by Alex Layton
Back in 2008 Playstation 2 gamers were blessed with the game Odin Sphere, a hack n’ slash game made by Vanillaware. The game was greatly received overall, and in 2011 they announced their next project, Dragon’s Crown which was finally released in 2013 on Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita. Let me tell you, the wait was worth it. Dragon’s Crown blends hack n’ slash action perfectly with RPG-like leveling and stat building, resulting in a true homage to old school RPGs and action beat-em-ups alike.
If I had to choose Dragon’s Crown’s weakest point, the story would have to be it. Thats not me saying it’s bad by any means, but it definitely isn’t the most imaginative. You take up the role of one of the six adventures available to you and head out on your search for the sacred relic, The Dragons Crown. Throughout you’ll meet a hearty group of characters and even uncover conspiracies within the Kingdom. Overall the story is interesting, but seems to get in the way of the true meat of the game. That’s not to say that the characters are poorly portrayed. The voice actors for all the characters, as well as the narrator are very well done. It just seems that stopping to listen to the story puts a hold on the real fun, the gameplay.
This is where Dragon’s Crown shines, the gameplay is an almost perfect mix of RPG and hack ‘n’ slash elements. Each of the six characters plays differently than the others, and all have their own specific strengths, weaknesses and gameplay mechanics. For instance, The dwarf character relies heavily on picking up and throwing enemies, while the Fighter is defense based and can give other players defense and attack boosts by shielding them from enemies. The other classes are the Sorceress, a magic based support character, the Wizard, a magic based character set on destruction, the Elf, a quick bow wielding character and lastly the Amazon, a axe wielding woman that’s based around building her attack power and speed by landing hits consecutively. Combining these classes in multiplayer makes for very interesting, and on occasion downright chaotic, gameplay.
Another great aspect of the gameplay is leveling up your character. Each character has their own set of skills to level and advance throughout, allowing you to experiment a bit with your abilities. You could play the same character twice and have a completely different experience. The game also supports a hefty gear system, adding even more replay value, as you search for the best weapons and equipment for your character.
Even though I said that the gameplay is where Dragon’s Crown shines, the game’s graphics are absolutely incredible as well. This is to be expected from Vanillaware, a studio with a history of creating beautifully rendered 2D games. All the character models and environments are stunningly drawn and animated. I can honestly say I’ve not seen many games that look as good as Dragon’s Crown does.
The soundtrack is also a force to be reckoned with, boasting epic orchestras and wonderful voice acting. You are able to choose whether you want your character to speak in english or japanese when creating your character, a feature I know some purists will appreciate. Dragon’s Crown is one of the funnest games available for PS3, and also one of the best looking. I’d recommend this game for fans of arcade beat-em-ups and RPG fans alike.