Mad Crown is a turn-based RPG with roguelike elements – sounds good I hear you cry!!
Well… The story is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian mutie-punk world of scavengers, looters, mutants & tentacled beasties. The King has wandered off with the magic crown – the crown (apparently mad) endows the properties of leadership to the wearer. This has incited every misfit wannabe tyrant-king and their weirdo gurning friends to shuffle off in dank memes, darker passages and other woe-begotten hell holes to fulfill their power fantasies (but who wants a mad crown anyway? I would rather have a sexy crown or even a wise crown. You can keep your Mad Crown, thanks but no thanks!).
The action is run-of-the-mill ‘roam around the dungeon’ slaughter the weird inhabitants as well as the local fauna and flora, ransack any random treasure chests and generally be a total b’stard whilst pretending to be the hero. That being said they are very limited dungeons as there is very little to do, see or say. The highlight of the environmental immersion includes the artwork and the music, as well as the thousands of gravestones of previous failed Mad Crown seekers (literally, they are all over the sodding place with handy hints. Why I would heed the advice of the dead adventurer Cthulhu only knows. And who chiselled their epitaphs?!). Anyway…
The action and fighting are ordinary, with very limited tactical option or choice. You have the choice of a basic attack, a special action, a defensive stance or you can use an item. Every class also has its own passive ability. That is it! This does strike me (with a basic attack) as light on the tactical front. That being said, I found the battles broadly enjoyable, as tactically light as they are, the decisions of consequence really came down to: who to attack, whether to use one of your limited items or not, and how best to exploit a rather thin veneer of race-based enemy psychological traits. For example there is a mutant who nicks your loot and then legs it, there are psychic floating eyes who cause you to go a bit giddy and shoot your own people (“It was an accident!” [Hehehe I want the crown, I will do anything to get the Mad Crown! Mwahahaha….]). There are some big mofo beetles that get scared if there is no one behind them etc. So there is enough interest in the battles to make them vaguely interesting, merely quite limited and ordinary.
My gallant party of misfits kept coming across these weird spotty balloon beasts that did nothing except to use up two enemy slots in a fixed 4 slot encounter and then run away at the first opportunity. Just seemed to make those encounters a bit too easy and I felt cheated of the challenge.
As for the dialogue… Err…. The less said about the dialogue the better. The dialogue is pointless and tedious and empty. There are no dialogue choices to be made, it is as dull as a dirty puddle. Seriously. The text throughout was also littered with typos and errors of spelling and grammar. For me, it just kills the immersion.
The characters and classes were par for the course: I had a cleric, a ranged dude with a gun and 2 dudes who beat people up. There is no depth to the characters, no background story, no love interest, nothing to engage you with them. They did not even have a well-worn basic description or anything to love (or hate). They just are. Following me around like a bad smell. Shooting and chopping sleepy beholders, tank monsters and flying stabbers. A couple of other guys joined my group for some reason and no explanation, I steadfastedly ignored them – I’m not sharing my loot with them – bloody chancers.
Find your own mentally “deranged crown”! To be honest I’m not even sure which character I am anyway and if I did know, who are these other people following me around anyway in the wastelands killing shit? Who exactly will wear the crown if we find it?! Sadly, and I am genuinely sad about it, this game isn’t good enough for me to find out. It has a core of a good game here, it is a solid if basic, dungeon crawler. If only the devs had lovingly polished it through narrative and decent writing to make me care.
I haven’t finished this game, but I have played enough of this game to know that in all likelihood I will never play this game again and definitely will not finish it. Skip Mad Crown, save your cash (maybe for Sexy Crown release date 6th September 2069. Oh yeah!). Seriously if you like turn-based tactics with a dark tone – Darkest Dungeon is the grim dark pit you want to spend your doubloons on, not this weirdly competent but uninspired, unimmersive wasteland mutant of a game. Kill it! Kill it with guns, then kill it with fire just to make sure. OK it doesn’t quite deserve that, perhaps just mutter passive-aggressive things behind its back and then play Darkest Dungeon again.