Dragon’s Crown Pro (Review) Playstation 4

Dragon’s Crown Pro (Review) Playstation 4
Review Score:

Initially a Playstation 3 release that launched way back in August 2013 (and receiving critical-acclaim for its progressive gameplay and high-definition graphics), Dragon’s Crown is a 2D hack ‘n slasher role-playing game that shattered the boundaries of 2D graphics with its oil-painting inspired visuals. 

It has been five years since Dragon’s Crown release on PS3, and fans of the game began asking, “Will this game ever see a release on Playstation 4?”  Developer Vanillaware responded by releasing Dragon’s Crown Pro, a slightly improved version of the original that includes enhanced 4k graphics, Dualshock 4 Touchpad controls and cross-platform play with the Playstation 3.

Like the game itself, the story has remained the same: as a brave adventurer, the player is sent to Hydeland to explore the dungeons and labyrinths that lay underneath the outskirts of town. Upon joining the local Adventurers guild, the player receives a request from Princess Vivian and Prime Minister Gustaf to retrieve the royal scepter from a thief. This quest, like many others found in-game, eventually all lead to the legendary Dragon’s Crown. 

Before the player begins their long, arduous journey, they are presented with a menu system to create a new character. Dragon’s Crown Pro has six different fighters to choose from: The Fighter, Dwarf and Amazon are powerful melee combatants with well-rounded character stats. Players looking for a challenge will find the Sorceress, Wizard and Elf more to their liking. All three lack good defense and must carry health potions to stay alive.

Once the player is finished with the character creation process, they are sent to a brief tutorial that explains character movement, combat and how to interact with Rannie the thief.  During the game, Rannie becomes a very important member of the player’s party. His purpose is to unlock chests and doors, while also collecting any treasure left behind by the player and their party. 

The biggest change made to Dragon’s Crown Pro is the way the player interacts with Rannie. Instead of using the analog sticks, the player can now use the Dualshock 4’s Touchpad like a computer mouse. For example: When a treasure chest is spotted, the player can highlight said chest by dragging their finger across the Touchpad. After highlighting the object, the player can then press down on the Touchpad to have Rannie open it. When this happens, gold and items (if any are present) explode from the chest and fall to the ground.

The game places a strong emphasis on collecting treasure. Since treasure drops are numerous, a grading system keeps track of the items the player’s group has collected. The more gold and items a treasure chest contains, the better its ranking will be. A treasure ranking of ‘A’ or ‘S’ is the best the player can receive, while a ranking of ‘E’ is considered quite poor. Spoils are another form of treasure that usually turn out to be accessories or weapons. These items can be appraised at the end of each quest to reveal their stats. When these items haven’t been appraised, their item ranking can be viewed to determine whether they’re worth appraising or not. Like the treasure system, all ‘Spoils’ receive a ranking from A-E.

Dragon’s Crown Pro uses a leveling system where each fighter gains XP for defeating enemies and completing quests. The system itself is fairly basic, and it requires little-to-no explanation. However, the game does award ‘Life Points’ every time the player’s character levels. Life Points are used to resurrect a character when they die (they can also be used to resurrect fallen party members). Life points are essentially in-game continues. Once these points are gone, the player must donate gold to the Goddess Athena to ‘continue’. As for using Life Points to resurrect party members who are mortally wounded during combat: they will only retain half of their hit points, leaving the player’s party at a disadvantage.

While fun as a single-player game, Dragon’s Crown Pro is even better as a multiplayer experience. The player can visit the Dragon’s Haven Inn to configure multiplayer (which invites random players to the game) or to add new characters to their party. During the game,  the player will find bones of fallen adventurers that can be resurrected at Canaan Temple. Once revived, these adventurers can be added to the player’s party as AI controlled companions. Like most of the game, even resurrecting a pile of bones is played out in a brilliant, cinematic fashion. The player is treated to a beautiful piece of animation, as cherubs approach a stone slab where the pile of bones lay, returning a once beating heart to its owner’s chest. It’s an almost surreal experience; a beautiful oil painting come to life.

Combat is a heart-pounding affair as you battle hordes of undead monsters, lizard men and dark sorcerers, among others. As the player battles the evil forces that plague Hydeland, the AI controlled party members will immediately engage the enemy and offer back up support when needed. Fighting consists of using both basic and special attacks. By repeatedly pressing the Square button, the player’s character will execute a series of basic attacks. If these attacks hit an enemy, they will restore any missing MP (Magic Points) that were previously used to cast a spell, for example. However, this does vary based on the character being used.

Special attacks are unique to each character class. For example: the Sorceress can cast a variety of ‘Specials’ (i.e. magic) when the left Analog Stick is held in different directions, while the Circle button is being pressed.  Holding up on the Analog Stick – depending on the level of the Sorceress – can conjure large pillars of flames that will engulf most enemies. As the player’s fighter increases in level, new spells and skills can be purchased at the Adventurers Guild.

The controls are rock-solid no matter how intense the action becomes. For classes that use magic, the player can hold the Square button to recover missing MP (Magic Points), while also moving their character to avoid danger. The only issue with this feature is that the character in question is incapable of defending themselves. The item system is easy to access too. Items that are already equipped can be accessed by pressing left or right on the directional pad. When using a healing potion, for example – the player must first select the item and then press down on the d-pad. The game’s controls are designed to make accessing important items easier.

The boss encounters are epic in proportion, as the player battles giant, half-woman harpies and hulking minotaur beasts, to name just a few.  These and many other monsters like them are guaranteed to challenge even the most seasoned of gamers, taking upwards of ten minutes or longer to beat. Dragon’s Crown Pro is definitely for the hardcore.

Vanillaware did an extraordinary job on the graphics. The city of Hydeland is still a breathtaking sight, as the visual upgrade accentuates the oil painting characteristics of the backgrounds. Villagers casually stroll by as the player explores the city. The guild and shops in town are slightly above the playfield, and a red arrow appears when they can be entered. The entire presentation is incredibly beautiful.

Dragon’s Crown Pro by Vanillaware is still one of the best hack ‘n slasher RPGs money can buy. The graphical enhancements look gorgeous on a 4K TV, and the PS4-specific game mechanics – as minor as they are – are a welcome addition to this remastered title. 

Gamers who missed out on the Playstation 3 release will stand to gain the most from this release. Those who have already completed this journey should remember that aside from the enhanced graphics and Touchpad controls, the game itself remains largely the same (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) with some minor gameplay tweaks peppered throughout for good measure.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $29.99

Dragon’s Crown Pro Official Website:
https://atlus.com/dragonscrown/

Review Score
Graphics
The entire presentation is incredibly beautiful
Sound
The sound of steel against steel never sounded do good.
Gameplay
Combat is a heart-pounding affair.
Overall
Gamers who missed out on the Playstation 3 release will stand to gain the most from this release.
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