"This game kinda made go "What?" all through it..."
Plot / Concept: 4 / 10
To sum things up, a long time ago legendary dragons were defeated and removed from the Human world, however the world of Drakkhen are planning to annihilate humanity, so the dragons give the Human world a chance to prevent this from happening.
Your party of 4 is sent to Drakkhen to collect 8 magical gems that will be fused together to create an even more powerful gem to keep the human and Drakkhen worlds separate. The story takes a detour rather quickly when you realize the Drakkhen world is having problems of it's own. A civil war has erupted between and two factions have formed: One that is (more or less) on your side and one who wants all humans dead. Safe to say, you end up allying with those who are on your side, and you collect all 8 gems either by killing your enemies or having your allies donate theirs.
Interesting that they put a twist in the plot right at the start. Also, there is sufficient reading along the way, lore for inside the game and how existence came to be. Still, the development of the plot line is very chunky and rather difficult to follow. It seems like they were so tight on space for text, that you only 'just' barely get the understanding of what you are supposed to do and THAT was it.
Your characters are essentially automatons, which is typical for a lot of Western RPGs, so do not expect much in development. The focus is on the game, storyline, and the 8 Drakkhen leaders.
Frankly, it is a game you are either going to love or hate. I am kinda caught in the middle. One problem I did have was trying to keep track of all the different character names in the story. Not only were they weird, but they all sounded VERY close to each other. At least the leader names are slightly distinctive. If the name ends in "Khen", it is male. If the name ends in 'Ka", it is female.
Gameplay: 4 / 10
This was the part of the game that made it rather... hectic to play.
The physical handling of the game (menu, equipment management, etc.) seems rather shaky. You have to push a lot of buttons just to get the results you want (first just to activate the menu box, then you pick your options. Then waddle through your options, your characters and finally get to doing what you want. Each character can equip a small amount of items and equipment. Realistic in some ways, but a bit annoying from a game's perspective. At least that is spread out over 4 characters. Also, your equipment can and will break, forcing you to seek replacements, regardless of how good your equipment is. Typically, the more powerful the monsters are (compared to your characters), the more likely something will get trashed, so it may be wise to save your best stuff for important fights. You can also control 'what' your character does in battle, like fight, cast spells, etc.
Your characters can (and probably will) die. When they do, especially in the early parts of the game, they can only be revived at special temples that are a pain to get to. In late parts of the game, if you have the suitable spell caster with your party, you can revive as well.
A funny broken feature in-game is the use of projectiles. Your party and enemies can fire projectiles as an insane rate. Therefore, if you can get bows for all your characters early on, it will greatly improve your chances of survival. The bow is one of the less powerful weapons in the game, but it's crazy rate of fire will help offset that. On the downside, that also means if you have magic equipped, they will burn through their MP like there that is their final battle. Useful for boss battles, but not practical for regular encounters.
The battles... ugh... Your characters fight on their own... you merely supervise them and instruct them to do special things as necessary.
The concept of 'backtracking' is taken to such a new level, it makes me shake my head in wonder. To make things worse, SNES' 3-D Mode 7 is sluggish, making anything kind of map crawling exactly that: Crawling! The world map is not very large, but it takes time to navigate through it... At least they did put some teleporters in the game design (on the far ends of the world map), but they not very practical.
At least dungeon navigation is pretty good. It is straightforward, with obvious doors (and I believe some secrets), enemies show up when they should and you can micromanage your party, split them up or keep them together. I think there is only one actual instance where you may need to split up your party. For the most part, you should keep them all together, to improve their odds for survival. There are also puzzles to solve, objects to interact with and stuff to pickup.
In short: The base concept could have been great, but it ended up feeling like a big hit and miss with some of the game play feeling substandard.
Controls: 5 / 10
While the overall feel of the controls are not bad, they can certainly feel worse as the game plays through. Since you do not 'control' your characters in battle that makes the controls feel non-essential, unless you need to heal someone to keep them alive.
Music: 7 / 10
One track I hate is the weird-sounding one when and old guy with a hideously long beard shows up (Often to provide hints or to sell you stuff). Otherwise, the rest of the OST is good. The overworld themes are all good. The dungeons feel a bit ominous. The Dragon Prince tracks sound a bit badass, even though the sound font used in Drakkhen was sub-par, but consistent, since KEMCO used the same sound font for all their SNES games.
Sound Effects: 2 / 10
Seriously, who's idea was it to come up with those idiotic magic spell sounds?! The hit and attack stuff was just as bad and some of the monster sounds borderlined on annoying.
Graphics: 7 / 10
This is all over the board for Drakkhen.
The 3-D world is weak and unimpressive. While there is a little bit of variety in the building designs, the seem more like an afterthought. The designs are bland to the point where it's comparable to low-end NES-style graphics, or worse, drawn with Paint Shop. At least they put variety in the buildings, depending on which part of the world you are in. (Ice world you deal with insulated huts and ice caves, the fire world has tents and sand castles... very stereotype).
The dungeons are much more interesting. The basic room is detailed, but they keep re-using that same basic room over and over for all the different dungeons. At least they change in style as you explore different dungeons. However, they made the base room to allow customization, adding doors, objects in the room and stuff so they can try to make it look different.
The character graphics are fine. Not a lot of detail, but the portrait shot is interesting, since it will show what equipment each character has on. Several 'Building interior' shots also look decent too.
The monster graphics are not bad. They are not overly vibrant, but at the same time they do not blend in with the background. A couple of them looked weird (like the fire elementals), but monsters like the scorpions and spiders are done well.
Another nice touch is the night / day settings, allowing for different colour palettes to appear.
Low. One it's beat, it's beat. Since the game does not track things like your items and stuff (It only tracks how many of your characters are still alive at the end of the game), the only reason to play it would probably be for the story.