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PAX East Hands-On Preview

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Aptly named indie developer Grimm Bros. have put together a take on the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood by the Grimm brothers with Dragon Fin Soup. In Dragon Fin Soup, you play as ‘Red Robin’, who is essentially the character of Little Red Riding Hood– if she were also a knife wielding, shotgun toting, raging alcoholic.

Dragon Fin Soup takes place on the world of Asura, which is actually on the back of a giant, flying space turtle. Conflict between the humans and realm’s various non-human races, collectively dubbed “Wesen”, raged endlessly, until a human princess died in order to save her lover, a Wesen himself. Before she died, this princess gave birth to a half-human half-Wesen prince who ended up uniting the realm’s various kingdoms in peace.  More recently, Asura crossed paths with another planet, which rained down magical red crystals onto its surface. We don’t know the details of how these crystals will impact the game’s story, but we’re told they will have a significant role to play in the game’s events.

There are a couple of ways to play the game. Story mode, as you might imagine, follows along a predetermined story, though the layout of each level is procedurally generated. You can play this in normal mode or hardcore mode – which features permadeath. Survival mode drops you into a forest with the same procedurally generated levels and permadeath is, obviously, a given. Though unlike most survival modes, you can actually survive and finish this one. If you’re a more competitive type, you can take a crack at Endless mode (also permadeath), and shoot for a high score on the leaderboards.

Gameplay is a top down SNES-style action RPG affair, similar to games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You can attack and break objects in the world, though doing so in towns will result in a fine. It’s up to you whether you think slaughtering a sheep in town or breaking some pots is worth the potential payoff in loot. The game features all the typical RPG trappings you might expect. Red Robin will level up, acquire gear, learn new abilities and spells, and even craft. Dragon Fin Soup’s also got a twisted sense of humor and even a good deal of freedom to screw up. I looted an awesome pair of new gloves and accidentally ate them trying to equip them, dealing me significant damage. Turns out trying to digest a pair of gloves isn’t too healthy for you.

Combat is an interesting mix of action and turn-based elements. When you encounter an enemy in the field they won’t move unless you do. It’s a sort of simultaneous turn system.  Red (and enemies) also have a line-of-sight, so it’s important move carefully through an area or risk being caught off-guard by some vicious enemies. Of course, you can sneak up on enemies and surprise attack them as well.  I had three methods of attack at my disposal. In close combat, I could rapidly shank my enemies with what appeared to be a butcher knife. At range, I could opt for my boomstick and nail dudes with area-of-effect damage, though this consumes bullets. And finally, I also had an inventory of bombs, which can be placed on the ground and will go off in a massive AOE blast after a couple of ‘turns’.

The demo kicked off with me playing as Red Robin, a bounty hunter, who is seeking revenge against those who murdered her family.  Red’s got a lead to the murderer’s location and nothing will get between her and exacting vengeance on the guy. I was joined by a couple of companions for this mission, though they are fully AI controlled. It’s during this mission that you get acclimated to the game’s controls and combat system. Red eventually tracks down the murderer here, but he gets away after summoning a bunch of undead goons to take you out.  After my defeat, I woke up in town and it was here that I followed the storyline some more and picked up a variety of sidequests to tackle. I seemed to have some freedom in where I wanted to go on the map at this point, but I chose poorly, and ended up in an area filled with enemies that were far too strong for me to handle. Stupidly, I chose the hardcore difficulty and ended up permanently dying here, cutting my demo a bit short.

Even though my demise came a bit earlier than I’d hoped, I was able to get a good feel for Dragon Fin Soup, and the game stood out for me as one of the highlights of the show. The game’s unique sense of humor, twisted fairytale setting, interesting combat system, and striking art style all combined to create an experience that I’m looking forward to playing through when it releases later this year. 

Dragon Fin Soup is set to release for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita later this summer, with a PC, Mac, and Linux release to follow in the months after.


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB