There’s no doubt that there’s room for growth and improvement here, and perhaps even an expansion pack or two, but Dragon Commander pulls off the seemingly impossible anyway. While the gameplay in the final product is a little more pedestrian and down-to-earth than the high-flying concepts put forward in the earliest preview trailers, all the core elements are enjoyable by themselves, but are interwoven well enough as to result in a truly coherent whole.
If you are already interested in turn-based games like the Civilization series then Divinity: Dragon Commander brings a faster-paced military-oriented game that offers more variety in achieving a combat victory as well as narrative that has humorous characters and, while not spectacular, gives something for the player to think about.
The Good: Beautiful visuals, great voice acting lend to the brilliant game-play. A decent learning curve. Few games in the genre really make you think carefully before hitting the “End Turn” button.
The Bad: Some battles can be very easy or very difficult, depending on placement on the battle map. Maps sometimes seem recycled and don’t always fit with the way a province looks on the campaign map. Though the learning curve is decent, the first few battles will be a strain as you learn to control in both traditional RTS fashion and Dragon mode.
Some aspects of Divinity: Dragon Commander suffer from Larian’s over-ambition. Any of the elements would do well in a combination of two or three, sacrificing just a bit of content for polish in other areas of presentation. Dragon Commander tries to be more than a little bit of everything, and in the end dulls some of the gleaming potential the game’s many layers have on their own. However, the multi-tiered assault on the senses and brain meats of the player make for an experience that’s more immersive than a lot of other modern game offerings and really makes you feel like you’re in the thick of things. Check out Divinity: Dragon Commander if you’re willing to lose yourself in an off-beat fantasy world for a bit and can forgive a game that ends up being okay at a lot of things rather than polishing a small handful of features.
Most notably, you'll have the ability to directly intervene in any real-time battle you're overseeing by transforming into a jet-pack wearing dragon. This turns the game into a kind of third-person arcade-style shooter, letting you spit fiery doom upon enemy forces and cast spells to heal your own troops. While flying your dragon self around is easy and it is an amusing experience to strafe hostile forces with your flame breath, the novelty of transforming into a dragon wears off quickly. The controls to order your troops around in dragon form are clunky to use, and until you research more powerful spells and abilities, you're highly vulnerable to anti-air units. If anything, you'll often resort to transforming into a dragon just to tip the scales slightly in your favor in a fight before retreating to safety, and even then you'll probably find it just as easy to send mass waves of units into combat to win the day.
Larian's latest release is consistent with its catalogue to date, which is to say it's finely optimized for PC. Though not perfect, it comes close with respectably good visuals, a strong list of graphics and control options, and excellent performance across the board.