Dragon Sinker : Descendants of Legend
The game at a glance
While I will admit from the start that the graphics are really out of date, even for old 2D standards, the art is nice enough for me to get into it. Characters are recognizable, there are graphic changes when a character switches class, and spells have a nice feel (except for those flashes during some which I’ve never liked as it’s unpleasant for the eyes) I guess it must be more difficult for people who didn’t start gaming with old systems or don’t like retro games. If that doesn’t stop you, this short J-RPG actually has quite a bit to offer. Different difficulty settings, exploration, character recruiting, sidequests and even some optional dungeons, which is getting rare enough nowadays.
I should also say that I was afraid of the Lottery system at first. I am not a big fan of lootboxes or any randomized microtransaction system, and I was turned off when I saw some trophies depended on this system. Fortunately, the game is fair enough when it comes to this and it was pretty easy to get everything that was needed by farming in game, making it a viable choice. So in the end, it is just a matter of wanting to skip a bit of extra grind or not.
This kind of scene takes me back to J-RPGs when your party members would split and sleep in different beds whenever you would rest at an inn.
pGood old fashioned j-rpg exploring and turn based fighting
As I said before, this game brings the good old J-RPG formula back to the table. You have a world map for exploring with quite a bit of optional discoveries to make, towns where you can rest, resupply, take on sidequests and talk with residents for general chatting, direction hints and the like, and of course dungeons where most of the action will happen, finding treasure, battling monsters and looking for specific quest objectives.
Battles are pretty straightforward, with a couple more mechanics than just the base of what you could find in most games of this genre, but the gist of it is simple. It is turn based, and each character will get to attack, defend, use skills and magic by spending both HPs and MPs, or run away. Nothing revolutionary, but always fun when you’re into this type of game.
Class system and sidequests
This is probably the part I liked most. While we get less and less choice and customization options in recent games and everybody pretty much plays the same characters, parties and such, this game offers a simple but pretty nice class system, as well as skill inheritance. Most sidequests will be about helping characters that will join your team upon completion, each with a new class (Villager, Duelist, Thief, Dancer, etc..). Once they do, all your characters get access to that new class and can switch at will. By cumulating experience with a particular class, they learn new abilities, both passive and active, until they master the class. Mastering a class gives you a scroll that will teach a specific ability only once to one of the three main characters. While these three cannot switch class, they can learn new abilities from those scrolls and get stronger this way.
I love this system which makes sidequests extremely important and not just some kind of filler that has you kill X monsters for a little gold. Getting all the classes is pretty rewarding. Also, depending on which combination of classes you put in your party, you get pretty nice team effetcs that give you various buffs, making it even more worthwhile to unlock as many classes as you can and try out various party setups.
Customization of teams and skills
Parties are a bit special. Unlike most J-RPGs where you compose a single party of generally 3 or 4 members, you have up to 3 parties at the same time here. This is because the game is about 3 heroes, all the descendants of legendary heroes that saved the world in the past : A human, dwarf and elf hero. Each of these heroes has a party of their own. They can’t be in the same party together, meaning you will have 3 parties of 4 members each, making character recruitment a necessity to fill all spots. You can then switch parties during battles, and even if one party is defeated the next one will still carry on the fight until all your parties are gone. While this sytemis pretty nice, I have to admit I didn’t use it much, as I am the type of player that picks a favorite character and powers him or her as much as I can over the others, creating a pretty imbalanced situation. I was pretty comfortable having just one strong party for pretty much the whole game. You can get lots of permanent stat boosting items in the game, and you get to choose whether you will split those evenly between the heroes or pick a favorite.
Skills make a huge difference in the game, as some of them really have formidable effects and damage. This is why I prefer choosing whoever has my favorite set of skills and make them more powerful. Only being able to get and use skill scrolls once also go towards that choice : you either have to give speficic scrolls to each character, or give them all to one so the character masters all of them. Again, it’s all down to choice and I always appreciate getting a choice.
My favorite bits in this game
While most of the game is pretty linear with a simple story, I enjoyed all the sidequests and optional content. Getting all the classes, finding all the locations and beating all bosses was pretty satisfying, and the ability to choose your difficulty settings made farming much quicker and easier. Most dungeons were pretty generic, except for the elf prison with some kind of little “town” at the bottom with prisoners going about their lives in captivity, unable to get out because of the monsters keeping them in.
There is one side story I enjoyed in particular though. As always, I love anything horror, ghost, crypt, occult and mystery related, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that my favorite part in the game was an optional haunted mansion. While the main story and most of the sidequest were not particularly imaginative to my taste, this mansion stood out. A murderous ghost woman posing as a victim, spooky elements throughout the mansion, a scared elf hero… As you solve the mystery of the mansion to acquire a key item, you uncover what happened in the past little by little and I can’t get enough of that kind of mood.
My Personal Rating
- Gameplay 60% 60%
This is a classic J-RPG setup here so I will only look at what is original and stands out a bit, but unfortunately there isn’t much in that field. Only the option to switch teams during battle and to skip animations, which is a nice option to have when you just want to farm quickly.
- Audio 60% 60%
While enough for a title like this, I cannot say I was impressed but the audio. There were no musics that stuck in my head while playing, and of course no voice over, which I didn’t expect to begin with. Good enough quality, but pretty generic.
- Graphics 60% 60%
Probably the biggest weakness of this game in my opinion. Even if graphics never stopped me from enjoying a game, and I did enjoy this one, I think this is really the bare minimum in terms of graphics here. Characters are recognizable and I’m glad class changes are visible, but everything else seem really minimal. Slightly better 2D graphics would have really enhanced the experience.
- Lifespan 70% 70%
This is a short game, that much is clear, especially if you skip every animation in battle and go straight to the end in easy mode. However, there is quite a lot of extra objectives to do if you take the time to do so. Quests, classes, optional dungeons and bosses, extra characters from the lottery. All in all,a lot of enjoyable side activities that, to be honest, I was not expecting in a small RPG like this. It was a good surprise.
- Writing 70% 70%
Most quests, both main and side ones, feel extremely generic. Heroes joining together to slay a legendary dragon, fetching items or killing monsters, most of it feels pretty plain and uninspired. But I will give credit where it’s due : some conversations bewteen the characters are actually pretty funny, in particular whenever it involves Bernard. I Always enjoyed the haunted mansion which had a nice little atmosphere going on and more horror style scenario. I just wish there had been more parts in the game that would have been on that level.
- Trophies 70% 70%
Pretty solid list, asking you to finish almost everthing on the side. Nothing too hard or time consuming, just unlocking all classes and beating the ultimate optional boss in the game, who will ask for some powering up. Only one trophy could be a pain if not taken in consideration : the one asking to use all scrolls on a single hero. This didn’t bother me as I would have done that anyway, but it will cost an additional playthrough for those who will want to share the scrolls bewteen heroes.
While short and without a lot of surprises, Dragon Sinker was really nice to play. As a huge fan of J-RPGs, I enjoy anything that reminds me of classics such as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy from the time of 2D. I really think that this type of game could be even much better if polished some more, and I’m now eager to try out more games from this developer as I feel this genre is not enough represented anymore. Keep them coming !