Published on August 6th, 2013 | by Lucy Niess, Reviews Editor
Dragon’s Crown Review
Do you like playing Dungeons and Dragons? Do you like role-playing games? Were the answers to these questions so simple that you are amazed that we even asked them? If the answer was yes, then Dragon’s Crown is the game for you. Brought to us by Vanillaware and ATLUS, this side-scrolling RPG is mega fun to play, especially with friends.
Platform: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita
Release Date: August 6, 2013
A code was received for review purposes.
Right off the bat, you are able to choose a character from the list of your typical D&D characters. Available characters are the fighter, ranger, amazon, wizard, sorceress and dwarf. Input your name and customize your character with different colors and even phrases they can say when dying or being resurrected. How I played it was with a group of friends, so each one of us was a different character. In our team, we had the ranger (myself), wizard, amazon and sorceress.
Because there are so many characters to choose from, the dynamics of the team differ and players can choose the character that is right for them; If you like to be the tanky, bigger character, be the fighter; If you like all-powerful magic, be the wizard or sorceress. I often favor ranged characters and always played a ranger in D&D campaigns, so naturally the elf ranger was an easy choice.
After going through the character select and a short tutorial, the game begins with everyone controlling their character. The first gripe is how long it takes to start the actual game with everyone in it. If you are playing solo, then this process will go relatively smoothly. However, if you are playing with others, it just lags. The tutorial only allows the first player to go through and it does not allow other party members to experience it.
For the sake of pacing, it was a good thing. However, the tutorial could have been integrated into the game itself, and let the players figure things out via normal game process — possibly an intro level where all of the players involved can get their feet wet and press some buttons. This would have been a better teaching tool than just allowing one player only to go through it.
The gameplay can be seemingly complicated at first, and takes time to master. You are thrown into a simple level with basic controls including dash, jump, physical attack and ranged attack. At first, button mashing is a nice tool to flesh things out. Playing as the ranger, my character hits quick, with many times attacks landed, and has her bow that she can charge the arrows for more damage.
Without going into too much detail about the levels, the movement is very simple. You move in one direction and can use the right analog stick to move a little hand around to find hidden treasure. A little thief follows you and your party around and will open some chests for you for more treasure. Opening treasure chests adds to your score at the end and even those are ranked. The ranking system goes from E to S, a standard in many role-playing games. So, naturally, the better the treasure rank, the higher quality treasure and the better score at the end. Simple, yes?
Aside from treasures along the way, there are also items that may be dropped by enemies or hidden in boxes. These weapons are limited in usage, but some weapons like a stick on fire or bombs will help you defeat certain enemy types. A typical level takes you through rooms with different items and treasures to find. At the end of each level is a boss battle that will progress the story once that boss is defeated. Completing the level allows your character to gain experience, and can level up depending on how much bonus experience obtained.
At the beginning, you level up pretty quickly, gaining access to better weapons and armor. But then it starts to trail off, and you have to work more at the levels to gain more experience.
At the end of each level, you are able to take a look at the spoils throughout your adventure. These spoils need to be appraised in order for you to see what they are and what special properties they have. On the side, it will show you the rank of the spoil, who can equip it and if they have any special properties. Appraising it will cost gold, but in order to know what it does, you need to appraise it. As the game progresses, you can become very selective of what items to appraise and which ones to just sell for gold that is indicated next to the appraised price.
After reviewing the spoils, you are taken back to the town where there are many things you can do, including visiting the church to pray and receive a blessing that will help you in the levels, repairing weapons and armor, visit the adventurer’s guild for side quests or visiting the castle for some storyline. Specifically within the adventurer’s guild, you can spend skill points to give your character special moves. Every character is different, but you can build them in so many different ways.
Because of this element of customization, the replayability of this game is huge. You can play as many characters and build them however you want. Every adventure will be different for you, and could either be easier or tougher than previous ones. And as for the story, long story short, you are looking for the dragon’s crown before the world is thrust in darkness.
In all honesty, the story is secondary to the gameplay. Sorry to those who love story in a game. The plot progresses with long bits of dialogue between main characters including a princess, king, priest, guard and others and they could get pretty lengthy and, dare I say it, boring. It’s ironic because this game is D&D in video game form.
That is the basics of the levels and the town you return to every time. Overall, it is a fantastic game. The graphics for Dragon’s Crown is stunning. Playing it on a big screen high-def TV definitely enhanced the experience, although you could still play it on a regular TV.
There are so many colors going on that it really makes the game feel alive. The character design … oh man … it is hard not to picture the sorceress and her large … assets when thinking about this game. Plus, the muscular amazon for the guys and the elegant wizard for the ladies can be eye candy. There is a huge level of detail on the characters on every aspect, from the muscle definition to the details in the clothing and armor.
For a side scrolling game where the characters are typically small in size, the little details show that the developers put a lot of heart and soul into Dragon’s Crown and wanted to make the player feel like he or she is the fighter or the amazon or the wizard. The imagination of a human is so detailed and vast, so why shouldn’t a video game character be, even if they are small? The graphics shown in this game is more about the color and the small details that were able to be achieved in a limited amount of space.
My thoughts from EVO have changed slightly: The movement with the right analog stick became easier the more I played the game so it just took some getting used to. What was slightly confusing was keeping track of your character while in battle. The only thing you have to go off of is a little Sims-like icon on top of your character and it is so tiny that you could easily lose your character in the chaos and be punching air and not enemies. By playing it multiple times, I will probably get used to it.
Dragon’s Crown is for the D&D lover — only take out the story and just focus on the battles. The graphics are so vibrant and the battling/leveling up system is so addicting that you just want to keep on playing it. It was hard to get my friends off my PlayStation 3 because they just wanted to play all night.
The fights can be slightly confusing and chaotic and the story can drag on and be boring at times, but all in all it is a fun game to play with friends and by yourself. There are so many characters to play with and level up in different ways that it would take quite a long time to fully complete.
Worth picking up and playing with your friends
Summary: Dragon's Crown is a super fun and addicting game. Be prepared to be sitting in the same spot for a while because after defeating enemies and leveling up all the time, you will just want to become stronger and stronger until you are the superior being. Oh yeah, and strong enough to find and obtain the Dragon's Crown.