Dragon’s Crown is a marriage of two different and beloved genres: its one part old-school beat em’ up and one part in-depth RPG. Couple that with unparrelled art design and what you’ve got is one of the most captivating and beautiful games available on any handheld.
Dragon’s Crown sees you looking for said crown that is believed to allow the processor power over the ancient dragons. After a recent failed expedition, the king has called upon you to finally obtain the crown. It’s from here you experience a rather cliché but enjoyable story. It’s nothing that begs you to come back and receive the next cut-scene but characters are well detailed and the narration is pretty good.
What will draw you in though are the visuals which you will notice immediately. If you are familiar with this art style, chances are you’ve encountered or seen a Vanillaware game in the past. Nobody makes art as beautiful in a game like these guys. It’s truly remarkable seeing this game run on a PlayStation Vita with the stunning oil-like colours just jump out at you on the screen.
Gameplay will be very familiar to those that have played the 2D beat em’ ups of old. If you’re a Golden Axe or Streets of Rage fan, this may pique your interests more than you might think as you could only wish those games looked as good as this. Where nostalgia might lure you in, it’s the depth of everything else that will keep you invested.
Dragon’s Crown utilises the gameplay mechanic of loot-driven gameplay. The entire game is spread across just nine levels and you will need to replay through them again and again if you want to complete all the side-missions but it’s the constant drop of loot that will keep you hooked. It’s not as generous as games like Diablo III or even Borderlands too but every ten minutes you should have about a dozen weapons and items to appraise which you need to do in order to find out its stats or just sell it.
The appraising of weapons is a simple but intriguing little mechanic. When you collect loot, you can see the grade of it and who can use it but nothing else. You must decide whether it’s worth your hard earned gold to see what’s under those question marks or sell it and build up your gold to buy something down the road.
Gameplay is fast, simple, and frantic. You use one button to jump, one to attack, one to use a special ability and your standard block and dodge. You can jump online with up to three other players or three computer controlled characters. These computer controlled characters can be recruited by finding a stack of bones in any of the levels. You must then visit a temple to resurrect them and you can then find them in the tavern. As you progress further into the game, the AI companion’s levels will increase and therefore you must replace you previous allies meaning there’s no reason for attachment; just let them go.
As I’ve mentioned, Dragon’s Crown’s visuals are art-design in spectacular but it isn’t perfect; espiecially in its portrayal of women. Sure the male characters are idealistic versions of men with massive frames and muscles but it’s not sexualised in the case of women which has their breasts almost fall out of their top as the sorceress or been seen in cut-scene in compromising positions. It doesn’t ruin the game but it does take away some of its enjoyment.
Dragon’s Crown on Vita looks fantastic and plays just as well. The screen and combat can become incredibly hectic but the frame-rate holds up and stays thoroughly fun all the way through. Each character feels completely different and warrants a playthrough each meaning it’s a game with a much higher playtime than you might expect when you first jump in. You got a Vita? Get Dragon’s Crown!