Developer: NExt Studios
Genre: Roguelike, Dungeon Crawler
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 16/10/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
The Crown Will Trick But Only
If You Let It.
Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were a kid? Probably not, most people reading this are a lot younger than me and were probably on Snapchat or something instead. They were books that at the end of certain points in the story, you chose what to do and turned to the appropriate page to see what happened. There are parts of Crown Trick that are like that but the only difference is that Crown Trick repeatedly kills you and I cant then turn back to the other page to rectify my mistake as I could in the books I once adored.
You play as Elle, you are stuck in the realm of nightmares but luckily you have a small, sometimes annoying crown to help you. He often makes snide comments, belittles you and I know he is trying to help but sometimes I really want to punch him in his smug face. He is also a little bit mysterious, he knows about you, knows why you are here but constantly plays with his cards against his chest. It’s very mysterious indeed. It is your job to enter the ever-shifting dream labyrinth, unravel its secrets and pick up remarkable loot on the way.
A Strange Beast
Crown Trick is a strange beast when trying to locate a genre slot to slide it into. It’s a weird shape, it’s an RPG, a roguelike, a turn-based battler that feels, a lot of the time like it’s played in real-time. In fact, a lot of the time early on, I forgot it was turn-based and ended up getting pummeled back to the starting hub. It took me many attempts and many brain reworks to train myself to get used to the flow of this quirky little dungeon crawler.
Time runs differently in this realm. Things only move when you move in a Crypt of the Necromancer manner, minus the crunchy, funky beats. As I said earlier, I did have issues early on, I was trying to play the game like an action RPG, rather than taking my time and weighing up what to do next. It was once I got to grips with the turn-based stuff and it’s nuances that the game really became enjoyable. To be fair it perfectly mimics how I take on my real life, just blundering through like a bull in a china shop. Fun times.
Crown Trick is made up of two parts. Just like any other roguelike, your persistent currency can be spent in the hub on various upgrades, then you must use these upgrades along with random loot to negotiate the puzzle laid ahead of you. What is laid ahead of you is a little vexatious thing I like to call the ever-changing dungeon of death. Be afraid, luckily, NPC’s that you rescue from within the shifting walls of the labyrinth will become upgrade merchants. They can then provide various improvements to make you next jaunt into the dungeon slightly more manageable, better potions, more currency gain, you know the drill.
Another small but helpful detail are the familiars. For each boss, you defeat you are treated to a familiar of the said boss to take on your travels. This familiar gives you access to various magical and fantastic abilities that really can make or break each run you undertake. Fire, ice, poison and even abilities to push enemies away are all at your fingertips. You can only have two familiars at once though so picking the correct combo is paramount. It’s also helpful to try and blend them with appropriate weapons, skills and relics to further increase their effectiveness.
Back to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, as I said I loved them as a kid and there are rooms in Crown Trick that remind me of them. You will approach an obelisk, you are then treated to a small snippet of information and a few choices a bit like the aforementioned books of my youth. Sometimes it works out well and you gain wealth, power or loot but sometimes, just sometimes you wish you had not touched the obelisk and just carried on with your day. Oh well, it’s just another random factor in this ever-shifting random dungeon of death. That is what I love about roguelikes though, every run is different, every delve is a fresh start and it’s always unpredictable.
Lovely Random Generation
There are many other little features and random occurrences in Crown Trick too. Things like Gacha machines that give random weapons and they are mostly infuriating. This is why I don’t gamble in real life, I saw the inventory, with its nice shiny rare weapons, spent all my hard-earned cash on it and got nothing but twaddle. I felt robbed. It was fun though. I also really liked the Enter the Gungeon style teleportation system. It makes backtracking and exploring effortless by cutting down on retreading rooms you have already explored.
The combat system in Crown Trick is as deep as it is rewarding. You have multiple weapon types, the afore-mentioned familiar abilities and even things like the environment come into play. You can use barrels, traps and other hazards to help whittle down your opponents HP. This along with the turn-based, very tactical battle system leads to a very intricate chess-like dance. As long as you take your time and survey your battlefield, you can emerge smiling and victorious.
Git Gud, Seriously Though, Learn the Systems
Crown Trick is not easy, there were times, early on where I thought I would never progress. As I got used to the fact that I could take my time and not worry as much. As I studied my foes and started playing it more like a tactical RPG instead of a hack and slash RPG things started to make more sense. Things started to click and I began progressing further. I like the fact the game does not hold your hand and you are left with two options, give up and go home with your tail between your legs or learn the game and succeed. Too many games nowadays hold your hand and drag you through. I enjoyed fumbling and tripping over myself while I learned Crown Tricks, well to think of a better word for it, its tricks. It’s was all good fun and a great learning experience.
From a presentation viewpoint, Crown Trick is absolutely astonishing. From the moment this beautiful title lights up the Nintendo Switch your eyes are treated to something magnificent. The game starts with a lovely cartoon that is as elegant as it is brilliant. It was at this point I realized how well produced the art is in this game. It has a great hard-drawn, fantasy quality to it that I really loved. It’s heartwarming, quaint and I just want to cuddle it to death. The music and sound is not quite up to the same level but is perfectly serviceable. It fits the style of the game well and fits the themes well.
Slight Frame Hitching
I did have a few performance issues when playing, which is unfortunate. Luckily it was neither game-breaking nor too bothersome. Sometimes when entering a new room or when activating some of your abilities, the game would miss a few frames. It would stutter or hitch a little. As I said though it was not too frequent and due to this being a turn-based game, it was never overly irksome. Hopefully, the devs can patch a fix soon, do not let it sway you from taking a look at the game though. I just feel I need to mention it.
Rewarding, Beautiful and Fun
Crown Trick will initially kick your ass. It will kill you over and over until you give it the respect it needs and learn it’s many systems. It is simply beautiful, different every time and has a moreish quality to it that will keep you returning. Every death is your own doing, every loss must be learned from and if you do, you will find a very rewarding, charming roguelike that you can get properly stuck into. Let’s just hope the small performance issue gets sorted.
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you would like to buy Crown Trick for your Nintendo Switch, you can pick it up from the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.