Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown originally released on the PlayStation 3 and Vita in 2013 to critical acclaim after being stuck in development hell, scrapped, sent back to the drawing board, repeat for several years. It was a charming game with detailed and rather complex side-scrolling action combat. It greatly helps that the art style is just breathtaking as well. Vanillaware calls it a “storybook art style.” In my uncultured eyes, it’s a lovely mixture of hand-drawn sketches, watercolor, and oil painting. Even if you do get easily offended by the ginormous breast sizes of some of the women, you have to admit that they’re drawn and colored well.
Dragon’s Crown Pro is merely an upgrade to the PlayStation 4 (and PS4 Pro) from the so-last-console-season PlayStation 3. Very little has changed about it, save for the sharper and clearer art. This is an amazing treat for those who missed Dragon’s Crown for the first time, but it’s hard to say if it’s worth visiting the Adventurer’s Guild once more after finding the literal Dragon’s Crown five years ago.
Dragon’s Crown Pro does not introduce any new adventurers. You still have your options of the Amazon, the Elf ranger, the Fighter, the Dwarf, the Wizard, and the Sorceress. Since the Elf, the Wizard, and the Sorceress all require arsenal management and have little defense, Vanillaware designated them as “Expert” characters. If it’s your first time playing the game, it’s certainly best to choose either the Amazon, the Fighter, or the Dwarf. These three are tank characters with high offense and even higher defense. (Even though the Amazon is dressed like Red Sonja, she still has a higher defense stat than the fully covered Wizard.) From the beginning, you can easily button mash your way to victory.
However, that button-mashing tactic will only work in the beginning. It doesn’t take long before the game becomes far too chaotic to rely upon a frantic mashing of the square button.
It also doesn’t take long before your character can unlock so many skills that that square button alone just won’t cut it. By completing quests at the Adventurer’s Guild, you can unlock skills for your character that range from your basic health and mana boosts to unique attacks. These are absolutely imperative for the ranged characters, especially the magic-wielders. How else are they going to learn new spells?
I know I’ve already said that the beat-em-up action gets nuts, but let me emphasize that this gets worse when other characters dance on the screen. If you bring in other players or even AI players, things get crazy quite quickly. I never learned to not lose my character in the shuffle. In nearly every clash, I’d mistake a Wizard for my character instead of my Elf. Each character has a different colored circle surrounding their feet, but with all the colors flashing, spells flying, and general mayhem, I lost track of my character nearly every battle.
Do You Wanna Go on a Side Quest?
Dragon’s Crown Pro does have an overarching story, but it’s not anything special to write home about. Take your typical DnD or other fantasy adventure about a magical relic of power and insert it here. The brilliance in Dragon’s Crown instead lies within the unique design of each mission. Even though you may tread the same ground over and over again with all of the various side quests offered in the Adventurer’s Guild, and yes, the second half of the story, no quest or mission are alike in presentation or completion.
For example, a side quest might send you back to an area you’ve tread before, but maybe you’ll have to use Rannie to unlock a door you didn’t notice your first five treks through. Or maybe you’ll have to trigger a specific boss to appear. Or perhaps you’ll need to defeat the boss in a certain manner. As a result, it’s very difficult to get bored, no matter how many times you replay. This is one game that certainly knows how to do replayability right. Whether it’s by choosing a different class or playing a different mission, there are always ways to change up your adventure.
We Know This Already. What’s New?
I previously mentioned that “very little has changed” between Dragon’s Crown and Dragon Crown’s Pro. The big obvious difference is that it’s now playable on the PS4 and PS4 Pro. It’s also possible to upload older saves from your PS3 or Vita and then download them into your PS4 version. All three platforms can cross-play with one another, so you’ll never have to worry about who owns which platform if you want to get some co-op time in.
The biggest change involved the DualShock 4’s touch pad. Players can use it like they used the touchscreen in the Vita version. If you want Rannie to open a chest, run your finger over the touch pad like it’s a mouse touch pad, move the pointer to the chest, and then press on the touch pad to signal him to unlock it. It takes time getting used to, that’s for certain, as it’s definitely not as intuitive as the Vita’s touchscreen. It’s also fairly awkward to do in the middle of a fight. Yeah, I should be focusing more on the number of arrows in my quiver instead of the locked door, but I could never help myself. It’s almost as bad as constantly losing my character on-screen.
Dragon’s Crown Pro is that same Dragon’s Crown we all loved and remember from 2013, it’s just shinier, prettier, and on the latest console. If you’ve already played it to completion (or simply to death) on other platforms, there’s very little reason to come back for a second purchase. All three versions share the same Trophy list, so there’s not even that perk to entice Trophy hunters. However, if you’ve never hunted down that Crown or cooed at owlbear cubs before they maul you, it’s time to stop at the Dragon’s Haven Inn. Adventure (and a thief with a tiny head and large hands) awaits.
Dragon’s Crown Pro review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.