Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Backlog: Dragon's Crown

As much as I'm about to rail on this game, I do love the art.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding this game over the design of the Amazon and the Sorceress. That is an issue I may tackle at another time as it would be too long to discuss when I'm doing a simple review of the game. So the question is... is the game any good?

Yes and No. There are times where I question if the game even knows what it wants to do. The gameplay works well enough, it plays like a side scrolling brawler and the controls for which are virtually flawless. That is not even remotely one of my problems with the game. My problems all fall into some of the other rather odd design decisions.

The game is largely designed to be very multiplayer oriented in a way similar to say Borderlands where while soloing is entirely possible. The game overall is much more rewarding when played in a group setting. Yet you have to beat each of the 9 dungeons once before it opens online multiplayer, until then you can only play couch co op or use AI companions who are utterly useless because their skill points are spent at seemingly random, they're dumb as dirt in combat, and it scales the enemies strength up due to your party size. Meaning quite simply... AI companions make the game HARDER!

You may be thinking that makes no sense! Well here is how it works, the first 9 dungeons you access by using this magical gateway. After completing all of them the gateway spontaneously stops working so it sends you to a random dungeon out of your control. From then on you have to use the stables which allows you to access online mode and costs gold to use (Yeah it sounds bad but you always make way more gold then it'll cost to travel).

That's not even the final dragon. That's just a normal dragon.
Why do you need to redo the dungeons? To take the secondary route in the dungeon that leads to a different boss that gives you an artifact you need in order to battle the final boss. Which brings me to another thing you will hate if you are a trophy hunter like me. There is a trophy for beating the final boss in under 2 minutes on each of the three difficulties and they don't stack. To top it off if you fail to beat the boss in under 2 minutes you can not try again unless you gather all 9 of the artifacts all over again.

Now I understand why they do this, when you fight the Ancient Dragon it gives you like 8-10 S rank treasure chests and treasure always scales to your level. So I can see how that could be abused, but knowing that don't tie such an annoying trophy to beating it in under a certain time limit. Oh yeah and don't think you can get it by joining someone else's game. If you beat the boss in a game you aren't hosting you get 2 S rank chests and nothing about the fight effects your story progression.

You would think the simple solution would be the level grind and make it easy right? Wrong. Each difficulty has a level cap that it drags you down to if you're over it and it scales the enemies up to whatever level you count as being. This combined with the fact that most the skill upgrades are passive abilities you hardly notice makes leveling up feel rather... unfulfilling.

As for what I do like about the game? All of the characters do feel unique and play vastly different unlike many old school brawlers. The only real exception being the Sorceress and the Wizard playing fairly similar for the most part.

The sound is amazing. A lot of the music is wonderful and very much fits the fantasy setting (Some made me think of Everquest for some reason). The guild hall music is probably the most memorable.

The narrator basically narrates the story and the dialogue in a manner reminiscent of a Dungeon Master from Dungeons and Dragons which I really liked. It very much added to the atmosphere, unfortunately the story in general pretty much sputters out the minute you unlock the stables as the game encourages you to group up with people and marathon the dungeons.

Sorceress? I thought that was Jessica Rabbit in a witch hat.
Dragon's Crown is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. But it feels like the game just really wants me to keep playing it while offering me little incentive to continue to do so beyond beating the boss for the first time. Everything beyond that feels like too much time and energy I could be spending on another game.

Final Breakdown
Pros: Great Art, Wonderful Soundtrack, Awesome Narrator, Characters that feel unique, Boobs (If you're into that)

Cons: Leveling that feels pointless and padded, Annoying Trophy requirements, Your online group disbands if you go back to town instead of going to the next dungeon immediately, No voice chat (WTF?), Inability to fight the last boss with a random group (Literally only your friends can join you for that battle)

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