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Dragon Marked for Death Review: Marked Out

/ May 29th, 2019 No Comments

Dragon Marked for Death

Waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes though, waiting has its benefits.

Those who waited for Inti Creates’ latest game, Dragon Marked for Death, now have an excellent option to pick the game up in a beautiful retail package that includes the season pass and, for first-run copies, the special weapons DLC.

Dragon Marked for Death is another great action game from Inti Creates. It feels retro but has modern depth. With a variety of missions, characters and difficulty settings, it offers a lot of replay value.

Avenge the Clan

Since the dawn of humans, a war raged between the Celestial and the Astral Dragon. The divinity of the Celestial struck a definitive blow against Atruum, the Astral Dragon, forcing it to leave the humans to their new age.

During the war, Atruum saved a tribe on the brink of ruin. By giving the people its blood, they became known as the Dragonblood Clan. This is when the Astral Dragon retreated, leaving war and power behind. However, the resentment between the Kingdom of Medius ruled by the Divine Family never abated.

When the Divine Family saw an opening, they sent the Legion of Divine Knights to the Dragonblood village. The Knights slaughtered every citizen in the village, save for four and the newly born Dragonblood Oracle, Amica, which they abducted.

Atruum, awoken from its slumber, bestowed the power to enact vengeance on the fortunate four. Now anointed with the Astral Dragon’s power, it is up to the four survivors to venture into the Kingdom of Medius to take their revenge on the Divine Family. They also need to find out why they abducted Amica and what their plans are for the Dragonblood Oracle.

Dragon Marked for Death frames the action as a tale of revenge for a fallen clan. In very short order, the story builds the world of fantasy and the stakes for why the survivors seek revenge. It also creates a sense of place in the Kingdom of Medius by rooting it in an inherent class struggle.

A lot of depth is achieved in a short amount of time. While the game focuses on action, it does ensure that there is context and motive for the action. It ensures that the game isn’t a hollow experience thanks to its strong world building.

On a Mission to Slash and Crush

After the slaughter and destruction of the Dragonblood clan and village, you are one of the few survivors. Now a stranger in a hostile city, you must work for your enemy in order to get vengeance. By completing missions, you gain access to the upper parts of the capital. The closer you get to the top, the closer you get to exacting your revenge.

Missions vary greatly. Sometimes you will need to help a balloon fly or you could be asked to rescue citizens from monster. Mostly, you’ll be killing monsters. The mission structure helps add variety to the game, but it does have a drawback.

Since you level up your characters, there is tendency to grind out the experience. But unlike in an RPG, the grinding isn’t vital. However, you may find moments where your character is underpowered compared to the enemies you’re facing. To help make whatever grinding you may encounter more palatable, missions have difficulty scaling. Once you finish a mission, you can play it again with tougher enemies for more of a challenge and additional experience.

 
Dragon Marked for Death
Combining the the different moves you have in your arsenal is where the depth of combat comes into play.

While the missions you take on can vary, the core combat is static. This isn’t a bad thing because the combat is fantastic. The core combat is composed of a basic attack, a special skill, a dragon attack, as well as the ability to dash, jump and perform a unique traversal technique.

Despite the streamlined nature of your moveset, combat is anything but simple. It echoes what made older action side-scrollers so addictive. There is a tightness to the mechanics that helps ensure that dispatching enemies is a satisfying action.

While the moveset is simplified, it is how you combine the moves at your disposal that adds depth — for example, combining the Knight’s shoulder tackle with his charge attack to stun and massively damage enemies, or using the Shinobi’s dash attack with slashes and shurikens to tag and destroy enemies.

It is the way the moves work together that help keep it from being a mindless hack-and-slash game. Coupled with tough boss fights and a varied set of enemies, you need to be smart on how you employ your moveset to overcome the challenges that come your way. There is a decidedly modern-retro feel to the combat.

Missions can be complete solo, locally with friends, or online with others. Solo is likely the main mode for most players since it is hard to make friends. Those venturing to play online may find it hard going depending on when they’re playing. The lobby was pretty empty the few times we tried to get some missions going. However, that is the always the gamble when trying to play co-op games online.

What you can count on with the game is the massive amount of replayability it offers. Whether it is the scaled mission structure, the item crafting or the four different characters, you can find a good reason to keep playing. While it may seem like the missions would be exactly the same for each character, how you move and fight through levels is very different. Certain paths or chest open up to you based on the character you choose, which gives you a good reason to replay missions.

Overall

Dragon Marked for Death once again shows that Inti Creates are masters of crafting a satisfying 2D action game. By blending strong hack-n-slash combat with a fascinating fantasy world and gorgeous graphics, Dragon Marked for Death is a game that keeps you coming back. With four different characters to master and plenty of missions with multiple difficulties, the game has a ton of replay value.

Dragon Marked for Death is available now at retail at North American and European retailers. It is also available online at Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy and Target for $49.99.

Dragon Marked for Death was reviewed with a retail copy on Nintendo Switch provided by the publisher.

 
Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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DRAGON MARKED FOR DEATH REVIEW: MARKED OUT

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall86%

GAMEPLAY9

Dragon Marked for Death is more pitch-perfect action side-scrolling combat from Inti Creates.

GRAPHICS9

Dragon Marked for Death features smooth animation and gorgeous pixel art.

SOUND8.5

Dragon Marked for Death has a soundtrack that amps you up to take on missions and kill monsters.

STORY8

The story does a good job of building out the world, motives, and stakes in a few moments.

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