Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: If Idea Factory
Platforms: PS4, Switch, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 03/08/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
I reviewed Dragon Star Varnir back in 2019 on the PS4 somewhere else. And now it is on the Switch, so I had to jump back in and eat me some dragons once more.
The story of Dragon Star Varnir follows the story of Zephy, a Holy Knight. His holy mission to rid the world of all witches and Dragons. Zephy is separated from his squad while trying to find them again. He is attacked by a Dragon. The Dragon almost killed him until two Witches Kill the Dragon.
The Witches want Zephy alive to trade for their sister. So they try to heal his wounds that Zephy has sustained with their magic, but with no luck. As a last course of action, they decide to give him dragon blood that heals them. To their amazement, it worked, and Zephy recovers from his wounds.
This act of ‘kindness’ turns Zephy in to a witch, the first ever male witch. With no way to return to the Holy Knights, Zephy reluctantly joins the witches in their struggle to survive, as well as being the Holy Knights’ most wanted target. Follow Zephy and his new allies as they try to figure out why he became a witch. And how it will change his view of witches and all he has been taught.
Dragon Star Varnir has a great story and a fantastic cast of loveable and weird characters. And being from Compile Heart, they guarantee you some fan service along the way.
If you have ever played a Compile Heart JRPG, you know what you are in for, some exploration, events, battles, events, events, events. For JRPGs, they stick to a tried and tested method and, in all honestly, this is up there as one of their best.
I will get the simple stuff out of the way. While in an area map you can freely change to any character in the party (With Karikaro being my fav). Swapping characters has a purpose each witch has a world ability that is needed to progress through the area and find hidden items. For example, Zephy can destroy barriers while Karikaro can detect hidden items.
While progressing, there will be event markers these act as story makers. They will expand on the story in a Visual Novel style. There are a lot of these as expected. Luckily the writing and voice acting it excellent throughout.
There are no random encounters, the enemies are on the map. The battle system is where the game makes a few changes.
Being witches, there is only one way to fight, FLYING! I mean, you are fighting dragons. Battles are, mostly, typical JRPG fights, turn based, magic and physical attacks, elemental weaknesses and so on. However, the area is split in to three levels: top, middle and bottom. For the most part, this means nothing until you find a bloody giant dragon.
These Giant Dragons act as boss fights and will take up all three levels with three body parts head, body and tail. Now the levels count. As each of the body parts has its own HP bar and attack. For example, we can stop Fire attack from the head by destroying it and so on until the big bugger is dead.
The party comprises three witches, however, each witch can have a support witch with them. They will occasionally do a follow up attack for extra damage.
As the party dishes out damage and receives damage, a meter will fill. Once full, the fanservice will begin. The cutscene is what you expect, naked and covered by little bits. But not only does it look good, but it doubles the power of your attacks, making you in to one hell of a force to be up against.
There is one ANNOYING PROBLEM!!!! these transformations automatically activate, meaning on most occasions it wastes them on easy mobs and becomes pointless. As it only last for that fight.
This is the by far the most important ability in the game and one that must be used. Devour and all its subsequent variations you will unlock is how the witches augment their power.
Yes, it works as it says the witch eats the dragon. This will grant that witch a dragon blood core (if it’s a boss, all witches get the core). These cores will provide stat boosts and new abilities when unlocked. Battles gained points are used to unlock the core. Giving a reason to grind. Not only for point but to make sure each witch has devoured all the dragons.
Dragon Star Varnir is a relatively short JRPG at around 20 hours, but does boost different endings. So get back on there and answer questions differently.
The game still looks nice on the switch, but compared to the PS4 version, the visuals are more grainy and washed out on the Switch. This does not take away from the game at all and it wouldn’t be so noticeable if I had not played it on PS4.
Overall, Dragon Stair Varnir is a must play for any Compile Heart JRPG fan. You will not be disappointed at all. The story alone is enough to get you to play it.
Why are you still here go, buy it.