Crown Trick is a charming turn-based roguelike where you play as Elle. With the help of a mysterious crown, Elle has to make her way through The Nightmare Realm to rescue NPCs, permanently unlock new bonuses and, somewhere along the way, save the world.
Ever since Hades, I’ve been eager to try new roguelikes and the indie scene is full of them. What drew me in for Crown Trick is the stunning animation. To me, it gives off Over the Garden Wall or Gravity Falls-vibes. I was eager to jump in and learn more about this game.
The story of Crown Trick is relatively simple: you venture into The Nightmare Realm with this omniscient crown that helps you fight. Your purpose is to defeat all the nightmares and save the real world. It’s simple, but effective at explaining why you need to go to sleep to enter this world.
Now, where Crown Trick really shines is the battle system. It took me a hot minute to get used to, since most rogues I’ve played so far all rely on quick reaction times. Crown Trick wants you to take your time and have a good look around before making your move. You see, the combat in this game is turn-based; no one will move before you do. This allows you to strategize and think about your approach.
Another fun thing about Crown Trick is that you can swap weapons and powers mid-run, allowing you to completely change strategies and adapt to your environment. It also gives you the chance to play around with a lot of different options in early runs. Elite enemies allow you to unlock different skills and, the further you get in your runs, the more weapons you unlock. The freedom Crown Trick gives you in your approach to battle is what makes it an outstanding roguelike.
During your runs, you can also save NPCs. There’s four of them and they each open a little shop in your hub, which you can access between runs. Here, you can buy some very interesting permanent upgrades like extra elixirs, being able to hold more gems, or getting better items straight off the bat. These are nice additions and each NPC has their own personality, which makes them fun to have around.
While I’ve been singing the praises of Crown Trick online and in this review, there are a few things that I had issues with. My biggest problem was how unforgiving it was at the start. I know this is a roguelike and I know people will come at me like “Have you even TRIED Binding of Isaac?” (Yes, I have, loved it). But the thing about Binding of Isaac is that it’s a battle system I know. Just like Hades, it’s fast-paced and action-packed.
I tried to go into Crown Trick with that same approach—keep moving and you won’t get hit. Except, that’s the opposite of how Crown Trick works. It’s only when I took a step back and watched some videos online that it clicked for me. The game absolutely doesn’t care if you understand the battle system or not, throwing hard enemies at you from the get-go.
Another issue is that I sometimes had a very hard time reading certain weapon descriptions which, for a roguelike, is pretty important. Crown Trick came out on Xbox and PlayStation on September 7, but was already out on PC and Switch. Now, PC and Switch both allow you to sit closer to a screen, and at least for me, my PlayStation is at couch distance. The letters are not that big and different stats have different colours, so dark red, for example, is very hard to make out. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review, there is no way to change colour settings.
Overall though, Crown Trick is an amazing roguelike with a satisfying battle system, a stunning art-style, and intriguing characters. It gives you the freedom to approach battle in whichever way you see fit, and you can even change your entire battle style halfway through a run. It’s different and for that reason alone, it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as some other great roguelikes that have been gracing our screens recently.