It took two years, but Dragon's Crown has finally been released, and I managed to snag my reserve the moment it became available. I tend to think of Dragon's Crown as being one of the industry's little miracles -- a game that almost never got to see the light of day because a previous publisher (UTV Ignition Entertainment) pulled a Phil Fish (translation: abandoned the game industry) before Atlus stepped in to help. Were it not for Atlus, Dragon's Crown would have been as good as cancelled. I hope someone will return the favor to Atlus in their time of need.
GameSpot gave Dragon's Crown a favorable review, but one thing that surprised me was a complaint regarding the character designs and illustrations, which they deemed potentially offensive and akin to "softcore porn". While I think such a claim is an overexaggeration, it is somewhat understandable when you consider the Sorceress and all the controversy surrounding her ridiculously oversized breasts. Still though, "softcore porn" is taking things a little too far. I'll tell you this--I've been playing Dragon's Crown almost religiously since picking it up, and I've seen the illustrations up close. Those things pale in relative comparison to the content I've seen in games like Catherine, God of War or the Witcher, which actually depict, more or less, intercourse and even full-on nudity. God of War even had a sex mini-game, and GS did not seem to complain about the issue in their review.
Maybe this is because Dragon's Crown is a T-rated game, or perhaps it is the expressed opinion of a particular reviewer, but it's hard not to see just a slight hint of a double-standard. I say this because the video review of Dragon's Crown proudly showcases various examples of suggestive illustrations seen in the game before levelling their obvious complaint of it being "softcore porn." It's also worth noting that brutal, explicit violence doesn't seem to be a issue with GS much either, if at all. I can recall a particular GS review for Hotline Miami 2 in which they affectionately tout the game as a "glorious celebration of violence." I am not sure where they were going with that, but to me, that sends a wrong impression that GS is "celebrating" something that is obviously one of the biggest problems we face in society. Just like "softcore porn".
Look, I don't know about you, but a busty Sorceress neither bothers me nor does it allure me. If anything is going to get me excited, it is the gameplay, and Dragon's Crown nails it. The game is a throwback to old-school beat-em ups; games I've personally played and loved in the past. King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Golden Axe, Dungeons and Dragons Arcade -- these are just some of the influences that drive the mettle of Dragon's Crown. The artwork is absolutely beautiful in high-def -- not since Legend of Mana or Muramasa: the Demon Blade have I ever been so entranced by the haunting, painterly beauty of a gaming landscape. Apart from that, Dragon's Crown is simple to learn, difficult to master and a ton of fun to plow through with each of the game's six classes. They're far from cookie-cutters---each class has their own individual skill set, feel and attack methodry that set them apart from one another, and certainly makes for some interesting replay sessions. I like how you can edit your own messages for each character, but these are likely for the online portion of the game---which you do not unlock until way later. It sounds strange, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The game wants players to have some experience in the single-player portion before it allows them to play with others online. Local multiplayer is available at the start, and you can create up to sixteen characters.
I'm playing the Elf as of this writing. She's recommended for expert players, and I'm not an expert player by any means (not yet anyway). As I said, the game is easy to learn, so it doesn't matter which class you start with; although the Fighter and the Amazon are good choices for starters who want to get their feet wet.
Anyhow, I hope to have more Dragon's Crown impressions in the future. Current gen isn't going anywhere yet. I may be holding off on the PS4 and XBox One, but I still have plenty of PS3/360 gaming to do---even if it takes me through 2014 to do it!