Death Crown is a real time strategy game with a really unique art style. While most games these days seem to be either heading towards hyper realistic graphics or an over-the-top colorful cartoon style, Death Crown has instead simplified things with a very minimalist 1-bit look. The default colors are black and white but you can switch between lots of different color palettes in the settings. It’s a really distinctive look that will definitely catch your eye.
There are a number of different gameplay modes. The Campaign mode will see you getting to wage war as Death herself. There is a story but it can be a little hard to work out what’s going on as there are no voice overs or text in the brief cutscenes. The main gist of it seems to be that a King has tricked Death and stolen her crown. As you can imagine this has made her a tad pissed off and so she brings her armies of the dead to wipe him and his kingdom out.
At the beginning of each battle you’ll start off on the opposite side of the map to your enemy. The aim is to protect your citadel while sending out your armies to attack the opposition. You can only build on the hexagonal tiles that are next to your territory, this means that you’ll have to slowly expand your way across the map and try to stop the enemy from doing the same. There are three different types of buildings that you can make, mines that produce gold, defense towers to throw projectiles at any nearby enemies, and a graveyard where your army of the dead arise.
Death Crown PS4 Review – Keep it Simple, Stupid
Sometimes strategy games can get a little complicated with heaps of menus to dig through but things are kept pretty simple here. Each building type is assigned to one button on the controller, so you just need to hover over an empty tile and tap a specific button to build. You can also quickly destroy a building with just one tap, which is handy when you need to quickly change strategy mid-battle. Telling your army where to go is also easy as you just drag the cursor from each graveyard to wherever you want that unit to go and fight.
At the beginning of each battle the main thing that will impede your progress will be lack of funds. Things can feel a little slow at this point but once you build a couple of mines it won’t take long before you can start expanding across the map. Of course the enemy isn’t just sitting on their hands, they’ll be doing the same as you. The action definitely intensifies as you get closer to each other and try to destroy each others buildings and steal territory.
It’s a very straightforward approach to a strategy game and at first feels really fun and exciting. Each battle is snappy and will usually only take a matter of minutes to reach their conclusion. Unfortunately it doesn’t take long before it all starts to feel fairly repetitive. The game tries to mix things up by introducing new types of obstacles such as different types of terrain; things like mountains that your armies can’t cross, or tiles that will occasionally have spikes rise up from the ground. But none of these things do anything to really change the gameplay, you’ll still be using the exact same methods to overcome each battle.
There are a handful of boss battles which do inject some much needed variety into the battles. They usually have some new and quirky tactic that you have to learn how to overcome, such as the enemy being able to steal some of your territory at set intervals, or a swamp monster that can move its whole body to a random point on the map. These battles were the most fun so it’s a shame that there weren’t more of them.
Another issue that Death Crown has is that sometimes the map can get a little bit too busy. The 1-bit art style can make it hard to see what’s going on as both you and the enemy are the same color. While early maps are mostly fine, it becomes more of an issue the further you get through the campaign when the maps become larger and more complex.
Death Crown PS4 Review – Team Death
As well as playing through the campaign as Death you can also play as a barbarian trying to fight back against the hordes of undead, as well as a demon who is fighting against Death. While all three campaigns are visually very distinctive they all have pretty much the same gameplay. You’ll have access to different buildings but you’ll only ever have three and mechanically they all work in the exact same way. So, for example, while Death built graveyards to unleash her army, the barbarian will build barracks, and the demon will build portals to summon warriors.
When you tire of the campaign mode there is a Dominion mode which is basically a survival mode where you’ll get to try to win as many battles against the AI as you can. Again, the gameplay is pretty much the same as the campaign mode but you’ll get to rack up a high score depending on how many buildings you make and destroy, as well as how many times you can win in a row. There’s also a Versus mode where you can play against a friend in local multiplayer, sadly there isn’t an online mode.
There were a number of bugs that I came across while playing such as the game freezing after battles, forcing me to reset. As well as the cursor disappearing while on the world map which meant that I couldn’t select the next battle. As each battle only lasts for a few minutes I never lost too much progress but it was still annoying.
While this strategy game does a great job at creating a unique look, the gameplay doesn’t really do enough to hold your attention. It’s pretty simplistic and won’t take long for you to master which unfortunately means that it ends up feeling fairly repetitive. It’s a shame as when the game does introduce new mechanics in the boss fights things can get pretty interesting but there just aren’t enough of these types of battles.
Death Crown review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on PlayStation 5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.