This legend isn’t grand enough.
The trailer on the PSN network had me intrigued, and that was enough to inquire. Hidden Dragon Legend looks to be an action game set in feudal Japan, and a lone warrior fighting evil and remembering who is. From a narrative standpoint, it looks like nothing players haven’t seen countless times, but the action here looked like it might be worth a chance, and I jumped into Hidden Dragon Legend with excitement. Yet I was left with major mixed feelings when I walked away.
The story is really nothing we haven’t seen before; a warrior fights to free the land from the bad guys and discover himself and his powers along the way. It’s presented with cut scenes and some extremely badly acted voice acting, we’re talking PS1 levels of acting. The sound design for attacks feels ok and the music tracks are decent enough. Graphically there are some nice environment designs and effects like rain and lightning, but otherwise the entire audio visual side of things are fairly average at best.
Price I’d Pay: $4.99
How long to beat: 4+ hours
The gameplay is heavy sword and dagger attacks sprinkled in with special moves and enemy juggling. Animations for these moves sometimes come off as jilters or sudden, which can give the game a rather low budget look and feel. There are moments where combat feels a bit out of control, but other times where it flows together extremely well, adding in dodge and perfect timing counters, it can be an adrenaline rush at key specific moments.
There are even times when the game has some nice minor platforming or puzzle solving, but these are few and far between, and for every good moment another is equally bad. New weapons can be found, combos unlocked, new fighting styles upgraded, granted it doesn’t change the move set at all but gives other bonuses to health or attack. There is a surprising amount of gameplay elements and upgrades in here that it’s clear the developer is on to something with ambition. There are even cut scene moments that have some rather well done camera work, which surprised me.
With everything said, the combat is just serviceable and has just enough flash. The platforming works sometimes, other times feeling unresponsive or just cheap. Plenty of moments are peppered throughout the game where it becomes more a trial by fire instead of reflex, with platforms and other deadly moments occurring and not giving the player enough chance to react. Sure now the pattern is there, but it’s almost impossible to win certain sections on the fly, and instead dying is a part of the process, and it’s not rewarding in the slightest. Even checkpoints can be too spread out, requiring replaying some of these sections over and over until either winning by attrition or just luck.
Eyes bigger than stomach
Hidden Dragon Legend is the classic example of a game trying to be bigger than it’s potential budget or development. There is a great idea here marred by too many issues for me to really recommend this to anyone except the hardcore action or indie supporters. There is fun to be had, but it comes with serious caveats.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.