Vanillaware is known for crafting beautiful animated worlds that are usually the work of hand drawn animations. At this point, their art style and character design has its own unique look, just like it was the case with Studio Ghibli. Dragon’s Crown is essentially a side-scrolling brawler that was sold on the premise of its jaw dropping artwork. It might not be the best work of Vanillaware, but it is a fairly challenging and fun action game that has some light RPG elements integrated into the mix.
Dragon’s Crown is not exactly a new game. It was already released for the PS3 and PS Vita back in 2013. Unlike the release of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir – that basically remastered the original game – Dragon’s Crown Pro is a fairly basic re-release of the original game whose biggest selling point is its 4K resolution. It looks absolutely amazing on a 4K screen but aside from that, and the lack of load times, Dragon’s Crown Pro is essentially the same experience that I had on the PS3 and PS Vita. This is not to say the game is bad, just the appeal of this release is rather minor if you have already finished it once.
Dragon’s Crown Pro brings the fun of a side-scrolling brawler and dungeon exploration into a single package. The basic premise of the game is pretty simple. You can take control of a character from a group of adventurers that features a diverse cast of characters ranging from a Sorceress, Magician, and Warrior to Dwarf. There are a total of 6 character archetypes that you can select at any point during the game. It is important to pick a character that you want to use for the majority of the main quest because if you decide to create a new one, the game will have to start from the beginning for your new character since the story progress is tied to them.
Dragon’s Crown Pro is set in the same fantasy world as Vanillaware’s previous work, Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire. The timeframe and locations are different but some of the lore is shared across the different games. The story is basically a giant fetch quest where your character is tasked with locating the legendary relic, Dragon’s Crown. As an adventurer on the hunt for treasure, you will join a guild at the start of the game and undertake quests assigned by them. You will also work for the government and help them in locating the Dragon’s Crown.
As far as the gameplay and combat goes, each character class has a unique feel in combat. They all have their own strength and weakness that plays a key part in some of the battles. You can get up to 4 players in a single game session since the game supports online multiplayer while including offline co-op multiplayer. Honestly the ideal way to experience it is with a friend either offline or through online co-op, because it makes the game a lot more fun and easier to finish through some of the most difficult battles.
Honestly my main criticism towards the game is that while the combat is fun, the story is a bit hard to follow and the motivations of the characters are usually lost in the convoluted nature of the conversations. As I have explained before, the story just feels like a giant fetch quests and the missions that you get from your guild don’t really offer anything unique. You will be tasked with clearing dungeons, getting back certain items, or basically killing a set number of monsters. The thing that ties it all down is that despite the mundane nature of the quests, the progression system and gameplay loop holds up well.
Dragon’s Crown Pro works as a side-scrolling brawler even leading to a hub in the form of a town. You will have access to different locations in the town that offer you their service. You can head to the inn to assign allies, select your character or save game. If you explore dungeons, you might find treasure that has to be appraised with a cost, bones that can be resurrected to get new allies, and you can also earn gold and experience points to level up your character. Once you have leveled up, you get a skill point that you can use to learn skills or upgrade existing ones. Each character class has their own set of skills to learn although I felt like there wasn’t really much customization to offer for the skills. Most are just additional attacks or improve certain stats or effects.
As a solo experience, Dragon’s Crown Pro will get boring rather quickly. However if you have friends to play it in co-op, it is a great game that comes highly recommended. It is a lot more fun to grind in dungeons and explore through them unlocking new treasures or discovering secrets if you have friends. Their characters will retain their own separate progress so it makes the multiplayer experience even better.
The 4K upgrade is nice but there is another addition this time with the orchestral soundtrack. You can toggle between the original soundtrack and the new one easily from the options menu. I found the new soundtrack great but ofcourse your mileage might vary. Despite releasing years ago, Dragon’s Crown Pro still holds up really well and this is a testament to the work done by Vanillaware.
Dragon’s Crown Pro Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The most beautiful 2D action RPG in history, which enchanted over a million adventurers on the PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Vita, is journeying to the PlayStation®4!
Dragon's Crown Pro is still a great game and it holds up well even on the current generation consoles thanks in part to the 4K upgrade, but the lack of new gameplay features makes it feel like a rather lackluster re-release. If you have played the original game already, there is honestly no need to get this one, but if you are a fan of Vanillaware, this is an easy recommendation.