Merge Dragons Review

Merge Dragons

Who knew that merging things was any fun?

If you have not heard of it, Merge Dragons is a mobile puzzle game from Zynga. They are best known for casual games like Farmville 3 and Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells. Although this is safely in the casual space, it is quite distinct from the rest of their catalog of games.

First released in 2017, Merge Dragons has seen many updates in the years since its launch. Recently, Zynga added new decorating features to personalize your dragon home. Due to this ongoing support, I thought that I would check the game out for myself. To my pleasant surprise, it’s halfway decent.

Now let’s dive a little bit more into what the game is actually all about.

Merge to your heart’s content

Merge Dragons is a fairly simple puzzle game. The basic premise is that you have grid-based levels filled with objects and various objectives. The main goal is usually to merge three statues, which you can do when you drag them next to each other.

Sounds easy enough, right?

The catch is that many of the objects are on “dead” land. Anything that is located on a dead tile cannot move. Instead, you will first need to “heal” the land. This is accomplished when you tap on heart containers. You can also merge three or more objects – including objects on dead land – as long as one of the tiles is fully healed.

Merge Dragons

Another condition is that the objects must be the same type. For instance, the game has wood, stones, flowers, dirt piles, coins, chests, dragon eggs, and all sorts of other items that you can merge. Once they merge, they become an upgraded version of the object.

For instance, a tiny magic coin becomes a level two bronze magic coin. A life flower sprout becomes a life flower. The leveling up for items continues on and on for a while. Some almost reach level twenty before they cap off. The higher the level, the better benefits the items tend to give. So the game incentivizes merging again and again.

Bureau of Land Management

The challenge here is twofold: land management and knowing in what order to merge or use the various items. Let’s touch on land management first, although they tie into each other. You are only given a certain number of tiles within each level. What’s more, a certain percentage of the land is “dead” (as previously explained), so you are really restricted to a small patch to start off each level. Once your dragons get to work doing their thing, the tiles fill up fast.

Merge Dragons

Of course, an easy solution to the issue is to simply merge three or more like items. Again, objects need to be the same type and the same level in order to merge them. But the order in which you merge or use items matters too. If you use a heart container to clear dead land, it may turn out that you need to merge that heart on a dead tile.

Pro tip: Merging three objects of the same type and level results in one higher-level object. Merging five objects results in two higher-level objects. In other words, you get a small bonus. Use this to your advantage!

Eventually, you encounter enemies called Zomblins that foul up the land. They will actually reverse your progress, turning healed land back into dead land. You should use your dragons to eliminate them as quickly as possible. There are some other nuances to the game, but this covers most of the basics. It’s not complicated, but it does have more depth than you would think at first glance.

Camping

Of course, games like this often reward users with all kinds of in-game goodies. Merge Dragons is no different as you will have a camp where you can store coins, bricks, gems, buildings, and the like. Like the game’s levels, your camp starts off as a small patch with more tiles unlocked as you heal the land. There are also areas of the camp’s map covered in fog that are only lifted once you reach a certain dragon power. Your dragon power increases as you add more dragons to your camp.

Merge Dragons

While some of the items in your camp are added as rewards from playing the game’s various levels, others are available to purchase. You can buy new dragon eggs with in-game coins or gems. If you run out of gems, there is always the option to buy them for real money, although you can enjoy this game without spending money if you’re patient enough.

In addition to gems and coins, you also need dragon chalices to unlock new levels. These are refilled over time – or you can fill them up if you have enough gems. This is how Zynga makes its money from the otherwise free-to-play game. To be clear, you can play this without spending money, but it requires a good deal of patience since you will get locked out of progressing until the chalices refill automatically.

Conclusion

Merge Dragons is a surprisingly entertaining game. Further, the game is designed to allow you to progress as long as you are willing to wait between levels. This will undoubtedly annoy a lot of players, but it’s also a common tactic in the free-to-play model.


Recommendation | Merge Dragons is a solid and cute puzzle game with the usual annoyances expected from free-to-play progression.


Final Score | 3.5 out of 5


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  • Reviewed On:

    Android
  • Also On:

    iOS
  • Publisher:

    Zynga
  • Developer:

    Gram Games
  • Genre:

    Puzzle game
  • ESRB Rating:

    E
  • Release Date:

    June 28, 2017
  • MSRP:

    Free-to-play


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