Building (Critical) Consensus: Dragon’s Crown
Dragon’s Crown might be one of the more controversial releases of 2013 in the ongoing concern over sexism and misogyny video games. The 2D side-scrolling brawler has been making headlines since its art first hit the internet. The “hypersexualized” art of the game which depicts a female sorceress with massive breasts, an amazon in almost no clothing and male characters so impossibly muscled that they shouldn’t be able to move.
Some reviewers didn’t let the art style influence their review while others weighed it heavily in their scores. Polygon was the site that’s taken the most flak from gamers (or, at least, Dragon’s Crown fans) over their review which came in almost 20% under the GameRankings average as a result of the game’s art style and depiction of female NPCs. But, of course, that’s why you read multiple reviews. And, of course, you’ll know ahead of time if the art style is off-putting so you won’t let a bad review heavily criticizing the art style get to you, I hope.
Destructoid (95%): Dragon’s Crown is quite literally a crowning achievement in the beat ’em up genre. Utilizing some of the best design concepts of the past 20 years, Vanillaware succeeds in creating a captivating world that you just can’t help but experience over and over. While it may not win over the hardiest of brawler haters, if you’ve even had an inkling of joy hacking and slashing at any time in your gaming career, you should probably be playing Dragon’s Crown.
PlayStation LifeStyle (90%): Dragon’s Crown is, hands down, one of the most beautiful and fun pieces of art that I have ever interacted with. The visuals alone would be enough to justify a high score, but the gameplay cements it in place, minus some confusion when the screen gets really busy and some minor annoyances with the menu system and story progression in couch co-op. While it feels a lot like a retro throwback beat ‘em up title, Dragon’s Crown maintains a freshness throughout that never grows stale.
GameTrailers (85%): Dragon’s Crown has retrieved the bones of forgotten warriors from arcade beat ’em ups the 90s, bestowing upon them flesh once more… perhaps adding a little more flesh than other necromancers might have added. It redefines the forms and then breathes life into them, painting for them a colorful and meticulously decorated world of monsters, knaves, towers, fortresses and lairs. These new heroes are set upon a repeating cycle of treasure hunting, battle, and personal development. Dragon’s Crown drives so hard at its goals that it’s difficult not to pay attention.
GameSpot (80%): With so many goals to pursue, Dragon’s Crown is much larger than most beat-’em-ups, and more action-packed than most role-playing games. It’s both beautiful and captivating in its style and execution, and overall, it’s a great hybrid of two very different genres.
Polygon (65%): It’s a fun mix of RPG tropes and dynamic brawler action. But I found its over-exaggerated art style alienating and gross in its depiction of women even as it shines in building a world of fantastic monsters and environments, and the forced grind through the same stages dulled my excitement. Dragon’s Crown is a wild place to visit, but it doesn’t quite hold up in the light of day.