Dragon's Crown Review

Dragon's Crown presents itself as a simple beat-'em-up, but it's actually a surprisingly deep and action-packed role-playing game.

by

Dragon's Crown may look like a typical beat-'em-up on the surface, but once you sink your teeth into its character customization, equipment system, and wealth of side quests, it reveals itself as an action role-playing game trapped in the shell of a side-scrolling brawler. The compulsive loot hunting and brisk combat that drive Dragon's Crown have also fueled beloved franchises such as Diablo and Dungeon Siege, and there are gimmicks and activities that add variety to the traditional dungeon-crawling experience. Each character class is easy to control but tough to master, and with your ability to craft unofficial subclasses, there are plenty of play styles to experiment with.

The elf is a master with a bow, and lethally quick when unarmed.

It begins with the story of the titular Dragon's Crown, the lost artifact rumored to give the possessor power over ancient dragons. When the king of Hydeland Kingdom fails to return from his search for the crown, you're employed to seek his whereabouts. This is all the setup you get, and after a few scripted story sequences, the story flattens out. The royal family of Hydeland faces typical medieval challenges, such as backstabbing and reconfiguration of power, and though it's their story that gets the ball rolling, their troubles don't rule over your free time for long.

Eventually, it's your desire to fight, develop your character, and discover rare and powerful treasure that keeps you going, with side quests providing new tasks and further information on Hydeland's troubled society. Overall, Dragon's Crown has a light story that's easy to digest, though it's not likely to capture your imagination. For that, look no further than what you see in front of you.

Vanillaware's iconic 2D artwork catches your eye from the start and lends some welcome dramatic flair to your adventure. Subtle gestures bring large, seemingly still images to life during cutscenes, with hulking warriors expanding and shrinking with every breath. Even the tiniest details are animated, fleshing out the surreal presentation. The in-game illustrations are equally rich, but feature more-fluid animations. You can see a similar style used in Vanillaware's past work, but the quality of Dragon's Crown's visuals are a step above the rest.

Make quick work of fledgling orcs from the back of beastly mounts.

Unfortunately, though there's a lot to love about the art, there's also a lot to dislike. A large number of female characters, including the sorceress and amazon, are rendered in a way that sometimes feels akin to softcore pornography. It's potentially offensive, not to mention lewd, to the point that it feels like a betrayal of the artistic skill on display. It doesn't come close to ruining what's great in Dragon's Crown, but it leaves a stain on the game.

As impressive and potentially distracting as Dragon's Crown's illustrations are, the gameplay is the real star of the show, and the combat provides the most excitement. As your party navigates icy ruins and dank caverns, your primary goal is to defeat the dozens of enemies standing in your way. Where most beat-'em-ups settle for simple combos with different animations to define each character, Dragon's Crown's warriors come with specialized basic maneuvers, on top of their already unique skill trees. Every character can string together combos from a mix of dashing, attacking, and jumping, but only the dwarf can pick up enemies and hurl them across the screen, and only the wizard can turn treasure chests into bipedal wooden sidekicks, for example. The variety of combat experiences leaves no excuses for boredom, and lots of room for creativity.

Say what you will about his height, but the dwarf can pull off a mean frog splash.

When playing solo, you have the option of fighting alongside non-player character allies. It's an interesting way to provide a simulation of the multiplayer experience, albeit devoid of communication and plagued by imperfect AI. Recruiting these allies is an unconventional but interesting process: you discover bones of fallen warriors in dungeons and resurrect your new friends at the temple in town. The levels and abilities of these fallen warriors scale with your experience, so you're never far from building a formidable squad of fighters.

The combat is entertaining enough, but Dragon's Crown doesn't rest there. There are a number of other things to do while exploring dungeons, such as searching for hidden passages, treasure, and the elusive runes. No matter the size of your party, your plucky, lock-picking sidekick Rannie is always at your service. You can direct him to open treasure chests and locked doors by using the cursor controlled by the right analog stick. That same cursor is used to activate glyphs randomly carved into dungeon walls. When you touch three that go together, they activate a powerful spell. The combinations are difficult to remember due to the number of glyphs and their primitive designs, but pursuing them is completely optional. They can be a distraction for an unfocused warrior, but understanding the various spells and using them to your team's advantage can be an invaluable skill.

Successfully casting rune spells can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.

There comes a point when you need to grind through Dragon's Crown's nine dungeons for experience, but it isn't as boring as it sounds. Each dungeon has multiple detours and a fork in the main road, with a unique boss at either end. Boss encounters become more than straight-up fights by incorporating gimmicks. One stage with a giant kraken forces you to use cannons to destroy its limbs. Another sends your party crashing through the floor above a lava pit if you don't win the fight quickly enough. These added bits of variety go a long way toward making Dragon's Crown feel exciting, when it might otherwise feel repetitive.

Amid all the fighting, you acquire a lot of treasure. All the equipment you find comes with a known rank, but it's not until you pay to have your equipment appraised that you see the remaining details. It's like playing the lottery; you can't win a powerful new weapon if you don't pay to play. But you need to be cautious, since gold isn't just necessary to appraise items. Gold is also used for continues, for resurrecting and recruiting fallen warriors into your fold, and even for garnering stat boosts. The reliance on currency makes every decision worth reconsidering and every bounty that comes in valuable. Unlike allies, gold is neither disposable nor easily replaced.

If you choose to tackle multiple dungeons in a row, a cooking mini-game in between allows you to temporarily boost your stats.

Real-life sidekicks are an option too. Dragon's Crown can be played as a co-op experience locally or online, but oddly, outside of local co-op on the PlayStation 3, it's a feature that needs to be unlocked. This doesn't occur until about five hours into the game. The benefits of such a system may be hard to identify at first, but this actually does a good job of ensuring that those who are involved have a certain level of experience under their belt. As always, it's the real-life allies you choose that define the multiplayer experience. Play with selfish players, and you might as well play with NPCs. Join team-oriented folks, and you can employ strategy and teamwork to great effect. Once you've unlocked the harder difficulty settings, you gain access to the player-versus-player coliseum, a simple versus mode that nets the winner a pot of gold for his or her efforts.

When you defeat Dragon's Crown on the normal difficulty setting, you then unlock the hard and inferno settings. Each comes with its own level cap, along with more challenging enemies and more valuable treasure. It's largely a numbers game, with enemies that are simply stronger than before, but you also discover variations on old enemies that introduce new powers and tactics. It's unfortunate that Dragon's Crown's story isn't large enough to support an extensive campaign, but there's no shortage of challenges on hand.

A poignant example of Dragon's Crown's mesmerizing, yet troubled art style.

With so many goals to pursue, Dragon's Crown is much larger than most beat-'em-ups, and more action-packed than most role-playing games. It's both beautiful and captivating in its style and execution, and overall, it's a great hybrid of two very different genres.

The Good
A variety of enjoyable character classes to explore
A deep skill system that lends itself to variety
Boss fights incorporate interesting and challenging gimmicks
Some of the best and most original 2D art around
The Bad
Some offensive and unavoidable character designs
The story feels obligatory and lacks depth
Combatants sometimes blend together on the battlefield
8
Great
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Discussion

120 comments
Mindwipe77
Mindwipe77

Still all these months later, one of my favorite ps3 games in my collection and one that i revisit time and time again.  It just never gets old! I wish for a ps4 sequel.

Ophenix1
Ophenix1

So... slap a couple of flying tits on a game and everyone buys it. God straight men are pathetic.

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

Good review, and I also think the character design is really offensive to any culture. Big breasts are not the problem. Exaggerated proportions is not an issue (i.e. big heads on small bodies). This is totally different: big breasts being objectified and under-clothed as the central appeal of a character design? It just shows the limited, brute vision of the designer, or the way he thinks the market wants. Which is probably as bad. 

It's not only offensive to be treated as kids who just want to see boobs everywhere, it's really offensive to keep treating women's bodies as marketing products. Even in a mostly macho/teen-dominated market as video games.

monicker
monicker

The offensive character thing made me think that this dude was trying to be the next Tom McShea, but the rest of his review suprising was lucid, and McShea always has some inexplicably large disconnect between his review and the score. This review was middling, didn't tell me enough about the game play, but wasn't god awful, just a little dumb with the offensive character designs.

monicker
monicker

" Some offensive and unavoidable character designs"

Stupid thing to say in a review. Hey doofus, does it pass the Bechdel test ? Seriously, how many people thought, DAMN I want this game...OH WAIT! It has big boobed women in skimpy outfits!? NO THANK YOU. Anyone who has seen screen shot one knows what this game is. It sounds more like your trying to get laid as opposed to a legitimate criticism.

mizasterj
mizasterj

I don't get it. What's so special about this game? Really, why all the interest and good reviews?


My friend and I played the game for 4 hours straight last night and, we got so bored. Theres nothing to do in this game. Its so repetitive and simplistic, but thats not even the worst part; there's no challenge! It's way to easy. What is this for kids only? I doubt it with the way the women are portrayed. 

The gameplay is just mindless pressing of buttons, Enemies have no challenge. You slide across the screen as you attack: thats just bad mechanics and unrealistic. 

They call this game an RPG. Is this a joke?For real? I mean just try comparing this game to Dragon's Dogma, or Diablo 3 or just even SKyrim: THOSE are RPGs , this..this is not an RPG it's just silly.The game lacks any depth. That would be fine if it were presented as $10 arcade download if it had at least a moderate challenge which it does not, but to say it's an RPG...thats a crime. 

What is there to do in this game? nothin, it seems Please I'm begging someone to show me the significance. Where is the value of gameplay? the strategy, I can't find any at all.

DWalker131
DWalker131

is this game worth buying ? looks identical to Knight of the Round Table, anything different ? if not i'll hold out till it gets way cheaper first

MailOrderMunstr
MailOrderMunstr

Got it!  Good game is good, and not offensive (except in the minds of nitwits and prudes).

Lostat
Lostat

This game releases here in the UK this coming Friday 11th October, think I'm going to buy it then.  I was a kid of the 80s and from looking at this on YouTube, it reminds me very strongly of "Gauntlet" back in the 80s - which was a game I lost more hours to than any other game of that decade.  :)

Derugs
Derugs

Love on Ps3 & Vita 

blamix99
blamix99

this game is awesome.. i really enjoy it. metacritic is 91, this game deserves a 9.0

youareverywrong
youareverywrong

Hey Pete lighten up

"Look at the fun-bags on that hose hound"

Harry (Dumb and Dumber)


Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

Can't say I'm really a fan of this guy's reviews... he tends to give some pretty dumb reasons listed under "The Bad" like when he said the ZoE HD Collection lacked an online component, lol. 

"Some offensive and unavoidable character designs"

-Really? With games out there like Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive and more gratuitously and ever so obviously exaggerating and glorifying the female form, you're gonna say that about THIS game? Wow.

"The story feels obligatory and lacks depth"

-I'll agree that it lacks a bit of depth, but its also intended to be short. Its a beat 'em up, not the next RPG epic. Also, protip: ALL stories are obligatory in videogames. Its a key, usually unskippable, component to ALL videogames. Ever.

"Combatants sometimes blend together on the battlefield"

-User error. Keep track of your character and your enemies... basic tactic in, again, every videogame ever. 

Alongside BioShock: Infinite this may very well be tied for my GOTY 2013. 

Derugs
Derugs

 The best thing to hit Vita since Madden :)  I just knew this was gonna be the no.1 game.  

k--m--k
k--m--k

how offensives is the characters? in what way i mean, and Story is huge factor for me in any game i buy, does this mean this one got shitty story? 

topherlee94
topherlee94

Capcom, please, PLEASE ask Vanillaware to revive some of your properties such as Ghouls N' Ghosts, Magic Sword, Area 88, Final Fight. These guys are visually to modern 2d games what Capcom were in the 16 bit days.

shiss27
shiss27

I like the term "unavoidable" character designs. Must be speaking of the cliche based characters' looks such as the elf with bow and arrow (Lord of the Rings?). Dwarf that uses axes? (didn't see that coming). But even still, I like this game! The control scheme is different but not complicated and I love the cursor effect, very well done. Is it sexual and exploitative? Sexual, YES, exploitative? Hmmm...no because sorceress' don't exist.

Uesugi-dono
Uesugi-dono

lol  All you wankers being offended by this game is exactly what drove me to preorder it.  Support Dragon's Crown; it pisses off prudes and feminists.

chipwithdip
chipwithdip

Comments here are so blind it's infuriating. There's a line between erotic and plain lewd. Between sexy and slutty. Between proper character designs and sexual objectification. This game does a lot of the latter. A LOT of the latter. There's a huge amount of emphasis on T-n-A whenever the females are on the screen (outside of the Elf). The Amazon never really turns around so you always see her ass. The Harpy has huge swinging boobs for no real reason. The amount of emphasis on the swinging knockers of the Sorceress is astounding (Those things look like they swing independently of each other...which is weird cause they're in the same dress...). The Mermaid has the ass of a human (WHY?). One npc just laid out with her crotch out like it wasn't anything. All the statues are partially nude. Hell, this could keep going on but the point is that there's a line that we gotta draw when it comes to this stuff. For the sake of being legitimately fair to females out there, I gotta say I can't rightfully justify the way women are (mostly) portrayed in this game.

finch7507
finch7507

The Vita sucks, all i heard was how powerful the device was gonna be and what it was capable of(remote play...yeah cause that worked out well). I wanna know where all the action/adventure games are,why no resident evil,god of war,batman arkham anything,or something like red dead redemption. When i look at upcoming releases the majority of games are 2D side scrollers....i already have a gameboy color for that. No way I'm spending $250-$300+ for uncharted and no memory.

Goobshoeriot
Goobshoeriot

Yea finally a good reason to use my vita. Got bored with all the free puzzle games from PS+.. Add me if anyone wants to play co-op on the vita: PSN -  Goobshoeriot

...just as soon as I finish the first run-through of the game

hadlee73
hadlee73

How frustrating. Finally a game that I want more than any other, and it won't even come out in my country until October. I knew making the switch to digital download titles (rather than disc) would come back to bite me on the a$$ sooner than I thought.

NiteX
NiteX

What kind of a loser gets offended by a video game's art style?

peladex31
peladex31

Time to dig my vita out  from my backyard. LOL

ducusss
ducusss

"Some offensive and unavoidable character designs" 

I knew they were gonna say this, but now that they did, I died a little on the inside.

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

I actually agree with him on the character designs and I think he has a perfectly legit point in that regard. Just looking at that screen with the sorceress really put me off. I mean, her breasts are ridiculously huge, they could probably crush that dragon. >_>


For me personally, there's a difference between "sexy" character design and "cheap" character design and to me, that just looks really cheap.

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

It is a legitimate criticism concerning the art style of the game, which is what he was discussing at that point in his review. It's not like he said those hiccups in the art style ruined the gameplay for him, in fact he even said, and I quote, "It doesn't come close to ruining what's great in Dragon's Crown, but it leaves a stain on the game. As impressive and potentially distracting as Dragon's Crown's illustrations are, the gameplay is the real star of the show, and the combat provides the most excitement."

So, don't you think you're being a bit anal and completely overreacting? Are you really that sensitive to other people's opinions regarding a game's art style?

monicker
monicker

Some people just love video games, from the simplistic to the complex. You should have done your homework before buying this; 2-D Brawler says it all. I'm sorry you bought it at full price though. I love this company and their graphics, but 50$ is too much for me, I'll snag it at the price drop. You should check out Ni No Kuni if you haven't, I loved that one too, or Eternal Sonata, though it's older.

RatedSTARZ
RatedSTARZ

@mizasterj Well everyone has their own opinions. Personally I liked it. I really enjoyed those old school side scrolling beat-em up games back when arcades still existed, and this game pays homage to those style of games. It is certainly no Skyrim or Diablo 3, cuz it's a different style of RPG.

But in the end perhaps you just don't like it simply cuz... well... you don't like it lol. Some like it, and some just don't xD. 

cousinmerl
cousinmerl

@DWalker131 its worth buying if enjoyed golden axe on the mega drive and want a pretty solid remake or if you liked castlevania.

monicker
monicker

GIve the guy a break, there must be a hot intern taking womyn studies at gamespot and this dude wants to get laid.

monicker
monicker

EXCUSE ME?! 9!? Um, offensive outfits pal. This game needs to be censored, it's dirty!!!! UNCLEAN UNCLEAN!


Damn, I so want this game though.

monicker
monicker

Anyone who finds these characters offensive should just unplug their system and sell it, and buy a bible or Koran, or what ever it is sexless prudes buy.

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

@k--m--k As kkxtrouble said, its not terribly engrossing. Its a fun little narrative that involves you, an adventurer, taking on danger for treasure... talk to this person, kill that monster, loot loot loot, move on. 

Its still fun for what its worth, though. Its not like its terrible... and the "offensive characters" refer to the exaggerated art style of the females. Some people just can't deal with large boobs (avoid Soul Calibur, Dead Or Alive, and more if you do). 

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

@k--m--k The story is very cliché, It's not the kind of game you buy because of the story, you buy it for an awesome coop game.

AsszStake
AsszStake

@Uesugi-dono YEEEEEAAAAAAH YOU'RE A MAN WHO LIKE WHORES LIKE THEM WITH THEY TITTIES OUT! YEEEAH! 

I really like Dragon's Crown, it's a fantastic game but the Amazon, Mermaid and Sorceress are potrayed so insanely. I played the game in a bus with on of my budds and he was stunned by the potrayal of the female characters. said it was disgusting. This is the kind of game you're easily embarrassed playing in public. Japanese developers should all learn from Persona team and their potrayal of females and grow up. Otherwise the game are stunning.


monicker
monicker

I think I speak for a healthy 90% of the people on this site when I say STFU up you inarticulate turd. No girl is going to read this and realize how deep you are and unless your forcing your poor girlfriend to read it, you aint getting laid. It's funny and has it's place, you can't handle it, don't buy it. No one is being corrupted by it, and I guarantee you many female gamers love these as much as the males, differently.

ComplexConf
ComplexConf

@chipwithdip Because sexual objectification in video games will destroy the world and corrupt your miiiiiiiiiiiiiind! :)

Hehe.. Let's chill out for a bit eh? Focus on the important issues and problem when it comes to sexual objectification. Not video games. :)

HyouVizer
HyouVizer

@NiteX its not the artwork, its the sexualized characters it seems 

just americans being prudes as usual >->

monicker
monicker

Dude, don't play it then. It's not for you. Seriously, no everyone is going to like everything, and everyone has different versions of aesthetics. I surprised you didn't mention how this game failed the bechdel test. Also nice way to start your post like an asshole then go into mentioning m,maturity.

monicker
monicker

We're not prudes, we just believe in no sex before marriage and not touching ourselves like monkeys. Women should never be viewed as sexual objects...and if you believe that, don't look at my browser history.

MAGIC-KINECT
MAGIC-KINECT

@HyouVizer @NiteX LMAO...Americans??? P0rn capital of the world. I'm an American in Asia now and Asian countries can be extremely prudish. Hypocrites, especially the Catholics who go to church after their nights of selling their a$$ in a bar or on the street. Japan and Middle East etc are the most prudish. Japs can't even show actual genitals in their p0rn!! It's blurred out. MY EYESSSSSSSSS hari kari time!!! :D

ducusss
ducusss

@Gamescook @ducusss Not this again... ya'know there is such a thing as a bad opinion. Or do you believe that the Westboro Baptist church is just great people with different views?

randallsilver
randallsilver

@MAGIC-KINECT yes, you're obviously the mature one in this conversation now... And living proof of how easy Americans are to offend, no matter where they live. Bless 'em. @HyouVizer 

MAGIC-KINECT
MAGIC-KINECT

@HyouVizer @MAGIC-KINECT  You obviously didn't read or understand the words I typed. Maybe you should study English/USA a bit more ....Maybe get out of your hut in the jungle now and then....

monicker
monicker

Then don't buy it doofus, your opinion and whiny arguments aren't changing any minds, people like you encourage it.

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

@ducusss @chipwithdip @Gamescook 

I bet you haven't even played the game yet. At every chance they get they get  you are looking at tits os ass, there is barely any focus on the man. Thes game is purely sexual, if you are ok with that there is no problem but don't try to hide what it is.

ducusss
ducusss

@chipwithdip @Gamescook And one more thing, it's fairly obvious that their styling is intentionally ridiculous. Nobody looks at this game and goes "those proportions are just right" and that's exactly what they want. Just look at the fighter and his tiny sword which is actually gigantic. It's supposed to be silly.

ducusss
ducusss

@chipwithdip @ducusss @Gamescook Being offended by sexualized styling like this is stupid. There's nothing actually offensive about it. If they said ridiculous, then cool, it is that. If they said it was excessive, then that's accurate, it is. But they said offensive, and the only reason they did was because of this idiotic "feminist" movement that's infecting every form of media these days, crying "misogyny" at every turn, especially where it doesn't exist. I mean look at the men in this game, they are the buffest men in videogames, they are just as sexualized! I'm not crying that women expect me to have chiseled abs and a 12-inch wiener. I don't care, why should a women? And you can't tell me this kind of thing is strictly associated with videogames, either. Saying that this game somehow hurts people in any way is delusional. I don't want a new taboo born of ignorance to run the videogame industry or really anything for that matter, and neither should you.

chipwithdip
chipwithdip

@ducusss @Gamescook You're right. Some opinions can be harmful. But you're wrong, cause these depictions of women are harmful...to us...as gamers. These designs and poses that they're depicted in are ridiculous, and do nothing for the game except desperately pander to potential buyers through the promise of sex appeal. Excessive sex appeal. The Amazon barely even faces the screen due to how much they focus on her ass, and the sorceress's boobs look more like two giant, separate sand bags swinging around at random (weird since they should be flopping around in unison seeing how they're in the same dress). The mermaid has a human's ass, the statues are all partially naked, the huge ass harpy was just randomly given two giant knockers just for the sake of it, there's an NPC that just sits with her crotch out...I mean, if you REALLY look at it from an unbiased stand-point, this game is probably worse in this regard than games like Dead or Alive...which is REALLY bad.

Now, I don't hate all erotic char designs, but this game takes them too far too often, and that's why it got a negative mark. There's TOO much of it. The only two female characters I can give an honest pass are the Elf and the Queen. Everything else made me go "Like...really?".

Just being real though.

Gamescook
Gamescook

@PeterDuck @ducusss ...Wow. That was an appropriate comparison.

I'm going to kill myself now. You both won the Internet, forever.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

@ducusss

thank you. 98 percent of people on the internet and in real life, seem to think that all opinions are equal, if not harmless 

Dragon's Crown More Info

First Release on Aug 06, 2013
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PlayStation 3
Dragon's Crown is an online adventure where players are thrust into a fantastical medieval world.
8.2
Average User RatingOut of 170 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Vanillaware
Published by:
ATLUS, NIS America
Genres:
Action, Beat-'Em-Up
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
All Platforms