There once was a time where traversing through a stage in a linear fashion, knocking out enemies along the way, and tackling down some serious boss fights was the corner-stone of gaming culture. Beat-em up styled games such as Double Dragon, and Streets Of Rage were the cult classics of their generation. But, as the years have gone by the way games are madeÂ has changed drastically. Focusing more on aesthetics than function, multiplayer than single player. This has resulted in more flops than classics that will stand the test of time. Will the aesthetically exaggerated adventure of Dragons Crown revitalize the genre of beat-em up? or will it get passed over Â by some generic shooter.
Now I’ve always been very big on story when I play a game. An interesting story usually is what sells me on a game. But, when I loaded up Dragons Crown I wasn’t expecting much from a beat em-up centered game. Beat-em ups have never really been about the story, its more about the gameplay. So I thought I was getting into another linear adventure like Dungeons and Dragons Mystira, and for that part Dragons Crown met that story standard.
The story is pretty generic, the world is in danger of an ancient threat reawakening, and through crazy circumstances you’re tasked with saving the world.Â The main quest line for the most part in Dragons Crown is pretty simple and not too deep. But, it is a hardcore story filled with tons pop culture references that most gamers can appreciate. The best reference by far that had me bawling over was the “Killer Rabbit” boss fight. For fans of Â Monty Python this boss will be intense, as it lives up to the “Killer Rabbit’s” reputation in the movie. There are some other small little things most people will pick up on. But, it is best that I leave them hidden to you so you’re able have that “yooooo thats!” moment that I had.
The main quest line will take about 10-20 hours to complete on the normal difficulty depending on how engrossed you become with the side quests, and trust me you want to do the side quests. They add a large chunk of story told through pieces of artwork you acquire as secondary rewards. Little things such as knowing the history of your guild master really goes a long way in making the story of Dragons Crown worthwhile.
But, the only way to appreciate the story is to create character and get out there to smash things! You can choose to play as either statuesqueÂ fighter, a brawny acrobatic dwarf, a raging amazon, a secretive archer, a bustful sorceress, or dark a sorcerer. Each other substantially different from their counterparts visually and functionally. Every character has role they excel at and a difficulty in place to master it. For example the fighter character is the most welcoming in his combat capabilities and stats, where as the archer is more difficult because of her stats, and complex do to her having access to both range and magic abilities.
Through careful character building by specializing in specific skills via the skill upgrading system and equipping the right gear. You can bring out the full potential of any given character of your choice regardless of their learning curve to suit you. You can turn your fighter to a heavy crowd controlling tank or your sorceress into powerful enchanter who empowers her teammates with buffs.
The customization available is pretty in-depth and intense. It took several attempts for me to get the right build I wanted for my dwarf character before I felt comfortable with his play style. You’re gonna wanna spend some time reading up on your chosen characters abilities before you reckless allocate skill points to skills you might not even use in the long run.
The time I spent playing through Dragons Crown was definitely worth it. Especially since I was able to enjoy with a close group of friends. Dragons Crown shines when played in company. You create genuinely hilarious experiences, and outrageous ones simply by just adding a second sword to your party. But, it is hard to get a group of friends to take a break from their everybody lives to come over and crack out on a game for hours now a days. VanillawareÂ has you covered though.
You can easily adventure with your friends and complete strangers through the games online multiplayer feature; and if you don’t have friends they still got you covered. By picking up bones of fallen adventures in your journey you can resurrect them at the town’s church for a price. You can then easily assign your new buddies to your party to fit your needs. But, by adding more adventures to your party you do increase the difficulty of the bosses from what I’ve noticed, so keep that in mind.
But even once you cleared Dragons Crown there is still a ton of stuff to do. If you’re a completionistÂ you can aim to complete Dragons Crown on its substantially harder difficulties “hard” and “inferno”. Each one raising the level cap of your character, and the difficulty as well the fight patterns of bosses; and if you still have that Dragons Crown itch you can prove your might in some PVP action.
Aesthetically Dragons Crown is untouched in the beat-em up genre. The exaggerated art style of female and male characters, bosses, monsters, and dungeons are insane. With a perfectly selected voice acting crew backing the art style as well. The likes of Patrick Steiz and Unsho IshizukaÂ bring life to their respective characters. Even the soundtrack is top-notch and over the top. By far the Castle Of The Dead theme song is my favorite and deserves some listening to when you unlock the stage. Of course the aesthetics of Dragons Crown will be viewed as suggestive, and outright offensive to certain people. But, this is a game developed by specific team from a specific culture that focuses on being over the top; and that has to be kept in mind when examining an art style such as Dragons Crown.
But despite all these pros, Dragons Crown does come with a few flaws worth mentioning. This being a beat-em up Dragons Crown does suffer from being very repetitive after a certain point. You’ll eventually get bored if you’re playing alone for long periods of time, that’s why I recommend playing with others when the opportunity arrives. This will lift the repetitive behavior all beat-em ups put you through.
The PVP mode is pro and a con. Though it’s great to go and smash your friends, and random strangers. The mode still needs balancing work done to it. Specifically the hit stun on attacks. Whenever you hit an opponent it simply does damage but doesn’t cause knock-back or stun. This makes it harder for the slower characters to compete against the faster characters in combat.
Be that as it may, Dragons Crown is still an awesome beat-em up experience. The exaggerated art-style, soundtrack, voice acting, and gameplay aid in making Dragons Crown its own unique beat-em up that stands tall. Dragons Crown definitely is breath of fresh air in a genre that has essentially died over time. Since games such Devil May Cry, God Of War, and Bayonetta have taken the style of gameplay to a different level. If you’re looking for a summer hit to spend gaming with your friends, or to just beat some monsters up in your spare time. Dragons Crown is definitely a game you don’t want to pass over as it will give a perfect old school beat em-up experience that made games like Double Dragon, and Streets Of Rage stand the test of time in our lives.
+ Awesome Gameplay
+ Fantastic Art-style
+ Long Term Replayability
– Repetitive Gameplay
– Unbalanced PVP
Publisher(s): Atlus (NA), NISA (EU)
System(s): PS3, PS Vita
Price(s): PS3 $49.99, PS Vita $39.99