Sunday, April 7

Review: Dragon - Marked for Death [Nintendo Switch eShop]

In what comes as somewhat of a surprise to me, given the fact that it was a genre that had fallen pretty hard from grace for quite some time, the brawler in its many forms is relatively alive and well on the Switch. That’s great news for genre fans who are looking to have some fun, but perhaps not so much for developers who may be struggling to stand out. On paper Dragon: Marked for Death has quite a lot on its side, whether it’s the pedigree of the developer Inti Creates (maker of Blaster Master Zero titles and more), the fact that it supports online play, or simply the fact that it looks really good. Unfortunately, in action the game is a bit more inconsistent than you may expect.

Since this review is based on the retail physical copy of the game I was able to choose from any of the game’s 4 main units, but for people getting it digitally it is worth nothing the sort of debacle with how it is structured. You’ll be able to purchase either of 2 sets of classes and then purchase the other as DLC if you were interested in them. This approach is simply odd and in terms of quick opinions it really seemed to blow up in their faces. So if you’re getting it digitally be sure to be up on which classes you’re most interested in so you can purchase the appropriate pack first.

Moving onto the gameplay the feel of things is dependent on the class you choose as each has its own flair. The Shinobi is agile and capable of mixing things up close range and then dashing away, the Witch tends to work best from a distance casting powerful spells, the Empress works well as a sort of mid-range character balancing melee and short-ranged attacks, and the Warrior is what you’ll want to choose if you want to tank it up. Where things get a bit more fun is if you’re able to get playing with someone decent online if you happen to have classes that compliment each other a bit, which is where the game feels like it hits its stride. Single-player tends not to be as satisfying and depending on the class you choose may even border on feeling unfair without someone else there to balance your weaknesses or at least attract enemy attention away from you some of the time.

Whether you play solo or with others the ultimate issue with the game is that it simply settles into repetitive patterns and gets grindy entirely too quickly. While you’ll consistently deal with new types of enemies that way you’ll deal with them tends to fall into the pattern of “stick with what works” and gets to be quite unsatisfying as a result. This feeling is a bit more amplified when you’re trying to go solo since you then don’t even have someone to play off of a bit as you try to keep things fresh together. Throw in some overlong sections without checkpoints and mission failures become all the more aggravating and monotonous as you then have to trudge through and repeat the same thing all over again.

The shame is that Dragon: Marked for Death looks fantastic, it just lacks the strength of variety in the gameplay to match. If you’re able to play it with a friend that may help greatly, or perhaps if you’re lucky enough to get partied with some decent randoms online you could have some fun as well. Just don’t expect enough variety to give it much spice, especially up against many titles already in the Switch library that do a bit better in that area.

Score: 5.5

  • Looks fabulous
  • If you’re able to pair up with some decent people the game plays a bit better in co-op

  • The digital purchase scheme is a mess, unfortunate, and confusing for gamers
  • In single-player things are a bit more of a repetitive slog
  • There’s simply not enough depth in the combat mechanics to make the game interesting over the long haul