Endless runners are a dime a dozen in the mobile world but Dragon and Shoemaker looks to add a few twists and turns to the dry formula. Dragon and Shoemaker tells the story of the Wawel Dragon, a Polish folktale about a dragon that ravages a town only to be outsmarted by a shoemaker. In the game you play, surprisingly enough, the shoemaker on his quest to thwart the dastardly dragon. You’ll run, jump, roll, and hit things with a stick to collect both coins and sheep on your way to the dragon.
Dragon and Shoemaker has a lot of kinks to work out, such as clipping and strange animation glitches, but there is a charm and addictive quality to the game. The majority of the game follows the normal endless runner formula; run from left to right while avoiding obstacles and collecting currency. In Dragon and Shoemaker the most important forms of currency are coins and sheep, both of which are needed in order to move on to the next area. Collecting coins and sheep is stifled by the fact that a constant stream of wildlife wants to get in your way and squash you. You’ll jump over wild horses, dodge bears, avoid a dragon’s fireball, and smash wolves until your heart is filled with joy.
The first few levels of Dragon and Shoemaker introduce new mechanics; rolling, jumping, and attacking and then the fun starts. Each level thereafter introduces new and more difficult situations that require you to utilize your abilities in order to make it past unscathed. With the coin you collect you can buy upgrades, such as new weapons or equipment, to better fight the hordes that stand against you. The coins can also be used to purchase potions that allow you to revive at checkpoints rather than the beginning of the level.
Finishing an area allows you to access the next one, as long as you have the right amount of sheep and coins. I found myself in deep water a few times when I had access to an area but couldn’t afford to buy into it as I spent money on equipment or potions. Having a coin requirement to a new area seems odd as inhibiting gameplay due to money, and not explaining that outright, can cause problems with the need for a grind later on. I found myself grinding a few levels over and over in order to make coin quickly without the need to buy potions or equipment.
Dragon and Shoemaker also has a few glitches I’ve realized, things like; sticking to the environment resulting in death, clipping through the environment at times, collision detection being a bit wonky, and the sometimes awkward animations. At times I felt like I was making the right jump at the right time only to see my character die without warning. Other times I thought for sure I was going to die only to see my character graze spikes or a bear’s head without harm. The inconsistency, though infrequent, can make for an odd experience as its occurrence becomes quite obvious when it happens.
Overall Dragon and Shoemaker is a game with kinks that need to be ironed out. It aims to bring the formula of an endless runner into the world of folklore with a story anyone can enjoy. Playing the smart shoemaker who wishes to take down the evil dragon has promise and the gameplay can become quite addictive. It’s just the few hiccups here and there that need to be fixed before the game feels just right.