Vanillaware is back with another masterpiece 2D game following the success of Odin’s Sphere and Muramasa: Demon Blade.
Game: Dragon’s Crown
Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation Vita
Developer: Vanillaware, Atlus
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Genre: 2D Adventure
Version Reviewed: Playstation 3 Retail
Dragon’s Crown is everything a 2D beat-em-up game should be. In short, Dragon’s Crown has amazing hand drawn artwork and fast paced action with the typical fantasy setting. It’s just like what Diablo III would’ve been if it is 2D and didn’t have the “always online” policy. The game gets challenging fast on Normal but nothing so hard that a backtracking dungeon trip can’t handle. On higher difficulty, it is a lot more serious. There’s a pretty deep skill tree similar to that of Elder Scrolls games and you’ll acquire completely unique loot every stage much like Borderlands.
Graphics are gorgeous. Artwork is really good. Animation is very fluid. Vibrant colors, beautiful landscape, and top notched shading will make this game look fresh for generations to come. The character designs are questionable but they appear the way they are for a reason. The reason being that it references other fantasy games pointing out the cliche of the genre’s character design. The first few bosses look ok but the later bosses really lives up to Muramasa’s standards.
The sound and background music is alright. It’s standard Vanillaware quality. Japanese voice dubs are available but only for the character voices and not for the game’s narration. Different narrative voices are available for DLC free of charge. There are no cut scenes nor do I expect any in this sort of game.
Multiplayer works really well. You can drop in mid dungeon while online and in town while playing local. I have no complaints for online because works smoothly with zero lag. Because of the drop-in drop out nature, I don’t really expect players to stay around for too long in the first place. There are no “bad” players in the online community. From my experience, everyone cooperates like they should. A lot of players are very patient, willing to wait if you need to complete something in map or side quest. Multiplayer makes the entire game experience smoother and is recommended to play it like so. Don’t worry, experience and loot is not split; it is shared equally so having more players around is actually better. Note that there is no online pass needed to play online multiplayer.
If co-op is not your taste, there’s a versus mode called Colosseum which is also works local and online interchangeably. While the battles themselves are simple 4 player free-for all, it’s still a fun alternative to dungeon crawling.
When playing alone, you have some NPC’s joining your party along the way. Fortunately, the AI isn’t as bad as other games. You will start to notice them weakening as the game progresses which prompts you to recruit higher level characters. Playing the game completely solo is pretty difficult but you will have to get around to it on specific side quests.
Dragon’s Crown has minimal load times even without installing it. There is plenty of replay value. The game isn’t just mindless button mashing as playing with different characters helps you get familiar to different play styles. Furthermore, attempting some 50 side quests help keeps the game interesting. Clearing the game with all classes, clearing all side quests and max leveling each character will take some time.
The storytelling is generic and unnecessary but is probably Atlus’ condition when they took on the project. The narrator’s voice gets pretty repetitive over time and I would like a future patch giving the option to turn it off. The point and click system could use a lot of work. Not only is it out of your way, but I find myself missing my click target more often than not and is mandatory in some sequences. Thankfully, the game is more forgiving on eligible click targets. Perhaps the touchpad on the Vita version works better.
Cross play feature is something I would’ve like in this game. Both the PS3 and PS Vita games are virtually identical. Implementing cross-play and cross-buy like Playstation All-Stars did would’ve helped the Vita’s current situation.
Overall, it’s a very satisfying adventure with the style of classic games and superior multiplayer options.
Replay Value 9/10
Overall Rating 8.5/10
Personally I feel like giving an overall score of 9.5/10 and it gets better with more people. Definitely buy if you’re into the fantasy genre with beat-em-up play style or just a fan of Vanillaware. Otherwise it looks to be a game that can be purchased at a discount if you wait long enough.
Thanks for reading and look forward to another article covering tips and tricks around Dragon’s Crown.