Publisher: Oasis Games
Developer: MegaFun Games
Stating the obvious, indie game developers do not have the resources their larger brethren have. Unless their titles catch the eye of a prominent executive, streamer or games journalist, getting mindshare in the gaming public will always be an uphill climb. So for every Cuphead, there will be thousands of games like Hidden Dragon Legend. This is a title which released on 9/17/17 and as of the publication of this review only has six other reviews from online publications listed on Metacritic. Is this title worthy of having a light shined upon it or should it remain obfuscated by more deserving titles? Well let?s find out.
Hidden Dragon Legend puts you in control of Lu, an amnesic man who brings death and misery wherever he goes. He awakens in a prison as a sole survivor of a some sort of catastrophic event and you begin your journey to rediscover your past and take vengeance on the people responsible for your condition. Despite such a generic story premise, this title is actually rich with lore. Unfortunately this lore is relegated to flavor text on collectibles and loading screens. So unless you are willing to dig into menus and pay attention when areas are loading, cutscenes will always result in a lot of head scratching.
Lu handles in an acceptable manner, he has wide array of moves which can be unlocked during the course of play. However some of the timing of the advance moves are rather strict, so it is likely you will rely on very basic combos to get through the title. Lu?s arsenal consists of a double-edged straight sword, throwing daggers and a grappling hook. The daggers do not deal too much damage and from my experience only serve to increase your hit count, which helps fill the special move meter. The grappling hook?s only usage in combat is to draw enemies closer to Lu, perhaps the most effective in controlling the mobility of flying enemies. If you have the patience and persistence to master Lu?s moveset, combat can be exhilarating and visually can be comparable to titles such as Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.
Platforming is also a major component of gameplay and can be a point of frustration. This is caused primarily by two factors. Guiding Lu as he lands from a jump can be hit or miss, and sometimes the platforms aren?t really discernible from the background. These faults are mitigated by the fact that most falls are not fatal and checkpoints are relatively generous.
The presentation is also a mixed bag, the environments are generally impressive, with vibrant colors which can be seen in bamboo grove level, impressive architecture in the Luoyang city level and intricate designs of objects in the Hidden City. They are also sprawling and often hide nooks which can be missed by an inattentive player and areas which require a second playthrough before they are accessible. Most of the characters are masked and those that aren?t are rather plain looking. The voice acting is wooden to the point where the game would have benefited from an optional foreign language track. The music is nothing memorable, but not offensive. Sound effects are rather satisfying, especially when you hear the clashing of metal, or smashing of wooden boards. The character profiles stand out as it is rendered in a style which is quite close to chinese art, which is seldomly seen in western games.
At 20 dollars, it is a tough ask as a purchase since this developer with no discernible track record in the west. Those who take the leap will find a rather solid title with high replayability and a visual style seldom seen on our shores. One can only hope that the publisher can put some more marketing dollars towards this title so that it can find some sort of audience.