PS3 Reviews: Dragon's Crown Review

Members Login: Register | Why sign up? | Forgot Password?

Dragon's Crown Review

More Game Info (Print This Article)

Graphics:

 

9.1

Gameplay:

 

9.3

Sound:

 

8.7

Control:

 

9.0

Replay Value:

 

9.0

Online Gameplay:

 

8.5

Overall Rating:       9.0

 

 

Publisher:

Ignition Entertainment

Developer:

Vanillaware

Number Of Players:

1-4

Genre:

Action/RPG

Release Date:

August 6, 2013

In viewing the gameplay of Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown from afar, one assumes it’s a straightforward albeit attractive side-scrolling brawler. We’ve seen plenty of gameplay footage and it’s reminiscent of old-school beat-‘em-ups of the past. If you’re old enough, you remember the days of Golden Axe and Dungeons & Dragons in the arcades, and you probably think you know what to expect. But you’ll soon find that Dragon’s Crown is a fantastic blend of action and role-playing, and it’s even prettier than you anticipated.

In an industry that strives to reach new levels of realism and authenticity with each passing day, it’s refreshing to see a return to beautiful 2D artistry. Just about everything you see in this game is meticulously and painstakingly designed. The animation is excellent and the special effects are gorgeous. It’s true that the character designs have received plenty of attention, and the Amazon and Sorceress are heavily exaggerated to the point of absurdity. But that is consistent throughout the visual presentation, as everything – including the male character models – is just way over-the-top. Everyone should appreciate this artistic effort.

The audio is another highlight, as we receive a competent and engaging narrator, who treats the script as one would a fairytale story. It works out perfectly because in truth, the game feels like a fairytale in every sense of the word. The soundtrack is pleasant without being especially impressive, as it’s missing a few harder-hitting tracks that give an edge to intense encounters. But that only allows the great special effects to shine. Every physical strike and magical spell is plenty satisfying, and the enthusiastic cries and grunts of the characters aren’t overdone. It all gels together very well; the sound balancing is almost as special as the graphical display.

As I said above, you might be fooled into thinking Dragon’s Crown is simply a side-to-side brawler, akin to Double Dragon or Streets of Rage. However, this content-laden adventure offers a lot more than a standard side-scrolling arcade experience. At the core beats the heart of a robust RPG, complete with levels, character statistics and progression, unlocked and purchased skills, tons of equipment (and even the necessity to keep that equipment in good condition), and ally recruitment. Not to mention the side quests, engaging storyline, and branching dungeons that add even more flavor.

Each character has a distinct play style, which means that even after completing the adventure, you might want to go through again as a different character. The game will tell you how challenging each fighter is to use; for instance, characters that are for “everyone” or for “normal players” are relatively simple. On the other hand, the magic-users (the Wizard and the Sorceress) are only recommended for expert-level players. The good news is that with a little practice, just about anyone can use all available characters. You also get a chance to see multiple fighters in action, as you can hit the battlefield with up to for party members.

Those allies can be controlled by friends sitting in the room with you, or you can let the AI help you out. It’s interesting to note that you can recruit partners online, but that feature must be unlocked; you actually have to play for about five hours before you can grab friends online. Still, I would recommend playing with someone by your side. This game is just begging to be enjoyed and appreciated via local multiplayer action, because I believe such action is best experienced with a friend or two. Like I said, you may remember playing those addictive side-scrollers in the arcades; weren’t they always more fun with a buddy?

Hopefully, you and your friends are RPG fans, too. Each character increases in level, has a host of stats that dictates his or her performance, and there’s even a central town hub. You can visit places like the tavern, where you can recruit warriors to fill out your party, and the Adventurer’s Guild to purchase skills and pick up extra quests. You can fast-travel to each location on your mini-map, so you can expedite the process. After finishing a quest, you might want to resurrect fallen warriors (the bones you pick up turn into allies in this fashion), repair your equipment, purchase and sell items and equipment, and check out the available abilities.

In short, in between missions, you’ll participate in rejuvenation and preparation steps that are familiar to any RPG veteran. You wouldn’t think this would fit a side-scrolling beat-‘em-up format but amazingly, it really does. You can revisit areas you’ve conquered to gain more valuable experience and pick up more treasure, and in a lot of ways, it starts to feel like dungeon-crawlers such as Diablo. It’s all about advancing your characters and locating rare treasure, all of which must be appraised after finding it on the battlefield. Here’s hoping the cost of appraisal doesn’t exceed the value of the item…!

The control is spot-on, and you can access extra items and spells with the directional pad. This is a little slower and takes some getting used to, but short of pausing the game (which wouldn’t fit the structure), I can’t think of a better way to add that necessary depth. There are a few shortcomings, though: Visibility can be an issue, as your characters can blend into each other and the enemies. You might lose track of your fighter quite a bit during an encounter with an oversized boss, for instance. Admittedly, that gets quite frustrating. Also, the AI isn’t very good, especially at lower levels. During the first few hours, you’ll have to deal with some pretty lame allies.

One could also argue that the story isn’t all that great, and I suppose the character designs could offend the easily offended. But the tongue-in-cheek nature of this fantasy environment outweighs all, and the beautiful artistry is such a huge bonus. As for the story, I’m not sure why some are complaining. It’s certainly better than most any game I’ve played that utilizes this type of gameplay. It can’t be compared to top-notch RPG narratives but this is a blend, remember? And the focus is squarely on the gameplay, which is diverse, responsive, and always, always fun.

Dragon’s Crown is an extremely well-constructed blend of old-school action elements and role-playing depth. It looks great, the gameplay is rewarding for the hardcore and accessible to newcomers, the control is rock solid, and the amount of content is worthy of the $50 price tag in my eyes. You can also pick it up for the Vita for $40, if you’re so inclined. The story isn’t exactly intricate (but it is charming) and visibility can be an issue, but other than that, the drawbacks are few and far between. It’s great fun by yourself or with friends and it never stops being entertaining. How many games can you really say that about?

The Good: Beautiful artistry, detail and animations. Great sound and a fitting narrator. Solid, responsive control. Mix of role-playing and action is perfectly managed. Accessible for the novice, yet satisfying to the veteran. Lots of content and replay appeal.

The Bad: The story isn’t all that amazing. Visibility during hectic battles can be a problem. Disappointing AI (but only at first).

The Ugly: “'Ugly' and Dragon’s Crown are like oil and water.”

8/5/2013 Ben Dutka

Put this on your webpage or blog:
Email this to a friend
Follow PSX Extreme on Twitter

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Google Share on MySpace Share on Delicious Share on Digg Share on Google Buzz Share via E-Mail Share via Tumblr Share via Posterous

Comments (24 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:20:34 PM
Reply

To be honest I think I'll be buying the OST before the game. Is it wrong that I seldom buy any games brand new?


Oh and thanks for the review, games like this remind me why I own Sony gaming products.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Temjin001
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:24:51 PM
Reply

Crap, is this one $50? Think I'll wait.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

To Be Decided
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:31:41 PM
Reply

This and Xillia tomorrow... man this is going to be hard choice into what to play first in this small 24 hour day period. Also great review.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:39:48 PM

Xillia is on its way to my hoose!!!!

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

To Be Decided
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:41:30 PM

I have the joy of driving to shop and then rush back home and stare at that beautiful statue.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:42:57 PM

Are you going to play as the dude or the chick?

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

jase52476
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:59:48 PM

If it weren't for Tales of Xillia coming out on the same day, would be getting this too.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

To Be Decided
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 11:04:07 PM

I also need to decide that but im leaning towards the girl since sword play. I always go with swords character since I was spoiled with Lloyd Irving in Symphonia back in the gamecube days. That was my character, so excited for the Symphonia remasters.


Last edited by To Be Decided on 8/5/2013 11:04:37 PM

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 11:08:39 PM

Me too, can't wait to get that JRPG feel in my veins again.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Gamer46
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:39:53 PM
Reply

The reviews I've read have all been great so I can't wait to play this. Really enjoyed Muramasa and want to support Vanillaware's efforts. I'm thinking I'll get the Vita version.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:42:09 PM
Reply

Sounds pretty awesome, may or may not be getting a review code for this one but I dunno if it could really hold my interest for long enough for that cost.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

cLoudou
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 10:57:47 PM
Reply

I want this too...*sobs

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Oxvial
Monday, August 05, 2013 @ 11:03:00 PM
Reply

Getting this one tomorrow :), thanks for the review Ben.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

ethird1
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 12:41:31 AM
Reply

This game is god. BOOBIES OMG WTFBBQ!!!

End of line.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Beamboom
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 4:35:51 AM
Reply

Oh wow... I never expected this. I fully though this were going to be a brainless brawler indeed.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

JackieBoy
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 5:23:43 AM
Reply

Good review, by which you got me all exhilirated for this title Ben. I might give it a try for the Vita, but I need to see few gameplays on YT first. Will need to check if I can afford this too, with Rayman Legends coming out this month and KZ:M next month. The later two are the priority though.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

CrusaderForever
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 9:58:07 AM
Reply

Fantastic review Ben! I wish I could buy this today :( I will definitely be picking this up in the next couple of months. Not sure what system to get it for though? This would sure look awesome on the Vita. Sounds like a unique experience that's for sure.

Sacred Citadel had some RPG elements as well like leveling up, loot, new stronger weapons and experience allocation and I loved that game. So this look like a much better Side Scroll RPG (SSRPG)!

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

PoopsMcGee
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 10:27:02 AM
Reply

Preordered! Picking this baby up for my Vita later today!

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

xenris
Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 10:35:23 AM
Reply

Going to pick this up now :D

I'm looking forward to jumping into co op with my friends tonight!

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Gamer46
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 @ 5:06:03 AM
Reply

Well, downloaded the Vita version off PSN and Ben's review is spot on. The game is fantastic, one of the best of the year. Games like this are all too rare these days so I really appreciate what Vanillaware has done here, also points for Muramasa: Rebirth. That team is quickly becoming one of my favorite developers.

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

letherclad
Thursday, August 08, 2013 @ 2:04:08 PM
Reply

My main problem is how clunky the coop is, only one person can use a shop or buy skills at a time and each person has to go into the adventurer's guild to accept the quests one at a time. Its kind of a pain that you have to watch each other flip back and forth comparing skills instead of doing it at the same time, I play with my wife and it seems like we get frustrated every time we are in the town. I am willing to overlook this because of how beautiful and fun the game is, its just frustrating that a couple of common sense changes could have improved the entire experience.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Oxvial
Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ 4:22:25 AM

I agree that's the only bad thing I see in the game it's funny how I didn't read a review that talks about this problem, they only focused on the Sorcerer bobs as negative >_>

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

berserk
Thursday, August 08, 2013 @ 5:21:01 PM
Reply

Great review , switching between dragon crown and xillia make these games even better .Tired of xillia , do a few dungeon run DC then once you had enough back in xillia and so on :)

Agree with this comment 0 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

iankhaneagle
Monday, August 12, 2013 @ 11:06:35 PM
Reply

i agree with you ben about how this game is as beautiful as it gets. GOTY candidate? never thought i would ever enjoy anything with any RPG element to it. 33 years old on a 25 plus year gaming odyssey and this is my first RPG taste that i have not spit out( ie returned to redbox). that said i royally stink at the tavern and working that system. i enjoy the crap out of its combat system and enjoying the chaos on screen. the only thing i roll my eyes at is the narrator. he just seems to be...going throgh the motions. i think they could have added a few more read-thrus and cuts scenes, they get repetitive especially the temple parts. i love this game for what it is. a slice of nostalgia, updated just enough with the RPG on a light dose to keep button mashers like myself from getting aggrevated with the RPG element. truth be told im still apprehensive about some RPG elements, but it feels like the next logical step that Golden axe would have taken. the only company who could have done this game better would be Arc work systems. this game is my definitive GOTY. why? it made a genre that no one loved anymore relevant again. just like catherine did.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Leave a Comment

Please login or register to leave a comment.

Our Poll

What do you think of the Destiny beta?
It's awesome! Can't wait for September!
It's only good, but I'm having fun.
Eh, it's okay, but I expected more.
It sucks, period.

Previous Poll Results