Since the Nintendo Switch’s debut, developer Inti Creates has sparked a 2D action game renaissance that has reawakened interest for the genre. This rebirth was achieved thanks to their stellar collection of Nintendo eShop offerings, including: Azure Striker Gunvolt, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, Mighty Gunvolt Burst, and the recently released Blaster Master Zero 2. One of Inti Creates early 2019 releases, Dragon Marked For Death, was recently given a definitive physical release that hosts all the downloadable content and playable characters in a single package for an affordable price. So… is the game marked for death or is it suitable for life in your Nintendo Switch library?
Dragon Marked For Death opens by granting the player the freedom to select between four different characters, each with their own distinct class and skillset. The four options are: Empress, Warrior, Shinobi, or Witch. Once you select the character you feel best suits your individual style of play, you will begin the opening quest, which serves as a tutorial, and then you’ll be free to accept missions, obtain wealth, and defeat challenging bosses with stylish maneuvers.
Each character class has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is encouraged that you play the opening mission with each and discover which class you prefer. The Shinobi and Empress class were the most attractive options for us, as each catered to our specific in-game fighting style combat needs. What made the Shinobi so appealing is the agility and mobility that the character class offers. Seeing as Dragon Marked For Death has some platforming elements, the Shinobi class made navigation of stages a breeze as double jumps and dashes allow for quick maneuvers and fast ascent and descent of areas. In combat, the Shinobi class allows for quick bursts of attacks to create stylish combos, and, overall, gave an authentic feel of a 2D action game from the 16-bit era.
Conversely, the Empress is a slower character but with a greater attack range. Using fire as her element of choice, the Empress can damage foes with a variety of fire-based attacks in the form of long-range fireballs or a short-range flame attack. This character also has a blade attack available, and this can be introduced to create some interesting juggles to keep enemies off-balance. The Empress has a more powerful feel to her than the Shinobi class, but it comes at the expense of mobility. However, both the Empress and Shinobi class feel like characters from the 16-bit era.
The other two classes – the Witch and the Warrior, have some appeal but the Witch feels best suited as a supporting character due to her methodical design of spellcasting; meanwhile, the Warrior is a slow but powerful combatant. We found them best suited for supporting roles, but that’s just our personal preference.
A common thing between all four classes, though, is the need to expand upon their skillset. During the game, you will earn skill points by leveling up, which is done by defeating enemies and completing missions. You will then be presented with the opportunity to spend them to boost various attributes – be it for health, attack power, or enhancing the damage dealt while using a dragon skill. Trying to maintain a balance across all these traits will prove challenging, but it is possible. For aggressive players, you may want to boost your attack power or dragon skill; whereas a more passive player may want additional vitality. It’s your character. Build their skillset around your needs.
Instead of providing players with an overworld map of individual stages, Dragon Marked For Death is contained in a city environment. While here, you’ll be able to accept missions, visit shops to sell loot, and take side-quests from the various characters while exploring the area. Talking with city inhabitants will provide extra lore to the game’s story and this helps to give the city an active feel.
You have the option of playing missions on your own or jumping online and playing with up to three other players. Dragon Marked For Death is a game that shines when played with others, however. Though solo play is a viable and passable option, it tends to feel tedious as enemies require you to inflict a vast amount of damage. It may sound like a minor quibble, but it can feel monotonous. Solo play feels best whenever you desire to replay a mission and collect some quick loot.
If the option of playing online with a friend or group of random other players is available, that is the best means in which to play and experience the game. Ideally, the online community remains active and allows newcomers to enjoy the game in the best light possible.
Dragon Marked For Death is an exceptional co-op 2D action-RPG that struggles to provide the same high-quality entertainment when played solo. While solo play is satisfactory, it is a game that encourages multiplayer. If you plan to play the entire game on your own, be cautioned that the experience can become repetitious. Conversely, if you happen to have a few friends that plan to buy or already have the game, then Dragon Marked For Death will provide many hours of entertainment.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Inti Creates