Choice of the Dragon
Aah, the life of a dragon. Fighting knights. Hoarding treasures. Flying around scaring/eating things. Kidnapping princesses— oh, wait, is that considered sexist? Well, I'll have you know, I alternate between capturing princes and princesses, you just stumbled across me while I had the latter. But you know what? You can do what you want. Seriously, you can. Choice of the Dragon is a choose your own adventure browser game where you live the life of a dragon, moving from decision to decision and being as docile or cruel as you want.
Choice of the Dragon is almost entirely text, meaning you'll have to do some reading to extract maximum joy out of the experience. The writing style is crisp, though, and peppered with enough sarcastic humor to make it consistently interesting. In addition to choosing your path in dragon life, you also decide what your dragon looks like, its gender, color, and a number of other attributes that are all woven right into the story. It's impressive how much of the content changes based on your decisions, though due to the forward-moving nature of the game, you have to restart in order to see that in action.
Each screen presents you with a brief scenario and a number of choices. Goblins outside your cave squabbling? You could put a stop to that. They are, after all, your minions, and you didn't give them permission to kill each other. On the other hand, they should fight for your amusement, shouldn't they? Bring refreshments! On the other other hand, goblins are beneath your mighty dragon self. So, like, whatever...
There's more here than just reading a story, too. Choice of the Dragon tracks character stats such as brutality, finesse, disdain and honor along with health, wealth, and infamy, all of which are affected by the choices you make on each screen. Check up on your dragon status by clicking the button just above the story part of the screen.
Analysis: So, what's the point of the game? To be a dragon, of course. To fly about and sculpt your personality and your world as you see fit. You're also (initially) looking for a place to start your treasure pile, and mini-objectives come and go as the storylines progress. Choice of the Dragon gives you a surprisingly long leash in this, all with a well-written narrative that's sprinkled with just the right amount of humor. It's not about puzzles, it's about meaningful interactions with the narrative.
Games of this nature encourage exploration. Not necessarily of the "walk every road, dive into every lake" type, but of the story, the characters, and of how your decisions impact the rest of the game. You're encouraged to do as you please, but one thing the game is missing is some sort of checkpoint system allowing you to go back and retry certain parts of the game. It's a fine design choice to make your decisions be a permanent part of the game, as that gives things a sense of permanence and forces you to think about your choices before clicking. There were a few times I found myself morbidly curious as to what some other options would have revealed, though, and I wished there was a way to just peek around the corner before moving onward.
If you're in the mood for a little reading and want a game that's more involved than smacking mouse buttons at the right time, Choice of the Dragon is definitely for you. It's well-written, engaging, and full of wonderful moments to explore and experience.