Dragon’s Crown released back in 2013 to much acclaim (and a little controversy, which frankly I won’t bother to get into). An homage to brawlers/fantasy action of old such as Golden Axe and Guardian Heroes, and generally an all-around stylistic wonder and excellent game. Perhaps to no one’s surprise then, that these few years later, the PS3 and Vita game has been re-released on PS4 as the Pro edition – an upgrade featuring better visuals and a handful of new features.

To those who experienced the title originally, it will obviously need no introduction, but for those who missed out, I’ll give a description for your sake. The game is set in a sword and sorcery styled medieval fantasy universe, where orcs and magical beings roam the land. A band of four adventurers, of which you are one,  discover a quest and plot to uncover a legendary relic known as the Dragon’s Crown. Others are also in pursuit, perhaps with sinister motivations, and so it becomes your cause to find it first.

The game is presented in 2.5D with dungeons segmented by screens in which you must fight a variety of enemies before progressing. In these dungeons, either on your own or, more likely, with three other heroes, you’ll hack and slash your way through, picking up loot and gold until you reach the final screen, concluding in a boss fight. The results screen then shows you what grades of loot you have acquired, as well as how many points and how much gold you’ve earned. When you get back to town you can spend money appraising your gear to discover their stats, then if the items are an improvement on your current loadout you can equip them, or sell them if not.

Experience is gained at the end of the dungeons as well, and these will gradually raise your level, resulting in skill point gain. Skill points can be spent on two branches. Firstly the common branch which includes generic skills useful for all, such as increased health, more points earned from picking up loot, etc; and the second which is specific to your character class. These include 6 heroes with their own skills and abilities – the Sorceress, the Amazon, the Elf, the Dwarf, the Wizard and the Fighter. Wizard and Sorceress skills will revolve more around magic, Dwarf and Fighter skills around strength, and so on. Skills can often be upgraded multiple times, costing more as they do, and so you need to choose wisely depending on your play style – as the Amazon, for example, I enjoyed using the ground slam a lot, and so invested in making that more powerful.

Dungeons are reached from a hub town area, from where you will prepare yourself – choosing your gear and companions – and where you can talk to story related characters and accept side quests. Side quests generally involve replaying dungeons and killing a certain number of enemies, but some are more interesting, such as searching levels for hidden areas and items. Upon completing these you will be rewarded with gold, experience and skill points, and also a nice piece of art and lore. These are initially introduced in slow, linear fashion, but once the game opens up they become almost difficult to keep on top of – so rest assured there is plenty to get on with. The town also provides a couple of shops from which you can buy items – such as healing potions, bombs, magical bracelets and runes – and a church from which you can resurrect bones you find in dungeons. These bones become heroes that you can use in the dungeons, and as you go along you will end up replacing them with higher levelled companions. All of this, of course, costs money, and so there is a constant cycle of clearing dungeons for loot, while spending to appraise gear and resurrect allies.

The combat is impactful and satisfying, and there is a good range of enemy types to mix encounters up. Though don’t expect anything particularly complex. There are a handful of combos you can unlock, but it’s mostly simple. I will say, however, when playing with a full roster of companions, the screen does get a little too hectic and it can be difficult to follow your own character – not to mention the AI frequently pulling you off screen – but then again this can be amended as the game allows you to close off ally slots individually if you want to travel alone or just with one or two other characters.

The art and world design of Dragon’s Crown is gorgeous, with lavish and stylised backgrounds and characters. All of this is improved with the addition of 4k in this Pro edition (for which you need the PS4 pro and a compatible TV/monitor), and I’d definitely say for those that haven’t played the game yet, this is the definitive version. The sound design and music fits the art and settings of each dungeon perfectly, and there are some truly great musical accompaniments to the gameplay. This also has been evolved in the Pro edition, with the option of switching between the original score and a newly recorded orchestral one, both of which are great in my opinion. This version also features cross play with the PS3 and Vita versions if you dabble in coop, and you have a choice of Japanese and English audio options.

Aside from these few additions, and of course the included DLC narrator voice pack, that’s pretty much all there is to Dragon’s Crown Pro. It is a remaster in the literal sense – no extravagant bells and whistles, just improvements and additions in a few vital areas for an improved experience. And that’s essentially where you will have to decide for yourself whether or not the game is worth acquiring. For those who haven’t played, absolutely it is – there’s no reason to go back to the older versions, and the game itself is excellent – but for those who have played it already, if you have a hankering to dive back in then I’d say the upgrades are worth it, though not a reason in itself to go back. However as a bonus it does comes with cross support for your save files as well, so you won’t necessarily have to start from scratch if you wanted to carry on from your previous version.

The game still holds up nearly five years on, and while the combat may not be anything exceptional, it is still engaging, and the world, its characters and the narration of the story give the game a unique charm. So if you’re looking for some old-school inspired fantasy action, then this is sure to please.



Author

John Little
John Little

I started gaming with the release of the PS1 - Crash Bandicoot and Ridge Racer Revolution being the first 'real' games I ever set eyes on - and have been enthralled with the medium ever since. I particularly love strategy and horror games, the sort offered by titles such as Total War and Silent Hill, though I also have a soft spot for a good RPG. I studied Journalism at university in the hopes of progressing into writing about games, but my 'real job' is as a postman. You'll most likely find me covering indie games as I'm always on the look out for interesting little titles, and generally I stick to the PC and PS4 platforms. I'm not interested in MMOs or really any kind of online game, and I have an unusual and frankly worryingly expensive obsession with collecting gaming guide books, but aside from that I like to think I'm a well rounded average gamer. Find me on twitter @JohnLittle29