Find some com­pany for this fan­tasy dun­geon brawler

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - REVIEW - @DaMisan­thrope

The clue is in the ex­tra word at the end of the ti­tle. If you’ve al­ready en­joyed hack­ing and slash­ing your way through Vanillaware’s fan­tasy ar­cade brawler on PS3 or PS Vita, your only in­cen­tive for dou­ble-dip­ping is if you have both a PS4 Pro and 4K TV to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­tra sump­tu­ous res­o­lu­tion – fit­ting for a game with scenes you could imag­ine framed on a wall. Of course, whether you’d want to hang this up would de­pend on your taste. If Dragon’s Crown’s ex­ag­ger­ated art style was a turn-off in 2013, then a 4K coat of paint and a new or­ches­tral score won’t change your mind. Yet it’s clear that, hu­mon­gous chests asides, the game rev­els in ex­cess, from the dizzy­ing num­ber of en­e­mies flood­ing the screen to the piles of loot you’ll be scoop­ing up each ses­sion.

Vanillaware has looked to mod­ern RPG rather than ar­cade sys­tems to en­sure re­playa­bil­ity for its nine stages. You’ve got six dif­fer­ent classes of char­ac­ter to choose from, from a fierce ama­zon to an el­ven archer to a very well-en­dowed sor­cer­ess, and lev­el­ling and loot drops mean they are con­stantly pro­gress­ing with new stats and gear-grant­ing buffs (or de­buffs), while quests pro­vide in­cen­tive for re­vis­it­ing stages. The lat­ter can go beyond ‘kill x amount of y’ to ac­tu­ally un­cov­er­ing se­crets that make the game less lin­ear than you might ex­pect. This is re­in­forced late in the game, when it tran­spires that every stage ac­tu­ally has a sec­ond harder path and a sec­ond boss.


But even with this ap­par­ent depth, once the screen real es­tate goes to hell, you’re still mostly mash­ing ei­ther r or e un­til every­thing is dead and you can see again. Not that there aren’t at­tempts to mix things up, such as the Cat­a­combs’ spec­tral en­e­mies or res­cu­ing maidens who also need to be pro­tected from the vam­pire bosses at the end. But, as can be the case in the brawler genre, things quickly get repet­i­tive. Even if you’re de­ter­mined to play as every char­ac­ter class to un­lock their end­ing, you’ll still have to go through the same quests all over again.

To that end, the rinse-and-re­peat game­play is likely more en­joy­able when you have friends in the same room. That said, lo­cal mul­ti­player isn’t with­out draw­backs, as story pro­gres­sion is lim­ited to just one player, while shar­ing a screen means trips back to town can make for a long wait while you take it in turns to sort through loot. Un­locked in the late game, on­line mul­ti­player also con­tin­ues to have load­ing be­tween mov­ing from one screen to the next, while still sus­cep­ti­ble to in­put lag. For­tu­nately, if you’re pick­ing up Dragon’s Crown Pro for the first time to play with friends on­line who still have the PS3 or PS Vita ver­sion, cross-play has been en­abled across all three plat­forms. Now that’s a way to bring peo­ple to­gether.


Once chaos and dam­age num­bers start fly­ing, it’s hard not to get lost amid the ac­tion.


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