If there was one way to describe the experience when playing through Hidden Dragon Legend, it would be shamefully stagnant. The Imperial China setting is interesting, but the ancient time seems fitting for a game that feels archaic to play. While there is an acute amount of depth to skills and equipment you discover throughout its main story, everything else about Hidden Dragon Legend quickly falls apart. There’s nothing mythical or legendary about it that will make you want to keep playing.
Hidden Dragon Legend is a visually unappealing game. Character models and backgrounds look as if they were made in the early 2000s for the PlayStation 2, with the bare minimum amount of detail to pass for whatever they’re supposed to represent. Some cutscenes show characters speaking without any lip syncing or facial movements during a close-up shot, which looks incredibly awkward.
Levels that you explore look basic with a few random lighting effects to give some element of polish. Areas with a floor that should look wet instead look as if they’re metallic for no reason. In addition, the voice acting during cutscenes and gameplay is atrocious, with dialogue that is written equally as bad as it’s delivered.
Gameplay is where Hidden Dragon Legend really crumbles under itself. Not only are the controls stiff and the combat incredibly sluggish, but there’s an abundance of various bugs and glitches. Your movement can get locked out frequently by attacks and recovery frames while you’re still taking damage from enemies, leaving no window to regain control.
On more than one occasion, enemies will stand in place and let you destroy them without and reaction or sense of purpose. In other instances, some enemies will randomly engage you with constant armored attacks that prevent you from staggering them, or in some cases dealing any damage. The combination of all of this makes even the simplest scenarios in Hidden Dragon Legend feel very frustrating to play through.
If you find yourself powering through the annoying and infuriating chore of playing Hidden Dragon Legend’s combat, there’s lot of different skills and abilities to unlock. Combos that offer extended button combinations for extra attacks, as well bonuses to different skills can increase your character’s power. You can equip three different skills that get mapped to a face button with the right shoulder button, which can be swapped out later for other abilities.
Playing through the story also unlocks a number of extra costumes and equipment to use in each level, which can be accessed through the game’s level select. You can change into these costumes at any time, even in levels you’ve previous completed. These are great to have, but in no way solve any of the game’s bigger and more damaging problems.
Hidden Dragon Legend has a lot of issues that make it a very rough game to play through. With so many great inspirations in the same genre, it’s a shame to see only the bare minimum done with such an interesting concept. Hidden Dragon Legend is a graphical mess, its gameplay is frustrating, and it offers very little reason to push through what some may consider a dull experience. This dragon may be better off left hidden in the past.
This review was based on a digital review code for Hidden Dragon Legend for the PlayStation 4, provided by Oasis Games.