Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4
Developer: Megafun Games
Publisher: Oasis Games
Release: 22nd January 2018 (PC)
Price: 14.99 (PC)
Back at Gamescom, I had a short glimpse of Oasis Games line-up for the year 2017. One of the games I played was Hidden Dragon Legend, a PS4 exclusive indie hack´n slash game, that flashed me with its graphics. Sadly, it didn´t seem like a promising one, suffering from many difficulty and gameplay problems. So after releasing on PS4 last year, Megafun Games worked hard on porting it to PC, adding many tweaks at the same time. Was it worth it?
As many other slashers, Hidden Dragon Legend is all about the swordsman Lu, who escaped from a secret organization and now tries to unravel their plans behind capturing many skilled samurais. From a nearly forgotten treasure to hidden powers, on the way the game makes use of nearly any cliché possible. Sadly, at no point is it capable enough to tell an actual good story, merely throwing ideas at the player, rather than flushing a few out.
The evil organization stays evil, packed with neatly designed enemies only existing to be killed right after appearing or soon. Especially side characters seem to be hated by Megafun Games, doomed to help Lu in a tiny way, like healing his wounds for a minute, and be killed then, lacking any kind of personality or impact. Every cutscene wants to change the scenery, the cast and even the general goal while introducing more completely new stuff. Nothing in Hidden Dragon Legend has an impact, except symbolizing a rushed idea they thought would be cool to implement. As a result, I merely understood the over spanning lore.
Nonetheless, the gameplay is actually not bad, surprisingly. A lot of the clunky, combo-less impression I gained from their Gamescom preview has disappeared, in favour of a Lu equipped with quite a solid amount of starting combos. Still, Hidden Dragon Legend is by far not a complicated slasher, offering only the most rudimentary combo system, consisting of either hammering light or heavy attack buttons, to then follow them up with the other one. Chaining different combos together, creating giant chains, all those things are often impossible, since they´re simply not supported through the combat system.
Besides slowly unlocked, basic combos there isn´t much meat to the whole system. Dodging as well feels rather “meh”, not allowing for any kind of counter, just dodging enemy attacks and grant a little slow motion cut if it´s better timed. This generosity is reflected in the enemies too, almost none of them are unique in any way, consisting of the same established models everyone knows. Even though they tried to mix it up with variations of the ever-same flying, fat and normal enemies, only the difficulty, not the fun increased.
Additionally, the level design can´t impress in any way either. On the one hand, the majority of time will be spent on mostly flat 2.5D streets, forests or other territories, with only little variation. Having a multidimensional fighting ground is unseen until way later on. The sort of jump´n run passages, where Lu has to jump from platform to platform, climb a construction site or just run on roofs lack any kind of guidance at times. Particular more open spaces tend to be so repetitive in looks, that finding the right path is more based on luck than skill. Combined with the clunky animated, quicktime event-based, jumping cutscenes, nothing about the levels really feels good or unique.
On the other hand, the whole upgrade and damage system doesn´t make much sense either. Apart from the normal slash action, Hidden Dragon Legend also offers a wide variety of enhancements for Lu, from better swords to new abilities. Yet, all of them symbolize an improvement over the previous equipment, so, every picked up sword is better than the previous one. The flaw here is, that they become objects without any use case once a better one is found. Same with upgrades, although they have to be purchased. Nothing about the system truly aims to bind the player to anything, reducing the process of finding new equipment to a governed line without many improvements except numbers.
Nonetheless, Megafun Games definitely nailed the visual aspect of their game, delivering a surprisingly great looking indie game. Managing to create a photo-realistic oriented world while offering a mostly distinct artstyle. No matter what, everything looks amazing in Hidden Dragon Legend, especially for an indie game. Effects during combat are also one of the main reasons why it feels powerful at all, infusing the lacking system with enough artificial punch to keep it interesting. If only the voice acting would be more than low budget PS2-era quality, the story could have profited from it as well.
After Hidden Dragon Legend´s quite impressive graphics worn off, it quickly becomes obvious what a mediocre little 2.5D slasher it really is. There´s nothing thoroughly unique, nothing exceedingly well executed and not a lot of sense for fluidity. Everything just feels like a compilation of the most overused designs of this genre put together in one single game with a lot of make-up. If you don´t expect much, you might very well have some fun with it, otherwise, I don´t think so.
[A Review Code was provided by Oasis Games]