Dragon’s Crown Review: Fantastical Fun, While The Fun Lasts
Local multiplayer can be utilized from the start, but it’s a frustrating mess. With only one screen, it means each player must wait until the other person is finished with their shopping, upgrading, or equipment management before they can do it for themselves. Even worse, sidequests must be picked up by each player individually. That means if all four players want to play and reap the rewards of a specific quest, they have to enter the adventurer’s guild one at a time and accept the quest — and when they return, they must then each go into the adventurer’s guild again and turn the quest in.
Depending on how invested your friends are in the game, you could potentially spend more time in town equipping your character and waiting for your friends to equip theirs than you actually do using that equipment.
Inventory is shared, so local players must fight among themselves to decide who gets what. There is no online trading whatsoever, so you’ll have to earn all of your own loot.
However, the loot system is actually very interesting. Whenever you find a chest, you find an unidentified item with a rank. When you complete a level, you get a list of all of the loot that you found, but each item is covered with question marks to hide its stats. All you know about the item is what type of weapon or accessory it is, who can use it, and what its rank is.
You must then pay a fee to appraise the item to uncover its stats. Sometimes the item will be great and well worth the cost of appraisal, but other times it’ll be crap and you’ll be stuck with an item that you won’t use and must sell for less than the cost of appraisal.
As mentioned before, there are nine levels in Dragon’s Crown, each punctuated by a boss fight. After beating all nine the first time, you’re then tasked to play them again, but this time though a newly unlocked “B Path,” featuring harder enemies and a much tougher boss battle.
These boss fights make up what are easily the most exciting and unique bits of gameplay in Dragon’s Crown. There’s almost always a curveball thrown at you in each boss fight, whether it’s having to destroy eggs to stop another boss from hatching, or having to light and then protect special torches to expose the boss’s weakness, or even having to fight a boss the size of a tiny animal. The bosses in Dragon’s Crown never fail to amaze and excite.
Prior to release, much of the conversation about the visual style of Dragon’s Crown had been about the controversy surrounding the game’s depiction of women; most notably the Sorceress and Amazon. I think that’s a shame, because it takes the attention away from the fact that Dragon’s Crown is a stunningly beautiful game. Backgrounds feel like living water color paintings, character models are hand-drawn with painstaking detail, animations are super fluid, the spell effects are spectacular, and once again, the boss designs are some of the best you’ll find in video games.
Overall, I would recommend Dragon’s Crown, but would warn people that the game still does suffer from that age-old problem that faces all 2D beat-em-ups: repetition. The game has some other issues, including the strange decision to lock away online until you get through the first half of the game and the frustrating implementation of local co-op, but it’s easy to look past most of them because of the simple fact that the game is a lot of fun while it’s still fresh.
- Stunningly beautiful 2D artwork
- Combat system has a surprising amount of depth, especially for an arcadey 2D beat-em-up
- Each class has a very different style of play
- Incredible boss fights, especially once you reach the latter half of the game
- Very interesting and unique loot system that forces you to make tough decisions you wouldn’t have to make in other loot heavy games
- Extra difficulties and post-game content extend the game’s life substantially for those willing to stick with it.
- Bottom line is that the game is a lot of fun while the fun lasts
- While Vanillaware makes some admirable efforts to stop the game from feeling repetitive, it doesn’t totally succeed
- Only nine levels, and while those nine levels each have separate paths, the new paths are usually very short and don’t change much visually from the old paths
- Online play is locked until 5-7 hours into the game
- Local play is frustrating due to the lack of a split-screen in town to allow players to shop and pick up quests at the same time
- AI companions in single player can be frustratingly dumb
- Boring story
Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.