Over ten years in the making, Dragon Marked For Death (from the people behind Mega Man 9/10 and the Zero series) has finally arrived exclusively on Switch. In this 2D side-scrolling action RPG, players control a member of the Dragonblood Clan whose home has been destroyed by an evil empire. In your quest for revenge, you'll have to take on quests and increase your status in the world in order to gain access to the Divine Family who reside within the local castle's weirdly not very heavily guarded walls...
There are four different playable characters to choose from, but the unusual way that DMFD is being sold means that you'll have to purchase some DLC if you want to try them all out - two versions of the game are available, both containing the main game plus two characters each, with the other two sold separately. Each character has their own attacks and abilities, so it's worth checking them all out ahead of time if you're considering picking this one up. Frontline Fighters contains the Empress and Warrior characters, both solid choices for easy pick up and play, while Advanced Attackers gives access to the Witch and Shinobi, both more complicated to use (especially the Witch, whose attacks rely on your ability to memorise some ridiculously long strings of button presses) but super rewarding to control once mastered.
The slums outside the castle act as your main hub, containing little more than a couple of shops where you can buy useful items and manage your inventory, and a bar where quests are initiated. DMFD isn't a big sprawling open world game - instead, players are sent to the relevant area when quests are accepted, and each mission plays out across a single level. These areas are open to exploration, but each quest has to be completed within a fairly strict time limit so there isn't a whole lot of opportunity for messing around.
More and more quests become available as your character's level increases, and completed quests can be replayed at higher difficulties to earn additional rewards. There's a fair amount of grinding to be done, but DMFD's gameplay is generally so great that the ability to replay levels at more challenging difficulties should be seen as a positive in this case.
Playing solo is good fun, but some areas are insanely tricky to get through without the help of other players. DMFD supports up to four players online, and teaming up with others is almost a necessity if you want to take down some of the later bosses. Local co-op is available as well, although not on a single console - each player will need their own Switch and a copy of the game to team up locally. We did notice a few different quest rewards in multiplayer, and each character complements the others nicely, so it's worth checking out this side of things even if you're the sort who would usually baulk at the idea of playing online (like us).
DRAGON MARKED FOR DEATH / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: INTI CREATES / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW