Dragon Star Varnir – Review
Follow Genre: Visual Novel, Turn-based Action Adventure
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory international
Platform: PS4, PC
Tested on: PS4

Dragon Star Varnir – Review

Site Score
8.3
Good: Intense story with balanced gameplay in between
Bad: Simplistic dungeons
User Score
7.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)

These last few years we have been getting an increased amount of Japanese-influenced games that just scream anime or at least have some traditional Asian (Japanese, Korean) storytelling the way we consumers got used to it. It’s always a guess which game will be good and which won’t, but despite the overflow, we get plenty of different stories and sometimes slightly experimental games. One of these stories is Dragon Star Varnir. 

Story

As Dragon Star Varnir is roughly guessed about seventy or eighty percent story when looking at the time spent in the game, the story is the main component that you will get acquainted with. To summarize shortly without spoiling anything, Dragon Star Varnir is about an age of witches and dragons. The world is rich with dragons, and it seems like every other group in this world hates them. The main protagonist’s name is Zephy, a young and somewhat foolish witch hunter who lived his life in the service of the Knights of Requiem. These knights are almost like a cult in terms of what they believe, which is mainly that all witches must be eradicated because they supposedly are pure evil. On one of Zephy’s hunts, he gets totally wrecked by a dragon and two witches decide to step in and save him. From there on, the story develops further and deeper into unforeseen chaos as the Knights of Requiem, Witches, Dragons, and others, are all fighting for survival or what they believe in, despite people’s personalities.

A lot of this story is seen through cutscenes where, in a classic visual novel style, the characters their rather static full-bodied portraits are saying something to each other, accompanied by subtitles at the bottom. One of the instantly likable aspects to Dragon Star Varnir is that as you listen and read through these conversations, you have the option to fast-forward them, as well as bringing up a more text-like history of what has been said. Also, according to the game, there are multiple ways the story can end depending on how the emotional state of the characters is. So you’d better try your best.

Graphics

The best way to describe Dragon Star Varnir’s graphics is simple yet effective. The characters, while in visual novel mode, won’t move around much though they were given a sense of breathing as the softly move up and down, their chests actually expanding as they do so. The lip-synch is done in a very simple manner, opening and closing again in the same way with every word muttered. It’s not a bother though. There are subtle differences on each character showing their emotions such as anxiety and anger. A small sweat drop, a slightly different facial mode. It works.

The same goes for when you are allowed to ”free” roam the dungeons you go through or the fights. Most is done with rather simple 3D models of the characters, and most positions they find themselves in are static with a little different motion. The more active animations are not bad, but not that great either. Some standard slashes, spell movements, ultimates, and transformations are present. Sometimes there are simple in-dungeon animations to make something more clear to you. Again, it’s all fairly simple but it works.

Sound

Apart from sound effects that either have a function in battles such as classic slashing and spell sounds or while breathing some more life into the visual novels with the cracking of doors or approaching footsteps, the game has two enriching sound types. The background music gives a bit of a fantasy/medieval flair to the story in times of general peace and quiet and action-heavy rock during fights. That, and the voice acting which does sound full and rich. Maybe even better than most dubbed anime series.

Gameplay

So, if you read this far, you already know that Dragon Star Varnir is mostly a visual novel. Yet it does have some other elements to it. The second biggest is that you will fight creatures either by story-triggered events or by (mostly) choosing to fight one yourself as you wander through the dungeons you come across as you play along. The ”dungeons” are not as interesting. They are little maps with a lot of treasure and ingredients to pick up by simply walking up to things and pressing a button. If you see a dragon you can try to walk behind him and attack him first to get the starting attack. The same goes for when a creature sees you and attacks you first.

Nevertheless, what happens when in a fight is that you are all fighting in the air. There are three different planes you are fighting on, named lower, middle, and higher. It’s free to move to a different plane, and this has advantages as well. Where games such as Final Fantasy or Pokémon would have turn-based combat with say, position 1a being your first hero and 1b your second, Dragon Star Varnir is a bit more dimensional than this. You have attacks that hit a single enemy, hit an entire plane of enemies, hit two planes with a measure of two by two cubes in all directions, and more. This means that, especially as you get further in the game, you must get a bit more tactical about your positioning.

If you feel like you are too weak at some point, you can change the difficulty of the game at any time but also it’s wise to farm some dragons. See, witches have the ability to ”devour” dragons, which creates a dragon core. The core can be used to learn new abilities with points you earned in fighting enemies. These abilities can range from magic spells and physical attacks to passive buffs and stronger devour options which give a higher chance to successfully devour a dragon. It’s a weird mix of leveling up, catching Pokémon, fighting enemies with a classic battle system and more. Weird, yet quite effective at the same time. The only problem with this is that a lot the story kind of hurries you through all the fights and that the dungeons are a bit simplistic, making the leveling up not as free as it could be. It’s clear that, in the end, it’s still all about the story.

Last but not least, besides all the reading, wandering, and fighting, there’s still a little extra element added to the game. This element focuses a bit on the dating-sim type of aspect that you will sometimes see in these types of games. You can collect or buy gifts the same way you buy or collect gear to get stronger, only the gifts you use to improve your relationship with the witch girls you will get to know. Some gifts do more good than others, and it’s up to you to figure out which are the best ones to actually unlock more of the side-story with each character that might influence some things later on.

Conclusion

Dragon Star Varnir is a game that, despite a lot of these types of games being on the market, manages to lay down an interesting story that can keep you hooked. The visuals are effective, the sound is a nice addition to the overall experience, and the gameplay tries to be more original than the games it’s derived from. It’s definitely a nice game, especially if you just like these types of stories.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Dragon Star Varnir - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen


Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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