Sunday, 11 August 2013

EXPOSURES (VIDEO GAMES) -- Dragon's Crown [PS3]

So I started playing Dragon's Crown yesterday afternoon (finally picked up the game on Friday, but was feeling too sick to play it then), and the only times I took a break was to eat dinner and then to go to sleep. Then today, the only times I took a break was to wash my hair and to write this blog. Believe me, I'm going back to playing right after this! ;)

Dragon's Crown

Playtime Length (so far): 13-ish hours
Platform Played on: PS3
Language: English
Type of Game: Beat-em-up / Brawler, RPG, Class-building
Game-specific Details: Currently playing as the Elf class, level 17

Brief Overview
Dragon's Crown, in a nutshell, is like a classic beat-em up / brawler-type game with revamped graphics, music, controls, and features. When you start the game, you choose a character class, and then you adventure through various areas, killing baddies, gaining experience, and taking loot. Along the way, you'll run into the bones of other adventurers, whom can be resurrected as AI characters, and taken along with you on future journeys (up to 4 characters max in one party).

And there is a story attached to this game. There are more features in Dragon's Crown, like rune magic, secret chambers, class-building, but since I'm still currently going through my first playthrough, I am currently unsure of all the features (I mean, I thought I was close to beating the game and an NPC just gave me an item to unlock another feature).

The different character classes in Dragon's Crown.

My Current Likes
- The 4-Player multiplayer aspect: It's kinda rare these days to find a game that supports local co-op for 4 people. I find that this is one of Dragon's Crown's main draw for me (besides being developed by Vanillaware, a company that makes lovely, charming video games).

- The graphics: I love it. I find it intriguing that characters are often designed with out-of-whack proportions (just take a look at the Fighter's massive shoulders in the image above (the Fighter is the guy in grey armor). The colouring / shading is also spectacular. You can't always tell if you can interact with some of the objects in the background or not (it's so cool when you realize that you can). And I love the landscapes -- they look so breathtaking.

- The music: A lot of it is more ambience than anything, but there's this unearthly feel to it. You can check out Dragon's Crown's official website to listen to the town theme.

- The fighting controls: For a beat-em up / brawler-type game, the controls play almost like a simple fighting game. No, no quarter circle combos or anything like that (at least, not that I know of). It's more like, there's a lot more opportunity in Dragon's Crown to chain attacks and do combos. Like for the Elf (not sure if it's the same with every character), she has an attack that could launch the enemy in the air. She also has a sliding attack and one that drills down on the enemy. Mix those in with her regular chain attack (mashing the square button), and the elf could possibly take down an enemy the next time it hits the ground. I've just never seen or played another beat-em up / brawler with controls like that.

- The short bursts of play commitment: Even though I was completely taken when I started Dragon's Crown, one of the things I really like is that each dungeon, at least so far, is relatively short. Playtime runs about 15-30 minutes per dungeon, and then you're back in town, planning your next outing.

- The looting: Well... I enjoy looting. That's about all I need to say.

- The secret chambers: One thing I like when going through a dungeon for the first time, is trying to figure out how to access the secret rooms. Sometimes it's like a puzzle. Other times, it's just remembering to tell Rannie (your lockpicker buddy) to open the door that looks like a part of the background.

- The multiplayer aspect with AI: It's nice to have the option in case you have nobody to play with.

My Current Dislikes
- The AI characters: They generally suck, lol. I still appreciate that it's there.

- The chaos with 4 players: Again, I am super glad that there's a 4 player multiplayer option, but sometimes things can get really hectic and I might not know where I am on the screen. I imagine it would be a little less hectic when playing multiplayer with people since there could be a devised plan or something (I know my sister and I used to have plans when playing these types of games). 

The chaos with 4 players.

- The storytelling format: The storytelling is all voiced by one narrative; even the dialogue of other characters. I guess it's fitting for the type of game, but I would prefer it if all the different characters had their own voice in the story -- it would totally feel more engaging for me.

- The constant main quest reminder: Every time you exit any kind of place in town, the narrator will remind you of your next main quest. That means for me, I would hear it at a minimum... 4 times (I always check out: Morgan's Magic Shop, The Adventurer's Guild, The Temple, and The Tavern). I hear that this has been removed with the latest patch in Japan. Hopefully that patch comes here as well.

- The online play option is character-specific and starts off locked: In order to unlock online play, you'll have to clear the first half of the playthrough offline... for each character. That means, if you clear the playthrough offline with the Wizard class, you'll unlock online play for the Wizard only. It just makes for a lot of offline play if you want to unlock online for all the classes.

My Current Indifferences
- A lot to do in one screen: In every dungeon, in every screen, besides beating up the baddies, you can also use the right analog stick to: 1. find hidden treasures to add to your score, 2. find rune engravings to potentially use rune magic (available later in the story), or 3. investigate things that you think might prompt a narrative or clue. By themselves, it's fine, and I actually do have a lot of fun when looking for this stuff. But sometimes, especially when trying to cast rune magic while enemies are on the screen (some rune magic are cast against enemies), it could be a little, well, too much. I think this would be less of an issue when playing with other people since some of them would probably help with it.

- Class-building: I think the class-building here is just standard. I like that it's displayed as tarot-like cards and tells you which skills are common and which are class-specific, but most the of the skills, at least for the Elf, don't excite me that much. Or -- if they do, I have to wait so many levels to put more points into the skill I want. Right now, I'm adding as many points as I can into the boots skill (I want a kick-a** elf!), the power shot skill, the skill that adds more score for each coin picked up, and when I can, the deep pockets skill.

My Overall Impressions
Despite my pet peeves about Dragon's Crown, I'm enjoying the heck out it. I can't wait to unlock online play so I can play with my friends. I also want to know more about the story. And I want to try playing the other character classes as well. I think my next playthrough will be as the Sorceress or Wizard.

By the way, if you already have Dragon's Crown, remember that the Storyteller DLC is free until early September 2013!

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to comment about anything. :)

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