Hidden Dragon Legend is a 2.5D sidescrolling action platformer where you play as a ninja equipped with a sword, throwing stars, a grappling hook, and the speed that only years of training can accomplish. It’s a game all about platforming between levels of buildings, finding hidden areas, and evading bad guys before you strike and it’s pretty fun.
There’s no blocking to be done in Hidden Dragon Legend. You can only evade enemy attacks by dodging at the right times. In this way it feels fast, because you’re constantly moving past enemies trying to get behind them and start swinging. This combined with the decent feeling platforming makes for a nice gameplay loop, but one that could get repetitive depending on the final length of the game. The demo I got to play was essentially four or five waves of enemies with platforming in between and then a boss battle. The enemies were of three different types — there was a basic swordsman, a swordsman with a shield that could block anything coming at him from the front and some winged robots that are dealt with using the grappling hook. The boss was much larger than the other enemies, had a larger move set and seemed harder to evade and get behind.
There were also some super moves that you can charge up and use by pressing either the triangle, square, circle, or cross buttons combined with R2. While I wasn’t able to pull any of these off, they were shown in a trailer and they look pretty cool. They seem useful for taking out multiple enemies at once. You can also heal with triangle, which I kept forgetting to do, which is why I am also not good at games in the Souls-Borne genre. But I digress.
The platforming in Hidden Dragon Legend is interesting and feels different from a lot of sidescrollers these days. The game takes place in ancient China, so the architecture is pretty cool, and Hidden Dragon Legend capitalizes on using it to make a fun game world to jump around and explore. There are up to four vertical levels in each area, allowing for explorable maps and hidden chests. I was told there will also be environmental puzzles to decipher later on in the game. The level I played was pretty early on. Puzzle solving could shake things up for a game with a consistent loop of platforming and hack ‘n’ slashing, so hopefully they find a good balance of the three.
If you’re looking for a fun hack and slash game with simple controls and easy-to-understand mechanics and some moderate puzzle solving to do, then Hidden Dragon Legend is a solid choice. It’s got a lot of character and a great setting with beautiful art. It’s also the first game to ever get a physical release in China, which is cool, since China has been an outlier about video games. Look for Hidden Dragon Legend on PlayStation 4 on September 19.