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Walk into the West Hall of the LA Convention Center and one of the first game displays you'll come across is Dragon's Crown, the four-player beat-em-up dungeon crawler from Vanillaware.
Bound for the PS3 and PS Vita, Vanillaware's latest offering combines everything you've come to know and love from games like Gauntlet and, more recently, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and combines it with a healthy dose of RPG goodness.
While I only had 15 minutes to run a quick dungeon during my hands-on session, that was more than enough time for the game to leave a lasting impression. Fans of the genre should take note: It looks like Dragon's Crown might just live up to its lofty ambitions.
Lets just go ahead and get the obvious out of the way: Dragon's Crown is gorgeous. All of those lovely hand-drawn bits fit together smoothly, making it hard to focus on the job at hand rather than just stare at the lovely backgrounds.
This is probably the deepest beat-em-up up I've ever laid hands on, featuring numerous systems and abilities for the player to dig into. Each class has multiple attacks which can be augmented further with up and down presses on the joystick. Rather than just a weak and strong attack button, each class has multiple types of weak and strong attacks to unleash, as well as aerial variations.
Each class has a resource of sorts to manage, too. The wizard needs to hold down square to recharge his magic from time to time, for instance, while the elf needs to pick up her arrows from fallen enemies.
A thief companion joins the party in dungeons. Players can use the left stick to make a ghostly hand pop up on the screen and use it to direct the thief to unlock treasure chests or pick locks on doors while the heroes clear out the monsters.
Along with your regular set of abilities, players can quickly navigate a pop-up menu with the left and right buttons on the D-pad, and then press down to uses a spell, equip an item or cast additional spells.
There's loads of loot to gather, secondary weapons to pick up and use, a leveling system for each character, and more. If you're playing solo and come across a corpse, you can even collect it and resurrect it in town to add an AI partner to your party.
It was a lot to digest in just 15 minutes, but my team and I picked up things rather quickly. The game plays exactly how you expect it to, there's just a lot of extra depth there for players who feel like digging deeper than the average button masher.
Look for Dragon's Crown to hit the US on Aug. 6.