Vanillaware’s new title - Dragon’s Crown - has been getting a lot of attention ever since it was announced due to its art direction and promising gameplay. But now that it’s been released, are the ruins of Dragon’s Crown worth exploring?
Let’s start off with the story shall we; you’re an adventurer that has finally arrived at Hydeland, a place known to have fearsome dungeons and rare treasures. You meet your friend Rannie, a thief that aids you by unlocking doors, chests, and also picks up other treasures such as goblets and coins at the Tavern. Next you decide to join the local Guild in hopes exploring the surrounding areas by completing tasks.
After finishing your first guild quest you’re escorted to the royal chamber where you meet Princess Vivian and the Prime Minister Gustaf. They tell you that the royal sceptre has been stolen by a thief named Jommit. After you track him down and return the Royal Scepter you start to sense that things aren’t exactly as they seem to be.
Dragon’s Crown offers up six very unique character classes. Each class plays and feels completely different from one another having their own special abilities, fighting styles and characteristics. You have the Sorceress, Wizard, Dwarf, Amazon, Fighter and Elf. Upon selecting your character, you can then name him/her and change their color pallet. Each character is given five different color pallets to choose from along with either Japanese or English voice-overs. You can also type in a greeting message for when you join the room, resurrection message or even a dying will.
Each class has certain pros and cons – which you can read in-depth through our Dragon’s Crown Class Breakdown guide - and are ranked by how difficult they are to use. A quick tip is to have anyone new to side scrolling beat em’ ups take control of the Drawf or Fighter classes to learn the ropes.
When you are in the City of Hydeland there are many different places that you will be spending your time. You have the Dragon’s Haven Inn which allows you to select the character you want to play as. Next you have Morgan’s Magic Item Shop where you can buy tonics of all sorts such as healing, buffing or temporary scrolls for spells. You can also sell any of your unwanted gear or have items appraised or repaired here. The Adventurers Guild is where you can spend skill points to learn new abilities or spells. You can also accept up to five side quests at a time which grant you very nice art pieces for each one you complete.
The Castle is all mainly story quests, the Old Tower allows the purchase of items such as magic-imbued skill rings and runes to boost your stats and finally is the Canaan Temple; a resting place where you take the bones of fallen adventures and either pay money to give them a second chance in life or give them a proper burial – the latter option rewards the random chance of an item drop for the symbolic effort. You can also pray to one of the three weathered diety statues of Jula, Althena and Vernas and offer a gift to increase item drop chance in the next stage.
Dragon’s Crown contains a total of nine different stages all with their own unique boss at the end. Levels also contain a lot of hidden rooms and paths that you will find and unlock during one of the games many side quests. As you explore levels such as Ghost Ship Cove you will see sunken ships in the background, flooded caves and even be able to ride and search a ship during one point. Mages Tower will have you walking through the inside which contains a library and other instances where you will even be flying around the outside as you work your way up to the top or down to the bottom depending on which path you take.
After you get to a certain part of the story a second path will open up for each level that will lead you down a different path and to a different boss. When you get to this point each stage will now consist of two bosses and you can choose which one you want to fight against. While some of the enemy models are reused on different levels the bosses play completely different. They never use the same strategy twice so every time that you fight against them it feels just like the first encounter.
All the equipment you gained will be unknown to you until you appraise it either right after the mission or at Morgan’s Magic Item Shop. If you decide to continue on your journey you will also set up camp every now and then that turns the game into a very basic cooking mini game where you will have to cook your own stat-boosting food while adding ingredients and flipping it to keep it within a somewhat edible state.
Now let’s talk about the combat. When in combat you use the square and circle buttons to attack, square being the basic attack and circle being your special attack. Depending on which direction and if you hold the button down you will be able to do different attacks. You can also dodge by pressing the R1 button which really comes in hand during the latter part of the game. You will also find weapons such as torches, crossbows and knifes that you can use against your enemies. Certain beasts can also be knocked out and then mounted if you so choose.
Completing the game on its normal difficulty will unlock new modes such as the Coliseum and the Labyrinth of Chaos along side 2 instances of NewGame+ allowing you to continue through the stages all the way up to character level 99 – of course, the enemies will grown continuously stronger to compensate your own barrier-shattering advancements.
The Coliseum allows for PVP matches while the Labyrinth of Chaos will set you lose on a 9 floor randomly generated dungeon comprised of the stage’s main settings yet ridding your ability to prepare for a particular boss before it randomises whichever one you’ll eventually run into at the end of the road.It’s just a shame it lacks any cross-play features between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions. A lack of true microphone support is also a weight on the shoulder’s of the game’s eventual multiplayer replay value.
Dragon’s crown is as much of a landmark for action side-scrolling as Borderlands 2 was for the FPS genre. With its addictive loot system and level design, you will walk away after spending all day on it feeling like you have achieved something. Dragon’s Crown always rewards you for everything you do and that’s why it’s so hard to put down. Not only is the combat addictive and the loot system rewarding, but it’s one of the most stunning games I have ever seen; there will be times where you’ll pause just to take in your surroundings.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: The game is absolutely stunning and the music definitely fits the setting that the game is aiming for.
Gameplay – 5/5: You will be grinding for hundreds of hours and enjoy every minute of it with its deep loot system and addicting combat.
Innovation - 4/5: The art style is amazing but the way they portray some of the characters (mainly women) might be too much for some people.
Value – 5/5: For those of you that like grinding or for those of you that have been looking forward to this game for a long time now, you guys are going to get your money’s worth.
- Nate_b reviewed Dragon’s Crown on PlayStation 3 and Vita -