Crown Trick Switch Review
Source: Screen capture

Despite a cracking intro scene, Crown Trick didn’t resonate on first impressions. With a week of fishing, kung-fu revenge and classic action figure shooters, it could be said there’s been a fair amount of genres to dip into. 

RPG’s are notoriously time-consuming, so I needed to be able to commit, and love the character, Elle. My first thoughts were ‘where are her arms and legs?… the lazy animators’, but after a few awkward hops across flames, a plethora of poisons and walking into enemies, I started to feel an attachment to her as if one of her phantom appendages.

My reservations were that this was a Crypt of the NecroDancer title, and while I enjoyed that somewhat, I don’t want to play another one quite yet. Like Nexomon Extinction, the controls are four-way direction only, no diagonals. This was going to be tricky, crown tricky…

Crown Trick Switch Review

Elle wakes up in a nightmare – specifically, the Nightmare Realm. It’s not as horrific as you might imagine as the visuals in Crown Trick are cute, sharp and familiar, but it’s not a universe anyone would want to be trapped in, hence the ‘nightmare’ bit.

Crown Trick - Loot
Gimme the loot. Source: PR

Fortunately, the titular crown of the title; The CrownCrownySpud – whatever you want to call him (the first is the official one), he has agreed to help you. They are the guardian of the Nightmare Realm and have informed you that the nightmares are going to take over the world, all because of a revolting human.

Rather than do the dirty work, he has no opposable thumbs; he enlists you, Elle, to defeat the nasty human and keep the line between us normals and the nightmares very divided. It’s no easy task, but Crowny is going to assist you, providing counsel and also magic, plus he’ll show you how to enlist enemy forces.

Additionally, while Elle doesn’t sport arms, she can carry either melee or ranged weapons that hover alongside her. Like most RPG games, well most games, there are breakable objects such as crates that are automatically destroyed if you barge into them. On the downside, you have to go pick up the contents. Magic is one-sided.

Overly Familiar

Putting aside the basics for a moment, one of the key aspects of Crown Trick is recruiting a familiar. Reading about these in the guides had me believe that I’d be able to ‘pick one up’ or unlock through progression. While the latter is technically true, you do have to beat one of these bosses before they join your ranks.

With this familiar, you can equip them, alongside others like a loadout, and swap between them and obliterate an enemy. Especially useful if they have elemental weaknesses. Alas, they are limited in use, so you have to summon them sparingly.

As for the main combat, it’s sort of turn-based. You move on tiles freely at any point, but each movement in battle shifts to one tile at a time, allowing for the enemy to engage, embrace and caress you. For free movement, the joystick is fine, but I would recommend switching to the d-pad as it prevents you from moving too sharply – particularly when that’s falling off an edge or joining with something bad for your health.

Crown Trick - Laser
Laser squad. Source: PR

You typically have the option to pick a weapon best suited to your preference. Sometimes these have a high strength attack, or maybe a delayed effect but spreads over several tiles and causes more damage in the long run. Ranged weapons are food for getting your distance, but for me, like always melee mixed with the off familiar was the way to go.

Blink And You’ll Miss It

The movement was quite tricky as you can’t move diagonally, and as mentioned, using the analogue stick can result in a few user errors. Free movement was mostly good, but in battles it’s obviously restricted; evasive techniques are usually focused around one tile at a time.

This is where the Blink ability comes into play. Elle sports a pair of boots that allow her to teleport across several tiles at a time, not through laziness, but to avoid attacks and also to teleport part walls, sometimes made of fire. It’s one of the best skills you can use, but again, at a sacrifice of mana.

It’s easy enough to refill your majestical juices at numerous checkpoint areas, as well as an abundance of waypoints that you can shift to from your world map, quashing the challenge oh so slightly, but Crown Trick is a demanding game – notably the time required, but also because it boasts rogue-like elements.

That said, it doesn’t feel like a run of the mill title, like so many other rogue-likes. Equally, Crown Trick isn’t a one-trick pony, nor is it a game that emulates other successful titles such as the Zelda series or any other RPG of the same nature. If you want to deem Zelda a conventional RPG.

Defender Of The Crown

Crown Trick - Local Slots
The local slots. Source: PR

Like any decent rogue-like or RPG, you can improve on your abilities, unlock new gear and familiars, it’s just that you lose anything you can carry. Fortunately, familiars are exactly pocketable items. As you progress, you rescue NPCs that can aid your quest.

One such character granted health upgrades that were two-a-penny to purchase, then there was an almighty spike in cost. In other words, expect a grind. It’s important to persevere with levelling everything up to your needs, as some of the early bosses hit pretty hard with more than enough debuffs thrown in.

But as you can imagine, navigate through a few of the mazes and before you know it, going back to those earlier bosses are a doddle. It’s just that 40 hours have passed and you need another shave. Crown Trick isn’t the kind of game I seek out, but it easily bats with the big boys and earns a place in amongst your library.

Crown Trick is out now on the Nintendo Switch and Steam from NeXT Studios – also behind Biped and Death Coming, and one of my favourite publishers, Team17.

Crown Trick Switch Review
8 / 10 Verdict
Pros
  • RPG/rogue-like without overwhelming controls.
  • Brilliant presentation - crisp, if you will.
  • A multitude of stats, spells and familiars.
  • Cons
  • Movement is overly sensitive with the analogue stick.
  • Requires a bit of time to appreciate.
  • Combat can be (heh) tricky.
  • Crown Trick smells like it's part of the rogue-like/RPG bandwagon. While it has the scent, it's a standout title that features some decent mechanics such as the familiars, beautiful, crisp visuals and an overall enjoyable experience that begs to be played.
    Rating

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