Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Dragon's Crown - Final Round Review


Dragon's Crown is a visually stunning sidescroller that takes place in an epic fantasy world filled with huge monsters, villainess characters and of course, Dragons.

The world of Dragon's Crown is lush and colourful, with a variety of locations to loot and destroy all the while being recounted by wonderfully appropriate narrator.  Each step you take is described by this delightful storyteller, who gives the game just as much life as the brilliant visual style.  Locations range between Orc infested subterranean strong holds, to lush forests with shadowy guardians; there is a fair amount of back tracking to be had during the adventure, but it is mostly forgivable simply because of how detailed and beautiful they backdrops are.

To begin your adventure you must first choose your hero, there are 6 to choose from but don’t have too much in the way of variety.  Each class does come with a choice of colour palette that adds a small level of individuality, especially for anyone planning to play online.  These classes all have their own small twist on the standard 3-hit-combos you see in most beat ‘em up title, but end up feeling too similar to each other, which edges out some replayability.  The Elf is, by far, the most interesting of the lot as she has fast melee attacks and a bow for ranged attacks as well; the magic users are almost exclusively ranged, and the melee characters are restricted to only hand-to-hand combat.

One of the first problems that will arise is the lack of abilities or unlockable combos; everyone gets a standard combo attack by mashing square, and a specialty attack with circle.  The Fighters’ special is absolutely useless, unless its power is upgraded and even then you are lucky to hit anyone with it, and what’s worse is your weapon remains stuck in the ground for a period of time.  The loss of weapons effects the melee classes exclusively, and is an incredibly pointless addition to the game; special abilities lose your weapon, being stunned will lose your weapon, being hit to hard will lose your weapon, and every time there is a cool down that leaves you fighting off your enemies with your incredibly weak fists.

There are upgrades to be purchased as well as Armour and loot to be found on your adventures, which add to the RPG feel of the game, but the only item that actually changes when equipped is your weapon (or shield) while the rest of your armour remains the same.  The amount of new abilities to unlock is rather scarce; upgrading attacks, health, and other attributes are surprisingly abundant though as each upgrade has multiple levels to put your hard earn gold into.  Unfortunately the lack of new skills does add to the issue of similarity between classes and other players as they fight identically with the same class.

You have two companions that are always with you, who get in the way more than they help; the Rogue unlocks doors and chests for you (why you have to wait for him and could not just do it yourself is beyond me), while the fairy tells you where secrets are (or everyone chest and door in front of you by sitting in your way).  To add to the mayhem, you are able to have three more companions tag along on your trip. 

 Accidentally leaving your party empty is far too easy to do as your party resets every time you finish a missions.  They can sometimes show up half way through a mission but that is not a reliable option.  This also bothers me, as a somewhat solo player being teamed up without my approval can get annoying.  When you plan ahead and bring along the people you want it can be an epic experience.

Through Dragon's Crown you will obviously encounter monsters and magical creatures to put to the sword, while there the standard offering of Orcs, Goblins and Skeletons, the ferocious bosses are where the best combat lies.  Beasts from the deepest depths of the ocean will come for you, tearing your ship down as you fight back against what seems like a hopeless scenario.  Death itself will swing its scythe for you, forcing you and your party to bring every ounce of courage you can muster see the sun once more.  Minotaur’s will try to drag your broken body down into the dark resting place of so many other poor souls before you, and crushing each and every one of the under your mighty boot as so damn rewarding.

Dragon's Crown offers a fifty/fifty experience; on one hand the combat is easy to pick up and play, but it gives little in the way of deeper gameplay for an experienced beat ‘em up player.  The enemies are fantastic and wonderfully creative, but you will be facing off against these foes to grind experience to even compete with the next demon.

As a PlayStation Vita title it rests well in the short burst, pick up and play style which seams to be the direction the game was originally headed (exclusively too).  As for the PlayStation 3 version, it may look nicer on your big screen but it doesn't have the deeper gameplay we have come to expect.

PSV Final Round Rating - 7.5
PS3 Final Round Rating - 6 

- Will Flynn

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