Developer: Next Studios
Publisher: Team 17
Review Context: I generally enjoy playing rogue-lites and rogue-like games with games. Sword and the Stars: The Pit is a game I really enjoyed playing years ago, which is part of the reason I was looking forward to Crown Trick.
Date of Playthrough: October 2020
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
Crown Trick, developed by NEXT Studios, is a rogue-lite game that I initially discovered during Summer Steam Game Festival and was even more interested in the full game after playing the demo. Rogue-lite games are a growing genre, but the tactical gameplay style of enemies moving only when you move in Crown Trick is part of a much thinner subset of the genre. Since I only played a slice of the game in June, playing the full version was something that I was waiting for.
Playing as Elle, you start the game meeting Crown, a talking character that ends up sitting on your head as you play through the game. Elle is stuck in a nightmare brought upon by a man named Vlad, who she has to try to stop. Crown helps guide Elle through the labyrinth and also teaches her basic powers and restrictions within. The procedurally generated floors/levels are a small part of what makes Crown Trick a very enjoyable and challenging gameplay experience. Given that this is a rogue-lite game, I expected the game to feel grindy like most rogue-lites, but initially it did not feel that way.
As you move through the levels with enemies moving only when you move, the concept is not as difficult as it may sound, but the tactics of what to do with skills and items is the more challenging part. The biggest rogue-lite element of Crown Trick is you have to defeat elite monsters, Familiars, which have two skills attached to them and after you kill them you inherit their powers to use on your skill bar. The game has a lot of Familiars to defeat and collect, but you can only use two Familiars at a time, giving you a total of four skills. The challenge as you play and choose your items is choosing the best two Familiar combination for your weapons. You will find yourself making tough choices and experimenting because as you collect more and more Familiars they can only be changed at a crystal and you are given a random choice of three to only pick one at a time.
Given all the random weapons and items that can spawn in the beginning, the RNG feels much less punishing than it does later in the game. The game features close-reach melee weapons, long-reach melee weapons, and ranged weapons, with all of them working better with certain Familiars over others. As both a positive and negative of the game, there are many different kinds of items that are collected, and items like consumable items need to be managed well for maximum efficiency. Every item, weapon or consumable, shows a nice grid tooltip of its range, and managing using consumables can be a bit tedious with how the consumables are presented on your toolbar with a tiny arrow to scroll between them. Although most of the UI in Crown Trick is very well presented and easy to scroll through, consumable presentation and scrolling could be better, like adding hotkeys for each item because the Familiar hotkeys only take up one through four. Besides weapons and consumables, relics are also a major item drop that can give you a boost of your choosing, as most relic drops will provide a random choice of three relics to choose one. You’ll likely choose a relic that fits your build. Most relics are pretty good, with relics ranging in different rarity just like weapons that can make your experience much easier. Crown Trick also features different elements to build around if you choose, like fire, water, electricity, or poison. Other item drops include gold that can be spent at shops and blueprints for unlocking new items or weapons.
As you keep play Crown Trick you’ll notice another element of tactics that needs to be managed, which are your Blink Boots. This may be the most interesting part of the tactics in the game because you have Blink Boots that have a certain amount of charges,, but get recharged every room. The tactical part of using Blink Boots is that it doesn’t count as a move, meaning enemies wont move when you blink giving you a chance to teleport into a better position. The other part of tactical combat that you can do is “break” enemies, which can recharge your blink boots. Breaking enemies in a chain gives a temporary boost in damage for a certain amount turns, so that also becomes a manageable part of Crown Trick combat. All of these things add up to a robust tactical experience. But what happens if you die?
Crown Trick‘s other rogue-lite element besides merely collecting Familars is spending soul shards that drop from bosses. When you eventually die, you’ll find yourself in the Hall of Reincarnation where you’ll be able to spend soul shards on permanent upgrades can range from boosting your elixir, altering weapon drops and choices at the beginning of a run, and eventually stat upgrades. These choices are unlocked as you play because you have to rescue various individuals first, which is another minor issue I had with the game as the text boxes of these individuals when rescuing them got in the way of the board making it harder to move. The rogue-lite upgrade experience in Crown Trick has a much different feeling in the beginning of the game as you march towards defeating Vlad because it didn’t feel grindy or hugely necessary at all. The rogue-lite feeling and experience does eventually take a turn later.
The procedurally generated labyrinth that you explore certainly gives some The Binding of Isaac vibes, as there are many different rooms you can encounter where you can make sacrifices for boons and roll the dice if you dare with bad penalties if you’re unlucky. The map itself in Crown Trick is very clean and easy to read and navigate with a map legend on the right to properly guide you, whether you decide to fight more monsters to risk for better loot, or rush straight to the boss. Another major drop of the game is Dream Fragments, which are story texts of different sets that randomly drop and when you collect them all something special will happen.
Crown Trick is a game with great gameplay and tactics, but the story and presentation I feel could be better. Difficult to describe without spoiling, as I alluded to above the rogue-lite element starts off feeling unnecessary, but quickly ramps up later in the game to the point it actually does feel somewhat grindy in later sections. The story itself takes a weird and lazy turn and ends up ramping the difficulty of the game to the point that it feels like a much different and more difficult experience with a ton more RNG involved like random modifiers for your run. This is fine and more challenging, but the change is steep. Although this game takes a more challenging turn that is still told as part of the story arc, it feels more like an endgame given that the mass majority of Familiars have already been collected and there is now a ramped up difficulty, which makes the experience feel a bit strange.
With at least thirteen hours logged, I am not done with Crown Trick and will continue playing because the game is a really good tactical experience that I recommend and there is still some stuff left for me to do. I will update my review as necessary as I continue playing, but I can easily say this is a job well done by NEXT Studios and I can’t wait to see their next game. .
Similar Games Liked:
Sword and the Stars: The Pit
The Binding of Isaac