vector of flight. In the same vein, the aerodynamics for the dragon not only feel wrong, but he is also too easy to maneouver to be as interesting as he should. Arokh is best described as a very nimble helicopter - he can hover, turn on the spot, maintain height even in extreme turns without effort (okay, so maybe he's a flying saucer, not a heli), and go from full speed to reverse flight in a second. As a result of the shallowness of the flight model, there is no challenge in flying, even in constricted spaces. It also affects dragonback combat, which degenerates into the dreaded FPS circle strafe. Story is passable, barely (only because we have very low standards for story telling in games)
The Bottom Line
An action hack & slash game with two-tiered gameplay - on foot and dragon-riding - that works well. The player that likes to explore will find that Drakan can emphasize exploration not less than combat, and provide a lot of entertaining moments.
Windows · by ududy (57) · 2001
Following in the footsteps of Lara Croft, Surreal gave flesh and blood to Drakan's female protagonist in the form of a series of ads and promotions featuring a real-life model. Unlike other pseudo-laras however, the gig only included public appearances and some photo shoots, as of 2002 you can check out the later on Surreal's website: www.surreal-news.com/rynn.htm
In the German version all blood and cut off limbs were removed. Also corpses disappear in a shorter time and can't be interacted with.
Located in a semi-secret area in the Goblin Base is a large cavernous area with a water-surrounded island in the middle. On the island you'll find a goblin guarding Gollum's Potion (it's just an invisibility potion) and a short sword, Sting. This is a reference to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
- 1999 – Best Genre Bender (together with System Shock 2)
Information also contributed by kbmb.
Related Sites +
An excellent Drakan Fan Site
Dan Simpson's Walkthrough
One of the best walkthroughs about this game, Dan put alot of work into it.
The Official Drakan Fan Site
Drakan: Order of the Flame | Wikipedia
Information about the game at Wikipedia.
Another site with many links to related Drakan info
- MobyGames ID: 337
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by robotriot.
Game added October 31st, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.