Unleash the dragon within you and relinquish yourself.
- System: PlayStation 4
- Publisher: Idea Factory International
- Developer: Compile Heart / Idea Factory
- Release Date: June 11, 2019
- Pricing: $59.99
- Rating: T
- Genre: RPG, Action
- Players: 1
- Official Website: http://ideafintl.com/varnir/info
Dragon Star Varnir™ - Overview Trailer (NA)
Who it Caters to
What we really love about Idea Factory’s titles is that they tend to formulate a compelling narrative while also introducing fresh concepts that help to deliver an impactful gameplay experience. Dragon Star Varnir takes everything you know and enjoy about the Idea Factory RPG blueprint and throws in various exciting features that help to redefine how battles are conducted, along with leveling up your character abilities in order to defeat enemies. For anyone who’s a fan of role-playing games, Dragon Star Varnir is a title that instills a sense of satisfaction through its very tactical battle formations, an amazing cast of characters, and its ability to convey a powerful narrative that tackles dark themes with a vivid imagination.
What to Expect
Unlike most conventional RPGs, where battles typically take place on grounded platforms, Dragon Star Varnir introduces a new system where players must now take to the skies to battle their foes. Known in-game as 3-tiered battles, players take control of their witches on a multi-layered battleground, where your party formation will determine just how much damage you’ll inflict and whether you’ll have the advantage. Another prominent feature is called Devour, whereby consuming dragons unleashes each witches inner power and rewards them with even stronger abilities, which can help to turn the tide of battle immediately. Each dragon you devour comes with a certain set of skills which you can teach to each witch, but the strategy in this is knowing which witch to attach the skill to, meaning that you’ll need to plan your devour strategy during battles. Dragon Awakening is a feature whereby each witch can attain a high level of power during a battle, and this can be attained by dealing damage to the enemy or by incurring damage to yourself. Once activated, all of your current abilities are buffed and inflict double the damage they initially did, giving you access to a strong comeback mechanic which helps to overcome a group of enemies and mitigate damage.
Stave of the inevitable death. That is the goal of each witch as their livelihood depends on devouring the meat of dragons and prevent insanity. Zephy, the main protagonist of the series, is a revered knight whose job is to eradicate the witch population, but is soon entwined in their misery as he is saved by two witches from near death. By consuming the dragon’s blood, Zephy now takes on a different form, granting him unfathomable power and now must reluctantly turn his attention to the Empire, the very same unit he had served and eradicate them before it’s too late. Will he and his pact of witches be able to stave off this powerful entity, or will they all succumb to the darkness within?
In typical Idea Factory fashion, Dragon Star Varnir uses the same visual aesthetic that most fans will take notice of right away. Character designs are unique in their own right, giving the game its own flair and direction. Every character behaves in their own way which helps to bring the game’s story to life brilliantly, with a strong visual presentation in terms of facial expressions. Overall presentation regarding the UI and menu screens are very well designed, allowing players to navigate through options with relative ease and not overwhelming you with too much on-screen during expeditions.
Fans of Japanese voicing will be happy to know that the option is there to change over if needed, which helps to provide a more authentic experience. This isn’t to discredit the English dubbing as the cast did a solid job of conveying emotions, but in terms of overall delivery, the Japanese voicing definitely nailed it. The battle music was perhaps the most striking of all the music in the game, because it helped to compliment a lot of the action taking place on the screen. It created an immersive environment that felt real and each attack packed a genuine punch that you could feel every time. During the long dialogue portions, the background music served its purpose well which helped to better convey what was happening and gave us a better impression of the story’s direction emotionally.
Earlier we brought up some of the features of Dragon Star Varnir, but now we’d like to go into more detail about them, and how they can benefit you in gameplay. First off, let’s talk about the 3-tiered battle system since it plays an integral role in the overall progression of the game. In Dragon Star Varnir, each of your characters is positioned on a different tier: high, mid, and low. Depending on the formation of your party the damage given can be higher, along with an increase in defense. This becomes important to understand since the proper placement of each witch on your team will determine whether or not you’ll come out victorious, or eventually be wiped out by the dragon horde. For example, in the Double Style formation, mid-level grants increased physical attack damage and defense, while the high-level provides an increase in magic attack/defense all by 4%. Minessa is a water-type witch so if you’re up against a water-type dragon, you’ll want to place her in the high-level tier since her magic damage will do a lot more, and if she’s in her Dragon Awakening state she’ll do double that.
There are 3 formations that you can choose from: Standard, Thunder Force and Double Style. We encourage you to dabble with each formation as they each provide their own significant perks during battle. Dragon Awakening is an ability whereby a witch gains maximum power once the Dragon gauge is completely filled. This can be done by attacking the enemy or by taking damage along the way. Your Dragon Awakening happens automatically so you don’t need to worry about pressing a button to activate it, which helps to save time and places more attention on the battle itself. During your Dragon Awakening, your Devouring ability is also granted a significant buff, with each witch having their own unique Devour finishing blow which almost always guarantees a win once you’ve knocked off a good chunk of health.
Devouring isn’t as easy as it sounds however as you’ll need to ensure that each dragon’s fear meter builds in order to reap the rewards. The fear meter can be built by simply attacking the dragon, but can be raised faster by targeting their weak points. From our example earlier with Minessa, if you run into a water-type dragon you can use her water-based attacks to build the fear meter quicker. In addition, by frequently attacking a dragon's weak point you’ll activate a weak point group attack, where each witch on your squad will deal extra damage to the dragon. Think of it as bonus damage for being able to successfully targeting weak points. By doing this Devouring becomes much easier which helps to unlock the Dragon Core for each witch.
The Dragon Core System in Dragon Star Varnir is a lot like your skill tree in other RPGs, and with each Dragon Core comes a set of abilities that your witch can learn. Each witch on your team can learn similar abilities but there are unique types that only certain witches can learn, so be mindful of who’s Devouring during battles. If you want more water-based attributes then be sure to Devour using Minessa to give her buffs, or use Zephy for more light-based abilities. Since you’re able to learn the same abilities across multiple characters this adds a greater layer of depth, and can really be helpful in battles with multiple dragons of different elements.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Dragon Star Varnir looks and feels like your typical turn-based RPG, but when you throw in the Devouring ability, 3-tiered battles, and strategic party formations, it’s a very multi-layered game with a great deal of depth. No battle truly feels the same since you can always approach it in a variety of ways, whether it be swapping out one witch for another, or trying out a new ability to help buff your entire team. For this reason, Dragon Star Varnir is an incredibly tactical game that requires all of your attention in order to rise to the top. We didn’t dive much into elixirs and what they can also do for you long term, but to keep it brief you’ll want to take advantage of using elixirs in order to receive insane buffs to weapons, and armor. There will be hellish battles but each one will feel all the more satisfying once you’ve leveled up your characters appropriately, and taken the necessary steps to ensure your item inventory is adequate enough to keep your team alive.
- From the surface, the game seems pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot to understand in order to fully enjoy the experience.
- The 3-tiered battle system is very unique, and we found it to be a very compelling experience.
- Voicing in the game brought every character to life, which helped to create a more cohesive narrative.
- This game will require hours to complete, which is a plus!
- Loading times were a bit slow, but it’s understandable considering how much content is poured into the game.
- The background music during your expeditions can get a bit repetitive and sound boring.
Honey's Final Verdict: