During E3 2013, we spent some time with Dragon's Crown, an action-packed, side-scrolling role-playing game with the heart of an old school arcade title.
The game supports four players on-screen at the same time, and those spots can be filled with human or computer players. During our run through the Ancient Temple Ruins levels, we accompanied the Amazon, Sorceress and Elf as the Dwarf. The Dwarf is a more melee-based character who deals heavy damage. His attacks are sometimes harder to land, but deliver a devastating blow when successful. Switching to the Elf character, we were able to perform long-range attacks with a bow and arrow. Arrows are not infinite, however, and must be rationed or picked up off the ground to replenish the Elf's quiver. The Elf can also perform physical blows, including downward kicks, to deal damage at close range.
Both characters are vastly different in theory, but playing either felt similar, thanks to some instinctive button-mashing reminiscent of other, similar fast-paced arcade games. The enemies I encountered during my demo required very little skill to defeat and were taken out with a few simple blows. My experience with the demo was heightened by my fellow adventurers, who joined me mid-level. With human players at my side, the game became a mix of cooperative battling and a race to kill the most enemies the fastest.
Along the way, we encountered several treasure chests. These chests can be selected via cursor and lock-picked by a thief companion that travels with the party. It's a good idea to stand clear of the thief while he works — chests will contain traps just as often as treasure. Players can easily regain health during levels by picking up food along the way. As soon as the player stops moving, characters will automatically begin to eat and regenerate their lost health. Characters that die can also easily be resurrected, for a small fee.
Although I did not reach the boss during my demo, a representative told me that each level will have a final boss that marks the level's conclusion. True to the nature of a final boss, the battle will require more effort and team work from the players involved. Once a boss has been defeated, a menu displaying player stats from the level will appear, rewarding experience and bonuses. Character leveling is static — you can't choose to level specific attributes like HP, for example — but players will receive points that they can allocate to specific skills for a more personal experience.
Dragon's Crown will launch this August for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.