Over the past few years, there has been no shortage on the number of games in the rogue-like genre. Many of them feature similar characteristics like procedurally-generated environments and random item drops. However, one characteristic that hasn’t been present in these titles is that of a turn-based element. Developed by NExT Studio and published by Team17, Crown Trick is a rogue-like with that turn-based element and it actually works pretty well.
In Crown Trick, you play as Elle, a young girl who has found herself stuck in the Nightmare Realm. Upon arriving, she meets a magical, talking crown who convinces her to wear it, teaching her about the realm and combat as they go. After a brief introduction on the realm and the enemies that litter it, they set off on a journey that takes them to a number of different locations.
The story itself may seem a little minimal at first, drip-feeding you little bits of narrative at moments during the game, but it does open up quite a bit. You can also learn a little more about Elle by finding letters throughout the game. These don’t reveal much and are quite mysterious in execution, but should keep you intrigued enough to seek out the next letter. It’s also not the most original plot, but it’s still pretty enjoyable and provides enough motivation to crawl through the various dungeons.
Being touted as an adventure RPG rogue-like, Crown Trick may sound a little overwhelming, however, it’s actually quite easy to learn its systems. Just like other titles in the rogue-like genre, you are tasked with taking on procedurally-generated dungeons, defeating its enemies and bosses and collecting randomised loot. However, the addition of a turn-based element makes things slightly more strategic.
The entirety of each dungeon is laid out on a grid, with Elle being able to move one square at a time. Each movement counts as a turn and enemies will be able to move right after you’ve completed your turn. You can change directions to face an enemy if they happen to be within striking distance, however, which doesn’t count as a turn. You can also skip a turn by clicking in the right stick, which allows you to have the upper hand when an enemy approaches you and has to end their turn. This creates an opportunity to deliver the first blow in a battle, saving you a little bit of health. Dealing damage to an enemy will also whittle down their shields, causing them to enter “Break” status. This makes them more susceptible to critical hits while also recharging some of Elle’s abilities.
The weapons that Elle can find also have attack ranges based on what they are. For example, swords hit the tile in front of you and the two adjacent to it, allowing you to hit three enemies at once if they happen to be on those tiles. However, axes hit all the tiles around you in a square, which is perfect for dealing damage to a group of enemies if they happen to surround you. There are a host of different weapon types; from dual blades to shotguns, with each one having its own rarity level ranging from common to legendary.
Aside from wielding weapons, Elle is able to equip familiars, unique enemies who once defeated, will join her on her quest. Once equipped, Elle can make use of the magic belonging to that familiar. These range from setting fire to a few tiles to creating an earthquake that affects the entire grid of the room that you’re in. These are actually really great and making use of a familiar’s skill at the right time can seriously turn the tide in a battle, especially when fighting a boss.
Aside from all of these offensive manoeuvres, Elle also has the ability to Blink, which is teleporting to a tile within a limited grid based on her current location. These can only be used a few times, however, so they’re best reserved for dire situations. Additionally, there are relics and blessings to be found in each dungeon, which can buff your stats or provide you with little bonuses when meeting certain criteria.
As mentioned before, this sounds incredibly overwhelming but Crown Trick’s systems are quite easy to learn rather quickly. Once you get stuck into it, it’s actually quite a satisfying gameplay loop and can also be addictive. A lot of what you find during a run depends on luck but it never feels overly punishing. Playing strategically feels so rewarding and even more so when you can walk away from a combat encounter unscathed. There’s also the fact that it always feels like you’re making progress thanks to some permanent upgrades such as attack bonuses, the efficacy of your healing and how many times you can heal during a run.
Visually, Crown Trick looks gorgeous thanks to its hand-drawn aesthetic. It is incredibly colourful and actually makes you excited to progress to the next area. The enemy variety is decent too, featuring different types appearing in certain areas. However, it could’ve done with a little more variety since you’ll be seeing some familiar faces even pretty far into the game. The UI can also be a little finicky sometimes, requiring you to move away from an item you’re trying to interact with before you can attempt to interact with it again. The audio is also fantastic. There’s no spoken dialogue but the sound effects and the game’s soundtrack is great to listen to.
Crown Trick is quite great. Its story is a little minimal but is mysterious enough to keep you intrigued. The gameplay is quite satisfying, taking turn-based elements and some strategy and mixing it with features of a rogue-like makes for such an enjoyable experience. The hand-drawn visual style is beautiful but I could’ve done with some more variety when it came to the enemies on show. Plus, the UI can be a bit iffy. Nevertheless, Crown Trick is a great entry in the rogue-like genre and is worthy of your time.
Visuals8/10 Very Good
- Gorgeous hand-drawn visuals
- Satisfying gameplay
- Great variety of dungeons
- Lack of enemy variety
- Finicky UI