Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dragon's Crown Pro Review (PS4)

Despite likely being best known in the mainstream for the controversy surrounding the exaggerated assets of its female characters, 2013’s Dragon’s Crown also had some pretty fantastic beat-em-up gameplay underneath those wonderfully thick thighs and ridiculous breasts. Now in 2018 the game comes to PlayStation 4 in the form of Dragon’s Crown Pro with even better looking visuals, now in 4k, and the awesome co-op gameplay intact. There isn’t really any new content in this remaster, unfortunately, which may upset existing fans of the PS3 or Vita versions of the game, but if you’ve never experienced Dragon’s Crown before, Dragon’s Crown Pro on PS4 is definitely the version to get. Continue reading our full review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Vanillaware
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Beat-Em-Up
  • Pros: Great art style; nice visuals; solid gameplay; co-op; addictive loot system
  • Cons: Using the cursor during gameplay; nothing new over PS3 version
  • MSRP: $50
Buy Dragon's
Crown Pro at Amazon
Dragon’s Crown is a fantasy beat-em-up / action RPG that sees you becoming a hero in a medieval kingdom by punching, slashing, stabbing, and magic casting your way through hordes of beasts. You can play as a sorceress, wizard, elf, amazon, fighter, or dwarf as you seek out the mythical Dragon’s Crown in order to save the kingdom of Hydeland.

Gameplay takes the form of a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up where you and your party travel from left to right and kill any and every enemy that dares appear onscreen. Each of the different character types has unique weapons and skills and all really do feel unique and fun to play in different ways. You have basic attacks (that differ based on weapon type, of course), air attacks, ground pounds, slide attacks, magic attacks, and more at your disposal. You can use magic rings or scrolls so non-magic characters can cast spells as well, and there are also weapon pickups for crossbows, bombs, and other temporary weapons to help you fight through each stage.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, though, the actual moment to moment combat in Dragon’s Crown is pretty stiff and clunky feeling. Characters have a limited range and can only attack enemies on relatively the same plane onscreen as they are, which can get a little frustrating. It can also be difficult to tell exactly what is going on as your character can get lost in a sea of special effects and flailing enemies (and allies) during hectic moments. Of course, these are complaints that apply to pretty much every beat-em-up ever, so you kind of expect them when you play a game like this, but it is a little disappointing that Dragon’s Crown doesn’t do more to fix them. Don’t misunderstand, though, the game is still a total blast to play even if it is a little stiff and clunky.

As your character levels up you also earn skill points that you can use to unlock new moves, abilities, and upgrades. The best part of the game, however, and what makes it so addictive and fun to play, is the huge amount of loot you discover as you play each stage. You’ll find new weapons, stat boosting accessories, and much more as you play. I have to admit, I love seeing numbers go up in RPGs, so chasing down new loot so my XP and damage and defense numbers creep ever upward is very addictive and expertly handled here in Dragon’s Crown Pro.

You also come across the bones of slain adventurers that you can take back to the church in town and have them resurrected. These resurrected characters can then be added to your party as A.I. partners, which is very cool. Beat-em-ups are always more fun in multiplayer co-op, so having the option to have A.I. partners if you don’t have anyone around to play with is absolutely fantastic. If you’d rather play with real people as partners, you can play local co-op as well as online with friends or random players. In a great move, online is cross-play with existing PS3 and Vita players, so you should always be able to find folks to play with.

It has to be said, though, that Dragon’s Crown is a surprisingly small and grindy experience. There are only a handful of levels available – though they do get an additional “B” route midway through the game, essentially doubling the level count – and they are all pretty short and only take minutes to complete. The idea is that you play the same levels over and over again to collect new loot and level up. There is quite a bit of variety, however, as the levels are full of hidden treasures and secret rooms to find and explore. You also have lots of optional side missions that task you with doing unique things within the levels, which add some variety as well. Plus, it’s always fun to play through old levels with new toys. When you put all of this together, the game never feels overly repetitive even though it is undeniably compact, which is a testament to how well the game is designed overall. Also, while the came is short and compact, you can still easily spend dozens of hours with it through thorough exploration and having fun in co-op.

The one gameplay complaint I have is that the game requires you to use an onscreen cursor to accomplish certain tasks. Using either the right stick, or the Dual Shock 4 touch pad, you move a cursor around to have your party’s thief unlock doors, open chests, or examine suspicious walls and other things. This blows. It always feels awkward and unresponsive and is just awful, but it is required in order to open chests or find secret passages. I’m not a fan.

Dragon’s Crown Pro on PS4 is a remaster of the original release on PS3 and Vita with sharper visuals (up to 4k if you’ve got the hardware) and a newly recorded orchestral version of the soundtrack. It doesn’t have any other new content, however – no new bosses, no new levels, no new content of any sort – so if you’ve already invested dozens of hours into the original release there isn’t really anything new here, which makes it hard to justify buying at the full $50 MSRP. If you’ve never played Dragon’s Crown before, however, there isn’t really any reason not to get Dragon’s Crown Pro. It looks and sounds better and is an awesome game to begin with.

Presentation-wise, Dragon’s Crown Pro is absolutely fantastic. The 2D hand drawn characters and dungeons are sharp and beautiful and the animations for allies and enemies alike are smooth and wonderfully done. I also really, really love the art style. Yes, the female characters are overly exaggerated and “too sexy” in these overly PC times we live in, but I love it anyway. The sound is well done as well with great voice work for all of the characters and both the original and new orchestral soundtracks are fantastic.

All in all, Dragon’s Crown Pro is a fantastic beat-em-up / action RPG that shouldn’t be missed. There isn’t any new content for existing owners, which makes it hard to justify buying the game again, but the good news is that the game features cross play between PS4, PS3, and Vita so last-gen owners can enjoy the influx of new players without having to buy the game again. For new players who haven’t played Dragon’s Crown before, there is no reason not to pick up Dragon’s Crown Pro if you have even the slightest interest in beat-em-ups and love co-op games. Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher