We all love a good dragon, but it’s the rare videogame that doesn’t completely ruin them, reining in those devastating powers so that a decent critical hit can finish them off in one go, or riddling that hide with glowing weak spots, perfect for attacks from cowardly archers. Burn And Turn doesn’t do any of that: it’s out to venerate fantasy’s biggest superstars rather than hobble them. Sure, its dragons may only be a dozen pixels high, but they’re formidable beasts all the same: jealous, violence-prone, and practically impossible to kill. Best of all, you get to become one.
Burn And Turn’s a tower defence variant at heart: you swoop about capturing princesses, and then you see off any enemies who subsequently turn up to try and rescue them. The simple drag-to-steer controls give you a welcome degree of precision as you move around a selection of rather basic maps, while a few quick taps of the screen are all you need to reduce most of your foes to ash, regardless of whether you’re in motion or sat roosting on one of your towers.
There’s a twist though, and it’s a good one. Although you’re all but invulnerable, your strongholds aren’t – and if your attackers manage to bring even one of them down, it’s game over. Robot Bear’s found an ingenious solution to the Dragon Problem, in other words, and rather than limiting your powers, the developers simply overwhelm you with distractions: things you want to kidnap, things you want to kill, and things you want to collect.
That last category comes in the form of the power-ups that drive the game’s elegant spell-stacking system – a system that’s capable of mutating your standard flame breath into anything from gigantic fireballs, to bullet-hell lightning bolts. It’s not uncommon to lose a match because you’re so engrossed in levelling up your attacks that you’ve completely forgotten to defend yourself, and it’s the hilariously explosive outcomes of your ad hoc experiments that give the game a lot of its arcadey pleasures.
Thrifty, personable, and endearingly violent, Burn And Turn just about makes up for decades of videogame dragon abuse, then. With little development budget and even less in the way of lore, Robot Bear’s put its winged giants back where they belong – up in the air, causing all kinds of wonderful chaos.