This game is crazy. You have alligator Thanos keeping human slaves, giant creatures devouring entire planets, and a dentist that replaces limbs with sushi. It is quite unlike any visual novel I’ve played before, even if it does come with its problems.
Great art with plenty of animation. Marco & The Galaxy Dragon is a great-looking visual novel. It’s got some excellent character designs, detailed backgrounds, and doesn’t even look that bad when upscaled to 1440p. What really sells the art though is how animated it is. This is a VN packed full of event CGs, enough so that you get a new one pretty much every few clicks. In fact, the store page even advertises the “1000 images and stills” included. It does so for good reason too, as it really makes the whole experience feel much more animated, a lot better than VNs that simply have character sprites talking on screen that only occasionally change poses.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Marco & The Galaxy Dragon also includes a number of fully animated cutscenes. These aren’t just cheap animations either, they’re full-blown anime-style cutscenes, something I would expect to see from a TV anime. These are seamlessly woven into the game, making for a very cool VN experience.
Excellent comedic writing. Although Marco & The Galaxy Dragon does have a more serious story to it, it’s primary genre is comedy and that is also something it does really well. If I had to describe it, I would say it’s like you took Studio Trigger and tasked them with making a comedy visual novel. Of course, the result is a rather crazy game, one that will have you constantly jumping around, visiting different characters, and going through all of the antics that result.
Everything I described in the intro does indeed happen, sometimes within 5 minutes of each other. It’s so erratic that it’s honestly hard to keep track of at times, but it never grows boring either. There’s always some cool new character, story twist, or other comedy bit around the corner. Sure, this does lead to some problems (which I will get into later), but it’s some great writing all things considered and is definitely the game’s strongest feature.
Great localization. For those of you worried about the quality of the localization, I did not find any problems in that department. I went through the entire game without ever seeing a single typo or grammar issue. All of the lines were well-worded and it didn’t feel like I was reading a machine translation. You can also swap between English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese at any time during play and can even have any two of those displayed simultaneously. This is a feature we’ve been seeing more of in recent VN releases and I am all for it as someone learning the language. Really, the localization was great all around, with no glaring issues to note.
Lackluster serious story elements. Unfortunately, the game’s biggest pro is also one of it’s biggest con. Marco & The Galaxy Dragon is a visual novel that tries to tell a serious story, but said story is lost in its own comedic writing. This is absolutely a game that puts comedy first, at the expense of any other aspect of its story. Of course, this leads to an otherwise lackluster overall storyline.
The character development isn’t all that great, the ending felt rushed, and the premise really wasn’t all that interesting in comparison to the game’s comedy bits. The game fared much better as an episodic comedy like it was at the beginning, instead of what it tried to go for by the end of it. The result is a visual novel that, while fun in the moment, does not leave any sort of impact.
Too short for what it tries to do. This is more of an extension to the previous con, as part of the reason why the game’s serious story elements failed to resonate was simply due to how short the entire experience was. This is a visual novel I managed to 100% in just under 5 hours. Granted, I read VNs really fast and with instantaneous text display, so it will likely take most around 10 hours to complete. Regardless, this is very short for a visual novel, especially one that tries to develop a story like Marco & The Galaxy Dragon. It simply was not given the time it needed for its story to succeed, leaving behind bits and pieces of what could have been a great story in addition to its comedic bits.
Compared to what we usually see in the medium, Marco & The Galaxy Dragon is quite the unique offering. It has some great art with plenty of animation, as well as some excellent comedic writing, similar to what you’d get if Studio Trigger were to do a VN. However, it does this at the expense of trying to tell an actual story, which it does try to do (especially towards the end). Regardless, it is a fun read all things considered and one I would recommend, just don’t go into it expecting the story to blow you away.
You can buy Marco & The Galaxy Dragon on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.