Aside from the titular quest (see what I did there), Dragon’s Crown offers plenty of depth and subtlety once you peel back the 2d surface.
A little while ago I saw the promos for Dragons Crown and didn’t care much for it. There may be some complaints about the art style being a little controversial, but that didn’t bother me as much as what I was expecting from the gameplay. We often judge a book by its cover and Dragon’s Crown has a vibrant, busty cover that will surely attract attention of gamers, but once you get past the boobs you start to realise there is a deep and satisfying quest in here.
The art style is exactly that – a style, it comes alive on the Vita with the rich tapestry of backgrounds showing such depth of colour and attention to detail. They might be 2d images that your characters slide across, but the wealth of attention they have had lavished on them makes them a joy to view. The playable characters are a usual mixed bag of dungeon crawling stereotypes, but taken to the extreme. Females are feisty and exaggerated, males are stoic and heroic. As they move around the backdrops you can appreciate the animation detail as hair moves and flesh jiggles, but once the action starts they loose a little fluidity and start doing the old 2d fighter hop step lurching between actions. Given the approach the developers have taken, its not the end of the world and when the screen gets busy with jumping, slashing and spell casting, it’s hardly noticeable.
The questing starts in a typical town where a short horizontal map allows access to the standard adventurers locations, these locations be it Guild, Chapel, Castle or Stables open up during the first few fetch quests by way of tutorial. The town can be traversed on foot or fast travelled through the map, this is also nicely handled by button or touch control.
Once areas have been explored for quests outside the town you are free to revisit them to satisfy conditions for other quests and to farm experience. Each dungeon is littered with chests and doors that can be opened by your friendly tag along Rogue, doors often open up puzzle rooms or quest specific areas while chests add to the loot pile. Of course every dungeon ends with a boss fight and while they have a mountain of hit points, a few minutes mashing will see you right. It is also a far easier experience once you have recruited a few other adventurers to your party, even if it can lead to some cluttered battles.
Recruiting adventurers comes from finding a pile of bones in a dungeon, taking them back to the chapel and resurrecting said adventurer. They will then hang around the tavern ready to be dragged back into the wilderness whenever you need them, it doesn’t take long to build up a solid roster of recruits and often help to mix up the line up depending on your current destination. Should a recruit die and be left in a dungeon they are lost to you, but they have enough continues for this to happen rarely or perhaps even once by mistake.
The loot seems to be collected in the chaos of battles and is listed at the end of a dungeon, where you can sell off or spend gold on appraising the item to know its stats or equip requirements. There’s a nice mix of goodies, although not full sets of armour, protective gear fills two slots, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the new stuff and swap it out when needed. If you are short of gold in the dungeon, you can always wait until a return to town to turn in a quest, then get your appraisals done by the barely dressed witch in town.
I have found Dragon’s Crown to really grow on me these past few days, being a dungeon crawler from the Dark Alliance, Norrath, Dungeon Hunter style of game I have never been convinced by this 2d genre. However having lifted the lid and looked under the hood, it’s safe to say Dragon’s Crown has much more charm than a few cartoony boobs and I can see this title staying on my Vita for some time to come.