An Xbox One review from Joe’s Xbox Name:
Xbox exclusive and next gen launch title, Crimson Dragon casts players as a mystical dragon rider. Aided by your airborne reptile companion, your job is to blast everything and anything on sight as you progress through an eight to ten hour campaign alone or paired up with a wingman (Either an NPC of your choice or a buddy.) But does this game soar or never leave the runway?
Similar to Sega’s “Phantasy Star” (1987) series, the world of Crimson Dragon combines a dash of fantasy and magic with a larger overtone of sci-fi elements. Dragons roam the sky and shoot fireballs but also laser beams and missiles. The art direction is spot on for the nostalgic feel Land Ho! and Grounding, Inc. were aiming for and is reminiscent of the Sega Saturn or Dreamcast era. Sadly, the design in character models and environments also follow suit. Lacking detail and clipping often, the graphics appear to have been forced out to meet a console launch deadline.
The story leaves something to be desired as well. Conspiracies and cover ups, the government has hidden a virus outbreak from the ever trusting population. This plague makes wild dragons and other wildlife attack on sight and larger than normal. At the center of it all, and the cause of the virus, is a giant evil dragon entitled “The White Phantom.” You, along with your fellow dragon riding companions, are tasked with curing the virus and putting an end to the fiasco. With no further evolution or plot twists, the story remains lackluster.
Crimson Dragon is a semi-rail shooter accompanied by numerous RPG elements. You have your choice of what dragon you would like to ride each with unique stats that can be upgraded instead of being stuck to a stagnant mount like similar games such as Sega’s “Panzer Dragoon." (1995) Each dragon can also be evolved or morphed into a bigger and better beast upon leveling granting it better stats and the ability to learn new super moves. Items that boost certain stats or give experience can also be used to further customize your winged ally. If playing alone, you have your choice of an NPC controlled wingman each possessing their own unique skills. These elements come together to add some sustenance to a genre that feels flat when comparing to today’s gaming standards.
Although these RPG elements are welcome editions, they do their best to hold up an ultimately outdated game. The gunplay feels shallow with only two different types of ammunition as you blast through similar looking enemies over and over. Being confined to rails also makes maneuverability a pain and you will wind up running into rock walls and enemy fire power despite your best efforts to avoid them. The only way to dodge obstacles is to hit the shoulder buttons causing your dragon to barrel roll to the respective side of the bumper spammed. To make up for this clunky control scheme, there are combined attacks between you and your wingman that will bring regular enemies and bosses to their knees and the ability to place your wingman upfront. Your NPC controlled ally will take down ninety percent of your adversaries leaving you to clean up what remains using basic shooting or the three combined attacks you are granted per mission. This accompanied with generator items that let you revive mid mission makes the difficulty of this game infinitely easy causing dodging to become more tedious than necessary. This style of gameplay was fun in the nineties and is still enjoyable for the first handful of missions. Sadly, the campaign overstays its nostalgic welcome and progression through the twenty five some odd missions becomes nothing short of a chore.
Crimson Dragon is hard to recommend to anyone despite its discount price. Promising to follow in the footsteps of Sega’s beloved dragon riding series, this game did nothing but deliver false hope. If you are an old school gamer who misses the games of yore you could give it a chance if only for nostalgias sake. But if you are someone who is looking for a well-crafted modern day update of an old classic, you are going to have to keep waiting.
Graphics: 6/10 – The art direction really nails an old school feel of past “Sega” titles. The clipping and character models lack detail
Sound: 7/10 – The sounds are exactly what you would expect and accurate to what they represent. The music isn’t bad but very forgettable.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Lacking in any kind of depth and mind-numbingly easy.
Story: 6/10 – For what the game is it gets the job done. Just don’t expect any more from it.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10 – For those who want to go back there is a challenge system with achievements to reward the hardcore. But you won’t want to go back.
Achievement Score: 865/1500