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Dragon's Crown Review: Buxom Babes and Battleaxes

Ma'idah Lashani | 31 Jul 2013 19:00
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The outside world is revealed to you as series of sequential two-dimensional levels, each one its own hyperbolic variation of a magical trope like the mad scientist's laboratory or the castle of the dead. Sometimes it'll feel cliché, but the scenery is absolutely stunning anyway. It's particularly striking watching the picturesque landscape rotate around the mage's tower as you run up it. Even the mounts look legendary. Like the best kind of 80's power metal song, this game will have you riding velociraptors around and spitting a hail of fireballs into the faces of your foes.

Levels progress in the standard manner from left to right, and consist of about ten frames of button mashing that culminate in a boss fight. Each section of the level will have an assortment of chests to unlock, yielding an item of random quality once you've cleared the final area. You'll also come across the bones of other fallen travelers which you can return to town and resurrect, providing a replenishing stable of NPCs to accompany you through the single player campaign. Completing levels will yield gold used to buy and repair equipment and experience used to level up your toon. Players may be underwhelmed by the leveling up, however, as there is little visual evidence of the progression: Your level one sword will look suspiciously similar to its level 40 counterpart, a consequence of the game's insistence on being epic from beginning to end.

Where the notable exaggeration remains appropriate to the subject it does really work. The genie's muscular arms and the old beggar's wrinkled skin bring out their essential qualities of strength and weakness respectively. It even makes sense for the Sorceress, a class that's traditionally charismatic, to have sexually suggestive garb. However, in the case of the nun with her legs spread it feels at best lazy and at worst downright regressive.

If the game's questionable portrayal of women and lackluster storyline aren't enough to put you off, though, there's still plenty left to enjoy about it. Wrapped in its hauntingly pretty watercolor design, Dragon's Crown has all the delightful face smashing one might expect from a brawler plus the added incentive of character development and randomized loot. The repetitive nature of the genre is even slightly mitigated by a random level generator at the game's end, a tool that'll give you at least some reason to keep coming back for more.

Bottom Line: Dragon's Crown is gorgeous, and though at times its flavor may be of questionable taste, ultimately it does still manage to strike a lot of the right nostalgia chords.

Recommendation: Best for lovers of fantasy brawlers and retro enthusiasts.

Game: Dragon's Crown
Genre: Brawler
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus
Platform(s): PS3, PS Vita
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK)

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