Dragon: Marked for Death

Mega Man Zero out of Ten

Mega Man Zero consumed my life for roughly a decade. I played all four of them - and the collection - from the first game's Japanese release date in 2002 until that final collection of the series in 2010. Total non-stop playing. Ran through them over and over again. Did everything, unlocked every form, every feature. Even the wretched mini-games in Mega Man Zero 3. As a consequence, when I first saw Dragon: Marked For Death, it triggered a dormant instinct within me. This looked like Mega Man Zero. I had to have it.

Disappointingly, Dragon is not a whole lot like Mega Man Zero. Graphically, it evokes that series, but scarcely in any other sense. It doesn't have a gameplay flow to speak of, with even the most basic enemies taking at least three full attack combos from the DPS character "Empress" to bring down. And yes, this multi-character game has been sold with two of the four characters behind a paywall. Ostensibly this is to keep the price down for players only interested in using one class, but in my view it's a fairly transparent money grab from a company who, god love 'em, have a form for DLC abuse.

Thanks to the enemies' long lifebars, even rudimentary combat feels like a slog. This being a game with a multiplayer focus, I assumed that having a full party would mitigate this problem, but the enemy health appears to scale to the number of players; no matter what you do, you're gonna be whaling on that ogre for five or six minutes, dodging its same three attacks the whole time. Also, I spent a while trying to get a local multiplayer game going on my TV only to discover that this game's idea of "local multiplayer" requires two Switches. They could have made that a bit clearer!

There's fun to be had. Fleetingly, you'll get a whisper of Mega Man exhilaration from avoiding a particularly devastating projectile attack, and some players will enjoy the drip-feed of EXP and loot. For me, this is a big disappointment - it could have been great but the missions are dull, the locations uninspired and worst of all, the combat is tedious. Patches could fix the balancing issues (and if they do, I'll let you know), but there seems to be a real lacklustre core to Dragon: Marked for Death.

Review code for this game was provided by the publisher.