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There is fan service in there, and some people will look at that and the anime trappings and not be able to move past it, but underneath this exterior lies a heart that is in many ways the precise opposite of what you might be expecting. It's almost - dare I say it - feminist in the critique it provides over the way that women are treated in this fairy tale world.
It's anime based characters appearance, and the game's overall look, are par for the course when it comes to games by Compile Heart and Idea Factory. Scratch the surface, however, and you'll find a gem of a game that's both enjoyable in terms of story and gameplay.
Dragon Star Varnir is a JRPG through and through, with all the JRPG tropes you can shake a stick at. Being a Compile Heart game, it has the fan service to boot. Along with the fan service, there is a relationship building a decent story and feeding young kids raw meat (don’t try that at home).
While it still maintains some of the annoying quirks of past Compile Heart titles, Dragon Star Varnir is worth playing for its fantastic battle system and likeable characters.
Dragon Star Varnir shows that Compile Heart/Idea Factory have developers with great ideas, but lack the resources to fully elaborate them. It's a good game, but it gives the impression that it could have been much more if it reached its full potential.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
Dragon Star Varnir isn’t perfect. The narrative starts out pretty rough and the environs can also look dated at times. Despite those shortcomings, the storytelling also has powerful moments and forces you to mull over some tough choices. The witch designs are also neat and its dragon-devouring mechanic also has a bit of a Pokemon vibe to it that will make you want to catch ‘em all. Dragon Star Varnir may not provide the best of first impressions. Give it some time, however, and you might find a game that pleasantly surprises you in the end.
Dragon Star Varnir is a dark tragic fated RPG that covers the struggle of the Witches of Varneria as they search for a way to break their fate. The character designs are alluring along with their fitting outfits. Players can easily find one or more that resonates with them. If you're in the mood for a dark game with enthralling girls, you might like this title.
If you want an enjoyable RPG to add to your collection or are a fan of Idea Factory/Compile Heart or dragons and buxom magic users, by all means, add this one to your collection and devour all the fun and engagement it offers.
While I could see this review of Dragon Star Varnir coming off as overly critical, I'd say it's more safe than anything else. There is nothing wrong with following a commonly used story, sticking to what you've done in the past and trying your best to make each experience a little different. I don't know if I'd say Dragon Star Varnir will stand out besides the lovely character designs, but it's a game that, if nothing else, fans of their previous work will likely enjoy.
Compile Heart has become increasingly proficient at producing titles with dark premises and Dragon Star Varnir is proof of that. And fortunately, unlike other Galapagos RPG titles, the focus on narrative doesn't leave the actual gameplay hanging by the wayside.
If you love these small, niche JRPGs and can snag a copy of Dragon Star Varnir at a discount, I'd say pick it up. The $60 price point for recycled assets and a game that has more reading than voice over just seems a little too steep for me. But hey, that's just one girl's opinion.