The dragons in Crimson Dragon soar low and under deliver.
Crimson Dragon is a re-imagination of an old-school on-rail shooter from the 1990s called Panzer Dragoon. Panzer Dragoon’s concept was quite simple, you rode on a dragon that followed a pre-determined path through each of the levels, killed creatures on the way and fight a challenging boss. A follow up was released for the original Xbox titled Panzer Dragoon Orta; the game was highly successful in terms of capturing its predecessor’s magic. Unfortunately the next gen iteration is a mess.
The art style in Crimson Dragon is fitting and matches well with the colorful dragons. However, the game has a couple of technical issues due to bad optimization. First of all the game struggles to run at a steady frame rate and dips a lot and it does not get any better due to the several pop-in issues hampering the overall experience. The sound effects and voice acting in this game are dull and just feel really empty. The soundtrack is also completely forgettable.
"Given the setting, the game had the potential to look and feel great, but horrible optimization really hurts the representation of Crimson Dragon and the overall package just feels rushed."
Given the setting, the game had the potential to look and feel great, but horrible optimization really hurts the representation of Crimson Dragon and the overall package just feels rushed. The story in the game is there, but it’s so boring that you won’t even care to follow it. As previously stated, the voice acting in this game is cheesy, sounds tacky and it doesn’t help to move the story anywhere whatsoever. To put it simply, Crimson Dragon’s visual and audio presentation is a disappointment for a next-generation digital title.
Gameplay wise Crimson Dragon controls a bit different from its predecessors. The dragon still follows a linear pre-determined path throughout the level, but you have the ability to shift your it left or right to avoid oncoming obstacles. You can lock on to monsters; unleash a variety of attacks depending on the dragon you’re riding and so on. Players may also freely shoot anywhere they’d like instead of just locking on to enemies.
The biggest change in terms of gameplay in Crimson Dragon is the RPG system.You can level up, grind for items, unlock new dragons and upgrade everything by replaying levels in the game and scoring higher for more experience. Other than that everything else in the game is similar to the previous ones in the series.
"If you’re trying to achieve the best score possible in the first few levels then you will be disappointed as you will need to spend sometime leveling up your dragon’s abilities. This can easily put off a lot of players and make them feel that investing their time in Crimson Dragon is unworthy."
The overall gameplay concept is good on paper, but it’s poorly executed. The game feels bland the moment you start playing it. It takes a long time to get everything and that can be a good thing if you’re into these types of grind fests. The problem is that your dragon is so weak at the start of the game that the attacks don’t feel powerful at all until you have progressed way further down. In Crimson Dragon you can also hire a wingman that will fight by your side. However, the AI is dumb and the wingman does not really add anything unique to gameplay. Avoid the wingman at all costs; you’re better off upgrading your actual dragon instead.
If you’re trying to achieve the best score possible in the first few levels then you will be disappointed as you will need to spend a lot of time leveling up your dragon’s abilities. This can easily put off a lot of players and make them feel that investing their time in Crimson Dragon is unworthy.
Overall, Crimson Dragon had some great gameplay ideas that would’ve actually benefited the game in the long run if they were properly implemented and designed in the first place. Also, the game’s lackluster presentation and technical issues don’t help the matter either. The game can be fun at times if you don’t mind the grind and enjoy the arcade-like gameplay of previous titles. The controls in the game are good and there is a lot of stuff to unlock if you’re cool with replaying levels over and over again to upgrade your dragon and ace everything. It’s really hard to recommend this game even at its low-price point of $20.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
A lot of stuff to unlock, art style is nice, controls great.
Poorly executed gameplay ideas, dull story and voice acting, frame-rate dips and graphical glitches, dragons feel way too weak at the beginning of the game.
Crimson Dragon had the potential to be a AAA digital title for the Xbox One. Instead, it fails to deliver solid gameplay and it's also riddled with technical issues that drag the experience further down.