Before playing the Next Studios developer rogue-like dungeon crawler, Crown Trick, I believed I had a good understanding of the genre. You enter a dungeon where an enemy action follows a player’s action, and you try to get as far as you can without dying. While Crown Trick uses this as a foundation, the game has the flow of an action roguelike with a layer of strategic planning that requires players to use a variety of tools available if they hope to make it past the first floor. It essentially turns into a game that’s as addictive as it is challenging.
Crown Trick takes place in a nightmare dungeon where you are tasked with wearing a crown that grants you powers within the world. The dungeon crawling portions of the game take place while you sleep, but it’s also possible to explore your base, which resides outside of your dreams. As you progress through floors, you’ll save people who are then transferred to your base to provide you with various upgrades. Upgrades are purchased with blue crystals, which is also the only item that isn’t reset if you die.
Your first few times through will most likely be met with a quick death, but this is also determined by the random weapons you receive during any given run. Weapons have a variety of different bonuses and attack ranges, and understanding them will allow you to survive a little longer. For instance, I didn’t know that the gun takes one turn to reload every few shots, but it is extremely powerful and shoots four squares in front of you.
Weapons in Crown Trick are vast, and there seemed to be no end to the arsenal that I found myself equipping. In a dungeon, only one weapon can be held at a time, so the choice of what to take with you is crucial, especially when coming up to a boss. In the event that the random weapons you are given are totally useless, you could also rely on items to get you through tough encounters, or you can even use the environment.
Being a turn-based dungeon crawler, you are allowed to take your time and plan out your attack. This is also encouraged during a run by entering challenge rooms that require you to clear the room in several turns or take no damage. Understanding your items, abilities, and weapons and the effect that they have on the environment is another crucial component to making it through a dungeon.
To help players are a few magical abilities granted by Summons. These are monster sub-bosses that lend you their power after they are defeated. Using their skills is a massive help during some boss encounters, and you are allowed to choose which you want to bring with you by using crystals found in a dungeon. So, in other words, the environment should be treated as a possible weapon, and the developers have provided you with several ways to exploit this. It makes for a highly strategic system that had me staring at the screen and planning out how I can survive tough situations.
The gameplay is extremely fluid in Crown Trick, almost to a fault. There were times where it didn’t feel like a turn-based dungeon crawler, but I was quickly reminded it was after I died from rushing in. Players also have a warp dash ability that can be used a number of times and recharge during battle. This allows players to warp across the room or past obstacles to put some space between them and the enemy or set themselves up to trigger an environmental trap.
One thing that stood out to me was the overall design of the characters and enemies. Furthermore, the attacks of the enemies match their design, which is extremely important, considering you don’t always know what they are capable of. Some enemy attacks even require a charge that gives you time to evade. This forces you to weigh your actions, especially if you don’t have any dashes left. Enemies can be staggered by breaking their armor counter, which will allow you to lay your most potent attacks on them. This is also found on bosses, which is extremely helpful.
There are other elements found in the dungeon that could help or hinder your experience. There are gacha machines to spend your money on, ruins that give you a choice that could end with you becoming stronger or weaker, and treasure chests full of items and gold. It makes exploring floors a bit more interesting as you never really know what you’re going to encounter.
Crown Trick is turning into my most anticipated dungeon-crawler of 2020. It is beautiful, challenging, and has some unique features that make it an addictive experience. I died way too many times than I’d like to admit, but I kept going back for more. The gameplay loop of unlocking new weapons, gaining new abilities, and improving your base throughout each run makes it tough not to want to jump back in and test out your new-found skills each time you die.
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