By Antal Bokor
I feel like I play more roguelikes than any other type of game. That’s okay, because roguelikes can deliver some of the most satisfying gameplay and some of the toughest challenges. This is true for Crown Trick, a charming roguelike game where enemies move when you move.
In action roguelike Crown Trick you play as Elle, a girl thrust into the nightmare realm. You ally with a sentient talking crown, who guides you through these nightmare dungeons. Elle has to fight her way through various floors, facing various enemies, mini-bosses and bosses as she works to uncover the truth behind the nightmare realm.
If you’re familiar with roguelikes, you’re familiar with the setup: you guide Elle through procedurally generated dungeons, killing enemies, collecting currencies that will help her inside and between each runs. You will meet various NPCs that will serve as merchants that help you unlock your full potential. The thing that makes Crown Trick stand out the most, though it isn’t entirely unique, is its you move, they move style of turn-based combat—most often seen in Mystery Dungeon style roguelikes.
Every step, swing, or other action you take as Elle will allow your enemies to take their action. This makes even the most intense encounters become a strategic match of wits, and not twitch reflexes. Enemies will cast spells, and you will have a number of turns to escape the area of effect. Elle can teleport, giving her the ability to get out of tight spots—but with limited charges, it’s not always a reliable escape. Each run has the potential to be substantially different than the last, especially since you start out with a different combination of weapon, familiar, and relic at the start of each run.
Weapons in Crown Trick not only have different stats, but different types of weapons have different attack patterns. Some attack all of the squares around Elle, other attacks several squares in front of her, etc. Relics can be collected during runs that bestow buffs on Elle. But one of the more interesting power-ups you can get in Crown Trick are familiars.
When you defeat mini-bosses, you get two of their powers. During a run, you can eventually equip two of these sets of powers, and use them against your enemies. Pairing certain familiars with each other, and even with certain weapons, create synergies that are incredibly fun to play, and are devastating to Elle’s enemies.
The enemies you’ll face in Crown Trick are never boring—and some are quite devious. Sniper enemies will attack from just off screen. Caster enemies stay away, and melee enemies try to close the gap. Bosses are each unique and have their own weaknesses and strategic considerations. Some of the bosses are even like puzzles—and you have to find the specific trick to beat them. It’s always fun, and the turn-based nature allows you to consider each move before committing.
Crown Trick adds another layer of strategy with the ability to break enemies. Enemies have an armor rating, and once that hits zero, they break—stunning them, and allowing you to deal increased damage. If you can chain together a series of breaks, Elle’s entire damage output is increased significantly.
Once you clear your first dungeon in Crown Trick, you are presented with a series of dungeons to choose from, each with their own end boss. To make matters more complicated, you are given a debuff for each of these runs, adding an extra layer of challenge. Crown Trick starts off tricky, but can get downright hard.
Crown Trick is a solid roguelike. It has an enchanting art style that is a nice change of pace from the usual pixel art fare (not that pixel art is a bad thing). Its combination of familiar, relics and weapons make for endless combinations, and some seriously fun and overpowered synergy. If you’re a fan of roguelikes, Crown Trick will have something you’ll like.
Third Coast Review is Chicago’s locally curated website, specializing in Chicago-area arts and culture coverage. Read more at thirdcoastreview.com