JRPG Review Visual Novel

Gears Of Dragoon: Fragments Of A New Era – Review

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era (Gears of Dragoon 2 ~Reimei no Fragments~) is an RPG eroge developed by Ninetail, who you may recognize as the developers of the Venus Blood series. Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era was first released in Japan in 2016. This review is based on the new English translation from JAST, releasing on the 20th of October, 2023.

This is actually the second Gears of Dragoon title. The first game in the series, Gears of Dragoon ~Meikyuu no Uroboros~, remains untranslated. Thankfully, there is no direct connection between the two titles as far as I can tell. You certainly don’t need to play the first game to understand and appreciate Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era. What you will need though is a decent amount of patience.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Dungeon

The Dragonschaft

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era has a wonderfully enticing premise. Beneath Carnas, the city of magic, there is a sprawling labyrinth known as the Dragonschaft. Adventurers known as prowlers venture into this labyrinth seeking to claim its wealth and knowledge for themselves. You play as one such prowler, Rustar, who is seeking the mysterious Sage’s treasure, a dream left to him by his late father.

I sometimes wonder if I’m just a complete mark. As soon as the game’s OP played, promising grand adventures, legendary prowlers, and murderous villains, I was so in. I have an innate bias toward these kinds of, admittedly generic, fantasy premises. If you enjoy similar schlock then I imagine you’ll be as tantalized as I was by the game’s opening hours. Unfortunately, the execution here is a mixed bag. Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era deviated in interesting ways from my expectations, but the results weren’t always stellar.

The labyrinth in particular was a letdown. The sense of wonder was undercut by the generic progression of events, and the monotony of the labyrinth itself. I never felt as though I was making grand discoveries, it was more like I was following a script I’d seen before. The world surrounding the labyrinth is more interesting than the labyrinth itself, which is fine but seeing as you’ll spend most of your time in said labyrinth this feels like a missed opportunity. I found myself frequently bored as I was progressing through the floors of the labyrinth, trudging through dull environments waiting to get back to the more interesting narrative elements.

Big Ideas

The narrative of Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era surprised me. This isn’t the generic fantasy story and setting that I was expecting. Whilst the labyrinth itself I found rather dull, the world surrounding it and the way the secrets of the labyrinth impact that world were quite compelling. In the course of the story you’ll form the Fragments, an adventuring party headed by Rustar who seek to explore the labyrinth further and discover its secrets.

The most interesting element of the story is the political intrigue that drives the plot forward. The city of Carnas is home to several organizations with their own motivations, and they are all competing against one another to some extent. The greatest separation at play is between Magius and Machina. That being the gap between those born with the ability to make use of magic, and those who rely on the advanced technology hidden in the labyrinth.

As you progress you’ll learn more about different guilds, different people, and different ways of life within the world of Gears of Dragoon. There are a lot of interesting elements of worldbuilding at play. One of the elements I found the most compelling was the Bijoulia, a race of people born from Nebulum. Nebulum is an incredibly valuable resource, and it is mined heavily. There’s a fascinating conflict here. Nebulum is basically essential for life in Carnas to continue as normal, but by mining it you are effectively killing Bijoulia yet to be born. I was impressed that Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era had such a compelling idea at play, and it wasn’t even the main focus of the narrative.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Aife, Ashley, Percy

Colorful Cast

Of course, a story is nothing without its characters. Thankfully Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era has a great cast to back up its strong narrative elements. Speaking broadly, the game takes care to populate your party with a diverse range of characters who serve as unique points of view into the game’s world and the intrigue driving the plot. I was impressed with how well your team is integrated into the story, no one felt like they were just along for the ride. The cast here is pretty large so having them all feel important is quite an achievement in my opinion.

To get a bit more specific, there are two characters I’d like to highlight. First is Ashley, a half-dragon girl you’ll meet early on in Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era. Ashley has one of the more unusual character motivations in the game. She’s a singer, and her ultimate goal is to become an idol. She wants to amass a legion of fans and inspire people with her vocal talents. She’s also a pathological tsundere. At times rude, mostly snarky, and occasionally cute, she doesn’t necessarily have the best personality for an idol. Her determination in the face of adversity is charming though. As her arc progresses Rustar becomes a real cheerleader for her idol career, and I was right there with him.

The second character I was particularly impressed by is Sapphina. She’s a Bijoulia, the people born of Nebulum I mentioned earlier. After being born she was promptly put into slavery, forced to kill on behalf of her master. Her story of seeking a life of her own, and justice for her people, was well-told and touching. The game’s character writing is at its strongest when using its cast to examine and explore the world, and Sapphina is perhaps the best example of that here.

Winding Paths

Now some final thoughts on Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era’s story before I move on. I do think the narrative is easily the strongest element of the game. Even in the first chapter of the game there are twists and revelations that kept me engaged and enthusiastic to see more. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do want to stress that the story goes well beyond your typical fantasy fare.

The translation deserves heaps of praise. The translation team has put together a brilliant script. The prose is well-paced, detailed, and engaging without getting too long-winded and flowery. Dialogue is laced with personality and humor, bringing life and heart to the narrative. This is an eminently readable game, more so than some pure visual novels I’ve played. My only criticism would be that there are some issues with extraneous narration. I don’t need to be told in narration that the tsundere character is feigning indignation at Rustar’s directness, I got that from her blushing and shouting incoherently.

It’s worth noting that Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era’s narrative isn’t linear. There is a path split late into the game. There are also a series of endings tied to romances with characters that you are able to develop across the course of the game. I do feel as though some characters were shafted here. There isn’t a consistent level of focus across the cast and things start to fray at the edges a bit as you branch out from the main path. I think a more linear focus may have been the better call. An even better idea might be gutting the gameplay entirely and telling this story in a pure visual novel format.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Camp Menu

Systems On Top Of…

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era falls apart as soon as you stop reading and have to start playing. The game is a fairly standard DRPG executed poorly. At its absolute best the gameplay is mediocre, most of the time it’s a frustrating, boring slog. There are a lot of problems here, but I’ll try to be concise. The issues begin with communication. The game is frustratingly opaque. After the introductory story section you’re put into a camp menu with no ceremony or guidance. There is a perfunctory text tutorial that will dump the basics on you, but for the most part you’re going to have to muddle through alone.

There’s nothing that complex going on with Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era, but there are a few systems that appear important that you’ll assume you might have to figure out and experiment with. These systems are simply present though, not integrated with gameplay. You have weapon and armor upgrades, a materia-style slot system, a cooking system, a guild point system, and skill trees. Only the guild point system and skill trees offer anything significant enough to justify interacting with.

You’re never going to die because you didn’t have a passive buff from a meal, or for lack of a 10 point bump in defense on some armor. You’re unlikely to die at all if you pay the minimum level of attention and don’t get clapped by RNG. This applies across difficulty levels. All turning up the difficulty actually achieves is dragging combat on longer and setting the grind requirement higher. There’s just nothing interesting here. Combat is entirely by the books, and poorly executed. Skill progression is flat, encounters are sloppily put together, and there is a total lack of depth.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Mimic Fight


Combat in Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era is round-based. You’ll select an action for each of your party members, and then those actions will resolve in a round of combat alongside the enemy’s actions. This is a disastrously stupid idea. There is no way to consistently know when an action will trigger in the round, and so there is no room for planning or tactics. Unexpected developments like misses, critical hits, or status triggers, can’t be adapted to as they can in a turn-based system. You can’t even make appropriate use of healing skills because you can’t activate them at the appropriate time, it’s left to a roll of the dice.

So many of the problems with combat could have been resolved with a bog standard turn-based system. Not all of them though. Let’s talk about OHKO status effects. These show up in the very first chapter of the game, before you can develop any meaningful way to prevent them. For a good chunk of the game, your only hope of avoiding getting tapped in one round is praying for good RNG. That or running from any enemy that you know can inflict an OHKO. Even when you’re able to build out mitigation it isn’t a magic bullet, and with limited ability to collect information on encounters ahead of time you’re going to get caught out a lot.

Where combat isn’t outright bad, it’s just quite dull. You quickly key into the efficient loop. Setup buffs, dole out attacks matched to enemy weaknesses, and keep your health pool high to avoid KOs. You will not need to adapt this loop to any significant degree. If I was pushed to praise one element of combat, well I’d struggle but I do have one. On easy difficulty, there is a little button that you can press to skip a fight. I didn’t make use of this outside of my time testing out the different difficulty levels. I felt it would be inappropriate to just skip over the combat. I wish I had though. Implementing the ability to skip combat altogether is the best feature implemented in Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Combat Result Screen

Dullardry Delving

Perhaps the combat wouldn’t have been so excruciatingly boring if the systems surrounding it weren’t equally dull. Each level of the Dragonschaft is different only in minor ways. Aesthetically nothing interesting is going on here, and the layouts are even less inspiring. Scores of indistinct corridors and rooms stitched are haphazardly stitched together, and then some sparse points of interest like scripted encounters or chests are dotted about. Every 20 steps or so you’ll have a miserable little scrap, and then walk another 20 steps into nothing.

In many DRPGs dungeon maps are filled out with detail as you explore, but not in Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era. In this game you will either have invested enough guild points into the thieves guild to enter the dungeon with a pre-drawn map, or you’ll stumble upon a map pickup. The map meets the bare minimum of functionality, it doesn’t fill out with detail but it shows you where you are. You could put together your own maps to keep track of finer details like chests, encounters, or other notable features. This is something many DRPG fans enjoy actually. Is it worth the effort for this game? No.

Extensive exploration can net you more materials, equipment, and experience. The issue is that, at least in my experience, I was never short on any of these. And outside of necessity there is no incentive to find new equipment, it’s all flat stat changes, it’s never interesting. I upgraded my equipment and cooked meals as and when I had the resources. When I didn’t have the resources, I didn’t go out to find them because I didn’t need to and certainly didn’t want to. I was constantly asking myself: where’s the fun? And the answer was always: there isn’t any, just get back to the story.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Kay Catching Fish

Pretty Pictures, Ugly Environments

On a more positive note, Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era’s visuals are mostly quite nice. There are some fun character designs on show. I enjoyed Aife’s design in particular. It’s nothing novel, he’s a massive dragon man, but I found the bizarre contrast between him and his much smaller sister Ashley really entertaining. It’s so brazen that I have to assume it was intentional. We’ve all seen the male-female orc aesthetic dichotomy, and this is that taken to the extreme.

2D art assets are uniformly solid. Background art can lean a little generic, but it’s executed well enough. Characters are colorful and pop well on screen. There are some issues with anatomy, but it’s an eroRPG. An eroRPG with no anatomy woes would almost be unsettling. Menus are the only element of the 2D visuals I have more than a minor issue with. They look and feel cheap, you’ve seen menus like this hundreds of times before (assuming you have similar unhealthy playing habits as me).

Things take a turn for the worse in the visual department with the 3D environments you’ll be spending most of your time exploring. Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era is of course more of a budget title, I’m not expecting high-fidelity 3D work here. The issue is that these environments are lacking in the art direction department. It’s a muddy monotone, with only a few environments that try to break the mold. And indeed they try, but it doesn’t land. Some of the more potentially interesting environments are let down by a lack of quality and variety.

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era - Carrying Ashley

Stock Sounds

Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era comes with full Japanese voice acting. The voice work is well done, but I can’t say I was blown away by any of the performances. The mix lets down some of the voice work too. There are some notable differences in volume between characters owing to, I assume, inconsistent recording equipment. The default settings for audio were a bit off for my setup, your mileage may vary. I had to turn the BGM way down so as to not blow my ears out.

Speaking of the BGM, Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era has a large but unremarkable OST. There are no bad tracks, though you’ll be hearing the same dungeon themes over and over for hours so they do become grating, but there aren’t any great tracks either. If you want a preview of the soundtrack: imagine the standard Japanese indie fantasy RPG score and you’re at least in the ballpark. The soundtrack is, in a word, inoffensive.

Stop Squelching

So how about the “ero” part of this eroRPG? Well, it’s pretty good. There are a total of 63 sex scenes spread across the game with a mix of vanilla and more edgy scenes. Generally, scenes you unlock through character romances and quests will be vanilla and lighthearted, whilst what the game calls “assault scenes” will generally be unlocked when you lose key fights. An option is included to skip these “assault scenes” altogether which is nice. Of course, as with many eroRPGs, your time spent viewing these scenes against gameplay is minimal. The eroge elements are here, and 63 scenes is a lot, but the 100+ hours of gameplay surrounding them has a minimizing effect.

The scenes themselves feature some of the Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era’s best artwork, anatomy aside. This JAST release comes fully uncensored, and it’s a good uncensor too. I do think scenes are a little lacking in creativity and setup. There’s a lack of niche appeal and the vanilla scenes in particular feel rather indistinct. The script is solid though. I tend to find dialogue in H scenes is always somewhat embarrassing, and whilst this game is no exception to that, at least it’s competently translated and written.

Some of the choices made in the sound department are interesting. The voice work is about what you’d expect, but the SFX is where things get weird. Take away the vocal track and visuals, and you’d be hard pressed to discern between a Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era H scene and Fruit Ninja. Squishing, squelching, slapping, it’s all there and it’s all far too loud. If you’re being generous you could perhaps call it interpretive. Who knows though, perhaps sex in a country with summertime temperatures in the high 30s sounds a little different, perhaps they incorporate industrial amounts of oil. Who am I to judge? I just hope the neighbors don’t mind.


Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era is a frustrating game. The narrative has some interesting ideas and worldbuilding, and it’s much better than the standard for eroRPGs. Unfortunately, the story isn’t really the focus here. Most of your time will be spent exploring the Dragonschaft, engaging with incredibly dull combat and progression. The mystique of the labyrinth is undermined by how boring it is to spend time in. The eroge elements are alright, but they’re definitely not worth the slog.

I didn’t enjoy the majority of my time with Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era. I don’t think many people are likely to enjoy it. Whilst I was fairly engaged with the story, and the translation team did an excellent job with the script, it was constantly interrupted by the tedium of the gameplay. If you’re looking for a DRPG, there are many better options. If you’re looking for an eroRPG, there are many better options. Even if you’re looking for a solid story set in an interesting fantasy world, there are many better options.


Platforms: PC
Purchase Link: JAST USA

If you are looking for another dungeon-crawling RPG, you may enjoy Dungeon Travelers 2.

Thank you to JAST for providing a PC review copy of Gears of Dragoon: Fragments of a New Era

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!