Dragon Sinker: Descendants of Legend
Developer: Exe Create Inc.
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Release date: February 22, 2018
Price: $12.99 USD
After the evil dragon Wyrmvarg was defeated at the hands of a human, an elf, and a dwarf, each was rewarded with a kingdom of their own to rule. However, when Wyrmvarg returned in the future, the three races had become distant and self-reliant rather than altruistic. The brave elves failed to defeat him on their own, while the dwarves hid in their underground castle. Rather than follow in the defeated elves’ footsteps, the humans resorted to human sacrifice in order to keep the dragon docile.
But enough is enough. You play as Prince Abram, a human who wants to do away with the needless sacrifice and slay Wyrmvarg once and for all. To do so, he’ll have to track down three legendary weapons and unite the world’s races once again.
Dragon Sinker: Descendants of Legend is a turn-based RPG that proudly wears its retro inspiration on its chainmail sleeve, while also incorporating modern conveniences and unique gameplay ideas. If you’re a fan of classic pixels and menu-based combat, and don’t necessarily mind a mostly by-the-book story beat, then rest assured that you’re getting your $12.99 worth here.
While featuring a fairly traditional fantasy story, there were some rather surprising moments and genuinely funny dialogue between the game’s massive cast of characters. In addition to the six primary characters, 16 more can be recruited throughout the adventure by undertaking personal side-quests — mostly revisiting earlier dungeons to slay a new boss or fetching an item from a faraway town.
Each recruit has their own job class, like dancer, bard, and thief, and completing their quest not only invites them into the vanguard but unlocks their job class for use by the other party members. Job classes all max out at rank 10 and doing so allows you to permanently pass that class’s passive skill on to a party leader, so a major component in becoming stronger lies in opening up and mastering more job classes. Say you have a thief at max rank and recruit a baker; you can now take your thief into any chapel and pay 100 gold to change their job class instead of leveling the baker (pardon the pun) from scratch. It’s not as grindy as it sounds, but I’ll get into that later on.
Aside from its larger cast of characters, what sets Dragon Sinker apart from most RPGs is its approach to turn-based combat. Sure, it’s typical menu-based fare, but remember that it’s your goal to reunite the humans, dwarves, and elves to hunt down these legendary weapons and take down Wyrmvarg. You’re actually given control of three parties at once; one led by Prince Abram, the human, while the other two are championed by an elf and dwarf, respectively.
Each team leader provides their party members with passive benefits and having more than one member of their race within a four-person party increases the bonus exponentially. Dwarves naturally have a high resistance to negative status effects, like blind or poison, but having two dwarves in the same party will negate them altogether.
You can only order one party at a time, but you can swap between them during combat before issuing your next command. For example, if my human-led group was thrown up against a boss who liked to cast paralyze, I could switch to the Dwarven-led group for their innate resistance benefits during the next turn. It’s pretty neat stuff.
Otherwise, combat works as you’d expect. It’s all menu-based and turn orders stem from a character’s speed stat. Abilities are similar to the Persona series, where magic uses mana and special physical attacks deplete the character’s health pool. However, each job class unlocks maybe too many new abilities over the course of their ten ranks. By hour six, Prince Abram had four entire pages jam-packed with various magical spells, curatives, debuffs, and heavy-hitting melee attacks, though I only found myself using three or four of them. By hour ten, my Priest follower was in the same predicament.
With so much emphasis on leveling up job classes, Dragon Sinker is pretty good about not making it feel too grindy. The RPG has an in-game currency called DRP which can be used in a special shop menu to purchase accessories that double XP and JP gains, turn off random encounters, and increase movement speed. You start off with 1,000 DRP and each accessory is only 200. I picked up the XP and JP rings and still had 600 left to play around with. Random encounters occasionally reward you with 5 DRP as well, so you can always grind more if you want.
It’s worth noting that Dragon Sinker has real cash microtransactions available on the eShop that purely act as time-savers. Unlike the DRP shop that sells wearable accessories, microtransactions act as a toggle feature (from what I’ve read online) and their effects stack with the DRP items. For a couple bucks you can double or triple XP and JP gains, crank up random encounters or turn them off, and regenerate HP and MP to full after each battle. None of it is necessary and the game is simple enough on the default setting, so I was never tempted to level up faster.
There’s also an in-game lottery system that mostly awards items, but if you’re lucky you can obtain combat pets (I unlocked a purple owl that used healing spells and proved super useful on my third team), high-level armor that doesn’t have any level requirements, and consumable crystals that significantly boost a character’s primary stats. The lottery is split into two draws: one that uses tickets and one that uses 100 DRP per spin. The DRP items are significantly better since the currency is more difficult to earn. Lottery tickets, however, are randomly given as thank-you gifts by shopkeepers whenever you buy weapons, armor, or items.
This was a pretty neat idea and always gave me something to look forward to. I got incredibly lucky and immediately received a high-level piece of armor that boosted my defense stat from 15 to 255. I didn’t have to wear it, but I happily put it on during tougher boss fights because feeling powerful in an RPG is fun sometimes.
Another praiseworthy aspect is Dragon Sinker’s approach to quality-of-life mechanics. You’re given five save slots, which is always nice in an RPG. There’s a fast travel system on the world map, although it uses a fairly rare reagent. Every dungeon has a fast-travel system as well, by way of teleport sigils placed at the entrance, midway point, and exit. My favorite quality of life toggle was the random encounter frequency, which can be changed at any time. You can reduce the frequency in half if you’re backtracking and don’t want to be annoyed by them as often, or you can double it if you’re grinding out jobs or DRP. The difficulty setting can also be adjusted at any time, so if you find a boss too difficult on normal you can drop it to easy — you can immediately retry battles after you’ve fallen as well. Since the game features quite a bit of backtracking for side-quests, you’re bound to enter random encounters with low-level enemies. You can activate a toggle in the options menu that will automatically finish these low-level encounters as soon as they start, and still gain the proper amount of XP and JP without lifting a finger.
As a fan of 8- and 16-bit role-playing games, I thought Dragon Sinker had a good look and feel. The pixel art was spot on, be it the playable characters, NPCs, enemies, or towns, and Ryuji Sasai’s music reminded me so much of the Sega Master System’s classic Phantasy Star (they also composed Final Fantasy Legend III, Bushido Blade 2, Tobal No. 1, and Final Fantasy Mystic Quest), which is one of my favorite old-school RPG soundtracks of all time. It’s clearly a throwback to a bygone era and that’s not going to appeal to everyone. I’m the target market, though, so you’ll hear very little complaining from me.
All in all, I had a really great time with Dragon Sinker: Descendants of Legend. If you’re a fan of the old-school RPGs that inspired it, like Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest, then know that this is one of the best homages I’ve played yet. It has everything the genre was known for, while still understanding the importance of modern convenience and respecting the player’s time.
We do not use a scoring system here at Cheap Boss Attack. Hopefully, you found the above information far more informative than an arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded-in star shapes. If you have any questions that weren’t answered in the review, please feel free to sound off down in the comments!
A digital copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.