Dragon Sinker's retro art style will immediately appeal to anyone who's fond of the original 8-bit Dragon Quest games. However, does this old-school RPG sink or swim?
Dragon Sinker tells a very familiar fantasy story: a powerful and evil dragon known as Wyrmvarg has come to power and his evil minions have spread across the land. Playing as the heroic Prince Abram, you must collect the three legendary weapons that are scattered throughout the world and use them to finally slay Wyrmvarg. As you progress, you'll meet over a dozen other characters who will join your party including two other main characters: Mia, the Elf princess and Bomen, a powerful dwarf. Along with Abram, these two supplementary characters will take the role of team "leaders" in battle.
Party management is the biggest standout in what is otherwise a mostly formulaic RPG. After you've recruited enough party members, you'll start assigning them to teams led by one of the three main characters. Teams consist of four members and you can swap between the three teams during battle. All three teams must be vanquished before you fail a battle so it's in your best interest to make all three teams as powerful as possible instead of just focusing on a few central characters.
Fortunately, every character will receive experience if they survive a battle even if they never actually fought. Each character also has a job class that affects the skills they learn and there are a whopping 16 different available jobs. It took me a little while to get comfortable juggling so many characters at once but it makes for a fun system that lets you discover the classes that work best for your play style. One drawback is that as you continue to level up, each character learns way too many skills. I had characters amass more than 35 and I only ever used two or three. The remaining dozens just got in the way as they required me to constantly scroll past them.
While I enjoyed the team structure and management, almost every other aspect of Dragon Sinker is generic and uninspired. The overall structure is especially unremarkable. Basically, you'll be sent on a quest to explore a dungeon where you'll fight one or two bosses. After that, you'll be able to access a new town where you'll be given a couple side-quests (one of which will add a new member to your party) and a new main quest which requires you to explore a new dungeon and fight more bosses. This formula repeats itself over and over during the overly long 15 to 20 hour campaign. The enemies are equally as unremarkable. Memorable baddies like golems, warlocks, and axe knights are nowhere to be found. Instead, there are plenty of poorly crafted and uninspired character designs that are usually more laughable than intimidating. While the rest of the game looks mostly decent for a nostalgic 8-bit RPG callback (except for the fact that the game is too zoomed in for my liking), the enemy designs are a major disappointment.
Finally, the difficulty can be all over the map. I had to crank the difficulty all the way up to expert for my first several hours just to face any sort of challenge. As I advanced, enemies became much stronger than me and I had to dial the difficulty back down to save myself hours of level grinding. Hard mode carried me a few more hours and then I finally landed on Normal where the enemy encounters would rarely get beyond my first round of attacks but the boss fights were still extremely challenging. It's nice that it allows you to change the difficulty on the fly but a well planned and intuitive difficulty curve would have been much more appreciated.
Many gamers know KEMCO for churning out mostly mediocre RPGs at a high volume and unfortunately, that's exactly what Dragon Sinker feels like. It's a shame because with a bit more time and care, a few interesting concepts could have reached their full potential.
- + Managing teams and job classes is fun
- + On the right difficulty, the turn-based combat can be enjoyable
- - Far too basic overall structure with formulaic and linear dungeons
- - Dull and uninspired enemy designs
- - Difficulty wavers wildly from area to area