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Dragonfly Chronicles review for PS Vita, PC


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PC
Publisher: Marco Ayala Games
Developer: Marco Ayala Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

If you’ve ever wondered how Mega Man would look if it were completely devoid of any charm, wonder no more: Dragonfly Chronicles is here to answer your question. And, not surprisingly, the answer is, “not very good.”

I want to be more positive about it, I really do. The game is apparently the passion project of a single developer, and it’s clear that he’s put all kinds of thought and effort into this game. There’s a big plot underlying it about a man searching to find out what happened to his father, told via cutscene. The 2D platforming levels are enormous, with no shortage of enemies to fight and ground to cover.

But it’s just so…bad. The dialogue is incredibly cheesy, and the story doesn’t always make sense. However, I’m fully willing to believe that’s just a case of iffy translation, and I assume it all made total sense at some point.

I can’t make the same allowances for anything else to do with Dragonfly Chronicles, though. The gameplay is rough. You’re almost constantly under siege from enemies, except you can’t move and attack at the same time, which means that your best bet is usually to stand in one place and punch until you’ve cleared the screen. However, this is useless against any of the enemies that shoot at you from a distance — and even though you have some kind of ranged attack, it’s effectively useless, seeing as you have only a limited amount of shots to fire, and the pick-ups/refills are few and far between. Compounding that, any time you get hit, you automatically get pushed back a few steps, which means it’s pretty common to get hit once and then stuck in an unending death spiral in which you get hit, get pushed back, and then get attacked again as you try to make your way to safety, pushing you back even further, until you finally run out of hit points and die.

This is a major issue, since, even though the game has unlimited continues, it’s pretty stingy with the checkpoints, and the levels here are massive. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t complain too much about too much content, but it’s hard not to when it’s laid out like it is here, where it’s very easy to have significant progress wiped out by one wrong step, and there’s no indication of when you’ve reached a checkpoint. I understand that the game wants to recreate the feel of old school, ‘80s-style side-scrolling action platformers, but instead Dragonfly Chronicles just feels more arbitrary than anything else.

Also, it’s hideous. The colours don’t go well together, and weird decisions abound. For example, there are a few places where the background is black, and the platforms are grey, and it’s very difficult to tell whether something is part of the background or if you can jump on it. There are also all kinds of canisters and tubes and other elements of evil villain labs, and it’s rarely clear what you can interact with and what’s meant to be in background.

Unfortunately, Dragonfly Chronicles isn’t one of those games that’s so bad it ends up being cheesy fun, or so bad that you can enjoy hating on it. It’s just plain bad, and not in any ways that make it redeemable.

Marco Ayala Games provided us with a Dragonfly Chronicles PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: D+