I’m a big fan of Vanillaware titles, so as you might imagine, I’ve been keeping my eye on Dragon’s Crown for quite some time. What perhaps interested me even more is knowing that it would be a beat-‘em-up style game, but with a fantasy aesthetic much like the Golden Axe and Dungeons & Dragons arcade games of old. No controversy over body part proportions was going to keep this one out of my hands.
As the game begins, you can choose between any of Dragon’s Crown‘s six playable classes. There’s a fighter, amazon, wizard, elf, dwarf, and sorceress, with each one containing their own innate set of abilities and playstyles. Since the main quest can be played cooperatively with up to four players, it’s in your best interest to select roles that complement each other depending on who is playing, though the AI can take over the non-filled slots if you desire.
I was chosen to play the wizard class which is quite unlike my normal playstyle, so it took some getting used to. Depending on the direction held and how long I pushed buttons down would determine the spell I cast and how powerful it is. Lobbing fireballs over and over drained the amount of magic I had at my disposal, so on occasion I had to stop and charge it back up. Meanwhile, my co-op partners didn’t seem to have the same limitations placed upon them, so it definitely seems as though some classes are tooled for advanced players moreso than others.
During the demo stage that we played, after beating the snot out of a few enemies, there were occasionally creatures left behind that could be mounted and used to wallop your adversaries further. I managed to gain control of what appeared to be a giant saber-toothed tiger while one of my comrades discovered a small dragon later on. Unlike my magic reserve, these creatures didn’t have any limit to the number of attacks that could be utilized including some of their more powerful charge abilities. However, they will scamper off if they take too much damage in combat.
Also accompanying you is what appears to be a little gnome character with a sack on his shoulder that can open doors and unlock chests for you. I was initially confused by his presence as I initially assumed that he needed to be kicked for items (oops!) Loot is dispersed evenly among party members and after each stage any statistics awarded from level ups can be dispersed into your various stats. Current gear can be managed on this screen as well.
It was a lot to absorb within a small window of gameplay, but what I gathered from the experience so far seems to contain a lot of depth to the combat and customization. The visuals are stunning, as is typical from a Vanillaware title, and remains so whether you play it on the PS3 or Vita. It is unfortunate that there isn’t any cross buy/cross play compatibility, though if you own both versions of the game, you can at least swap the save data between the two. If you enjoy beat-‘em-up style games at all, definitely keep your eye out for this one. Dragon’s Crown releases August 6th, 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Vita.