Siege Spots – Dragon’s Crown Pro

Posted on May 08 2018

Did you ever play D&D and think that you’d rather stop talking and just run around and hit things? Dragon’s Crown Pro is the game for you.

Dragon’s Crown Pro is a remake of the 2013 PS3 and Vita release, Dragon’s Crown. It’s a side-scrolling, beat-em-up romp through a D&D adjacent world, and it succeeds at being an exemplar of those genres! So now is probably a good time to mention that I’m not a fan of any of that, at least not in the way I used to be. I’ve never been a fan of fantasy, and the standard Streets of Rage style of brawler has gotten stale to me over the years, especially after a series of great releases last generation like Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (may it rest in peace). After a wave of releases like that, I got bored of the whole genre, to the point that I never even played Dragon’s Crown’s original release, even when it was free for PS+ users.

I say all that so that you’ll know what it means when I say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Dragon’s Crown Pro. I was very pessimistic when I started the game late one night and just couldn’t get into it. But I pressed on, and I’m glad I did; not because the game got deeper or more interesting, but because I found that sometimes I was in the mood to just dive into the game and smash things.

I tried all the classes for a bit and settled on the Dwarf. While some of the spellcasting classes looked like they might be interesting and nuanced, and the other fighters might have been easier, I fell in love with the Dwarf’s grappling style very early on. Besides, Dwarves are one of the few bits of standard fantasy that I have a soft spot for, so it was an easy choice for me.

In my initial play session, I couldn’t get the hang of the pacing and enjoy myself. The story wasn’t doing anything for me; while it does have some twists, it leans heavily into the fantasy tropes that don’t interest me at all. It’s a story of political intrigue and power struggle, and if that sounds interesting to you, then Dragon’s Crown Pro’s story might work for you, but it didn’t do anything for me.

There comes a point, after a few hours of gameplay, where you’re able to join random online sessions and join players in their missions. It was at this point that the game really opened up for me, in the same way that Diablo III opened up for me after I got to its post-game content. There’s something extremely fun to me about just jumping into a match and helping people out by smashing enemies in familiar areas. The story of Dragon’s Crown made me not want to play Dragon’s Crown, to the point that I expected to never pick it up again after my review, but now I can easily see myself jumping into the game for an hour or so and diving in to some beat-em-up combat. I have no idea if the people I played with were fellow reviewers, experienced Japanese players, or players from the PS3 and Vita (yes, there’s cross-generation multiplayer!), but even though we couldn’t communicate, we had a good time.

The combat feels very fluid; you always feel like your character is doing exactly what you want them to do. I know that sounds basic, but it’s extremely important for what makes this game good. It feels like a streamlined Golden Axe, with some added RPG flair. I’ve honestly laregly ignored the stats so far, opting to just maximize what does the most damage and gives me the best defense. I’m sure spellcasters might need to pay more attention to the attributes of the equipment, but that’s simply not what I’m here for. All things to do with equipment (appraising it, equipping it, and waiting for the rogue character who accompanies you to open chests for it) feels like busywork that slows down my beat-em-up rampage. I’m sure these things become more important deep in the postgame content though, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

Speaking of keeping an eye on things, the art style is stunning. I didn’t get a chance to play in 4K (since I don’t own a PS4 Pro or a 4K television), but I imagine it looks absolutely stunning on those displays. It borrows some of the animation style from Vanillaware’s Odin’s Sphere, while adding more roughness and brashness to all of it. Some of you may remember there being some controversy back when the game initially came out. I can’t tell you how to feel with regard to that, but know that nothing has been changed here; there’s still oodles of gratuitous partial nudity and sexuality on display, which admittedly does give the game an edge that the standard D&D-like doesn’t have. Everything is exquisitely detailed, which, while beautiful, can lead to things getting hard to follow when you get into combat. There are several times during my playthrough where I lost track of my character in the melee and found them attacking nothing on the edge of the screen. It’s especially easy to get lost when your party has more than one of the same class. There are some palette differences you can pay attention to, but the lack of any difference in their silhouette can sometimes get you lost.

All of this is to say that, while Dragon’s Crown Pro isn’t exactly flawless, it’s a very good time for a very specific mood. Last generation had a glut of side-scrolling beat-em-ups, but as Dragon’s Crown Pro returns for the new generation, it stands virtually alone and above most competition. If you’re looking for a fun beat-em-up time with your friends, Dragon’s Crown Pro is for you. And if you’re worried about the story being a drag, don’t worry too much. If you can make your way through its early moments, you’ll be fighting with your friends online and having a blast.

If you’re interested, check out Dragon’s Crown Pro’s official website for more info. If you want to hear more Dragon’s Crown content, check out the Kana’s Korner interview with Erin Fitzgerald and America Young from 2013. Or if you want to hear about another Vanillaware game, check out my previous review of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir!

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