Hidden Dragon Legend looks like a promising hack and slash on the surface. The initial announcement trailer showed a lot of flashy combos and some nice looking boss battles so it was bound to catch the attention of those who were looking for a nice indie hack and slash game. Unfortunately after having played the game, I find it hard to recommend it considering how repetitive the combat can get, and how inconsistent the visuals end up in term of presentation and the story cutscenes.
Hidden Dragon Legend starts off great with the main protagonist appearing to suffer from amnesia as he wakes up in a prison. You will take control of him as he manages to escape and fight his way from the prison without getting much of his background. If you expect the game to have a coherent story and narrative structure, it is best to relinquish these thoughts because it never turns out to be a case. Basically the game tries to lay out a narrative and story that starts from an unknown hero to a tale of revenge, but it is also so cliche and forgettable that you won’t pay much attention to it.
Leaving the story aside, the game is rather short but not without its technical and design issues. The combat is flashy and looks really good initially but as you progress further in the story, you will began to see the ugliness behind its beauty. The combat ends up being incredibly repetitive and while the game does offer a combo upgrade system, it is barely enough here to keep it interesting. You can upgrade you skills and learn new combos by killing enemies and earning a currency which can also be located through treasure chests that you discover along the way. This currency is used to upgrade your combos. You can also tweak some of their special effects like the power or area of damage using these upgrades. The issue here is that the upgrade system is pretty lackluster and hardly offers variety of combos. You will be going through majority of the game mashing the same combos with little variations and it tends to get boring quickly.
Thankfully the developers have given the ability to change weapons and you can locate new weapons as you progress further through the story, but even these sadly don’t seem to do much in order to fix the repetitiveness of the combat. These weapons can be equipped easily by going into the menu. You also have a sub weapon that you can use in the middle of the combat but the nature of some of the enemy fights means you won’t be using it much. The upgrade system also includes upgrading your ‘Sutra’ which gives you stat boosts or extra rewards after killing enemies like increasing the experience points that you obtain after killing them.
Sometime you will have to deal with QTEs which feel rather random and don’t seem to fit in with the nature of the game. One of the aspect of the game that I thought was neatly done was the introduction to each enemy. You won’t be fighting the same variety of enemies throughout the entire campaign and there is a variation of them available even if it might not seem like much, it is still something that adds a bit of skill to the combat. Some of the more heavy hitting enemies can quickly gang up to kill you if you are stuck between them and this can lead to some frustrating moments, but if you like the extra challenge, perhaps you might find it fun.
Visuals wise, the game looks decent enough when you are running around in the 2.5 perspective but once you encounter some of the cutscenes for the boss fights or the story, you will soon see that they are rather lackluster and not meant to be viewed up close. The animation of the human characters also feels like it is not as fluid but given the fact that the game is an indie release, it is easy to give the developers benefit of doubt here. You can also perform some special moves during combat and the effects used here looks rather nice on the screen, but it is truly a shame that the quality of the visuals is so inconsistent.
All of this brings me to one of the worst aspect of the game. It is the platforming that is forced throughout the main story campaign. You get a grappling hook that you can shoot using your arm to attach and swing from objects but the clunky nature of the jumps and the platforming in general makes it a pure torture. Honestly this game could have been so much better if the developers focused on creating and action focused side-scrolling game instead of adding platforming into the mix. The end result is that platforming is easily the weakest part of the game and the combat might have potential but it doesn’t appear to be as polished resulting in a mediocre experience overall.
Hidden Dragon Legend Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Hidden Dragon Legend is 2.5D action platformer taking place in Imperial China, combining classic platform action with fast-paced combo fighting. Players' reflexes, timing and persistence will be challenged to the max!
Hidden Dragon Legend starts off as a promising side-scrolling hack and slash and quickly devolves into a repetitive combat and inconsistent platforming mess. The game also suffers from a lack of polish especially for the story cutscenes where the visuals are widely inconsistent with stiff animations.