Frankly, the review could be summed up by your reaction to the 'proposition' from the beefcake of a dragon above. How would you react to this sudden (censored) dragon dick? This is the kind of question that Angels with Scaly Wings made me ponder.
But just how did I end up in this...position? Well, it all started when a fellow TechRaptor reviewer who is no stranger to scaly love brought this game to my attention. With its awkward semi-religious title and very niche concept - a visual novel dating sim with dragons - I admit I was ready for it to be a cringey joke of a game aimed squarely at a demographic that wasn't me.
However, I am a big fan of Hatoful Boyfriend (which was also a visual novel dating sim but with real pigeons), and it turned out to be a funny subversion of dating tropes, with an incredibly dark and emotional story to boot. Shouldn't I give Angels with Scaly Wings the benefit of the doubt? Maybe it would surprise me in the best possible ways too.
Well, ultimately no, it didn't. There were some pleasant surprises, but the game kept falling into the same bad habits of the typical dating sim in the end.
The set-up for Angels with Scaly Wings is actually fairly interesting, reminding me of the movie Contact of all things. The game begins with a text crawl telling you it is the year 20XX and humanity have discovered a portal into a new world populated by a sentient race of dragons. How humanity begins to communicate with this unknown alien life is written in great detail and treated fairly seriously. The player character is even shown to be philosophical about meeting intelligent life. There is a lot of decent world building in these opening paragraphs, and the tone is surprisingly mellow and somber.
You are even given some very minimal customization of the player character. Angels with Scaly Wings is ultimately a visual novel, and the player character never physically shows up on-screen and everything is conveyed primarily through text and still images. You get to choose your name, and the color that represents you in the text; the rest of the RPG elements primarily rests in your choices later. I named the player character Sam so that he can finally find scaly love.
Your character's gender is actually never brought up. You never get to choose it, and for the rest of the game, you are pretty much just called the 'human person'. This actually gets a bit confusing concerning some romance routes, but it's safe to assume all the dragons are bisexual. With a human fetish. All of them.
I am not a big fan of the art style, but characters are well-drawn and the background details are crisp. Personally I found the rather kiddy-looking dragon designs clashed with the serious tone the game sometimes tries to hit, but maybe that's the point. The characters are all very expressive, you will know exactly when you said something they find sexy or hate. It actually makes it possible to save scum through a lot of choices using the game's quicksave and quick load system. Did the dragon scowl in disagreement? Quickload back and choose the choice that makes him/her horny instead!
Another thing you will immediately notice is the oddly Earth-looking backgrounds and the fact that all the dragons speak English. The characters actually do bring up how suspiciously coincidental that is, and it's a plot point. The justification for it later on still doesn't make complete sense, but kudos to the writer for not expecting players to just 'accept' the world of the game as it is.
Having said all that, a dragon using a park bench still looks awkward as hell.
The basic premise of the game is that you and another human, a man named Reza, are human ambassadors to the Dragon World. On your very first day, the diplomatic mission is jeopardized because Reza is really trigger-happy. The main goal then becomes one where you have to track down Reza, as well as trying to unravel the greater mystery of the world. The story then grows more and more intricate as you are given the option to interact with the different characters at certain points of the game. What is great is that who you choose to interact with and at which point of time you do, will have a very noticeable impact on future events as they come.
Naturally, this means that to really experience the story of the game in its entirety, you will need to replay the game multiple times to try out different choices. This plays into Angels with Scaly Wings strongest aspect, which is how it ties in the traditional replayability of a visual novel into its narrative. I will go more into this later in the article.
However, it feels like because the scope of the story is so big, that events get muddled or just do not flow well into each other. A minor example is at one point my character is suddenly at a BBQ, however there was no lead-up from any previous events that made it seem this was going to happen. Another much more more jarring example is when my character knew information by referring to an event that I did not actually experience in any of my previous playthroughs yet. It is still easy to follow the overall narrative, but hiccups like those do show its occasional cracks.
Angels with Scaly Wings has a pretty solid way of handling multiple playthroughs of the game, and you have to replay the game to progress through the overall plot. You will fail your first playthrough for certain. When you replay and choose different routes and choices, you get to affect them using key information and plot items that you got from previous playthroughs. This big spanning interlinked narrative is the most impressive aspect of the game. It's not perfect, there are some points where events got tracked incorrectly, but overall the interlacing story works.
Replaying is also made a lot more bearable by the 'smart-skip' function built into the game. You can hold down a key to just skip all the text you have read before, and the game will suggest a skip ahead if it knows you are going through a particularly long scenario again. My initial playthrough took me about 5 hours, subsequent ones usually went a lot faster as I cleaned up loose ends, extending playtime only when I ran into new content.
What actually disappoints me most is the 'romance' portion of the game. Now, I knew what Angels with Scaly Wings was before playing. This is a dating sim about romancing dragons. The selling point of this game is to bone/get boned by a dragon. The ultimate end-goal is to successfully romance every dragon under the sun.
Unfortunately, the game decides to get the player 'into the mood' by dropping innuendos relentlessly.
Let me show you what my character decided to do, without any prompting from me, when I just picked the 'Examine container' option:
Or when I am investigating a bakery, that just so happens to have a pharmacy section. What automatically draws my character's eye?
It is not just the player character who's thinking about it, but all the dragons are immediately interested in getting into your pants. Despite the fact you an alien visitor that just arrived two days ago.
What is more outrageous is that humans are actually regarded as divine and mythical creatures in the Dragon World, like how dragons are seen in the real world. All the dragons are effectively trying to bone what they believe is their creator god.
Do the dragons feel any conflict in having sexual thoughts for a completely alien species? Shouldn't at least some of them realize the kind of sacrilege involved with 'the coming of the divine'?
No, they don't. In fact, they barely seem to have any any kind of emotional attachment to the player character even at the end of the romance routes, except feeling hot and bothered. Or at least, the writer actually never writes all that much about what either character feel regarding the interspecies relationship, and never goes into detail about the actual sexy bits.
I know it sounds weird that I am complaining that the game is not explicit enough, but I had to suffer a barrage of innuendo throughout the entire game, and suddenly it's like the writer gets embarrassed about what he/she is writing, and just flat-out stops. In the example above, where Bryce is like "Hey giiiirl/guuuy." and I picked to 'Accept' my fate; nothing actually happens. It cuts to black and then it is the next day. I understand that nothing visually can be shown, but there's no text even describing some of the action, or the thoughts that definitely should be going through the player's head, reflecting on his/her life choices that led to this.
For a game that partially markets itself as a dragon porn game, there is a lack of any real dragon porn. The rest of the game has lavish detail put into describing environments, scenarios, and backstories. I expect the same amount of detail to go into describing what Bryce's packing behind that wine bottle!
It is already hard to take the game seriously because of the subject matter and the art style. However, all the constant innuendo and lewdness from interacting with the dragons just devolves all of them into a bunch of horny human fetishists and dragon pin-ups. It brings Angels with Scaly Wings right back down to a typical 'sex for the sake of sex' visual novel. Except there isn't even anything explicit either, so who is this game even for?
Angels with Scaly Wings suffers from a real imbalance in quality of writing between the more serious overarching story and the romantic portion. There is an intricately woven narrative in here that is impressive and intriguing on its own. The 'romance' bits just feel clumsy, with dragons inexplicably romantically attracted to you in a matter of days, constantly drip-feeding innuendo to you with no pay-off.
The easiest way to know if the game is for you is to look at the header image, your reaction tells you if you will love or hate this game. For me, I was honestly hopeful for the story because I liked the science-fiction aspect of it, and how you have a very real impact on the narrative with the different choices and replays. But the crude lewdness that keeps popping up just cheapened all the dragon characters, and made it hard for me to to just care about them, romantically or not.
Angels with Scaly Wings was reviewed on PC using a copy provided by the developer.
A decently well-written game that almost elevates its silly concept with a heavily interwoven narrative that makes creative use of multiple replays. It's ultimately unable to get away from the stigma of being a 'dragon porn' game but doesn't completely succeed as one either.(Review Policy)
- Fairly well-written with an intricate narrative
- Lovely soundtrack
- Handy smart-skip function make replays easier
- Some fun minigames
- Sexy dragons (if you're into that sort of thing)
- Sexy dragons (if you're not into that sort of thing)
- Inconsistent writing quality
- Events sometimes get referred to out-of-order
- Repetition as replays are required
- Constant distracting innuendo