Over at Tap Repeatedly, Amanda Lange shows how to write videogame reviews in her Dragon’s Crown review. She doesn’t list features. She doesn’t hold forth about whether the game is fun. She doesn’t try to gauge whether I’ll like it, or whether you’ll like it, or whether the game playing public will like it, or whether the enthusiast media will like it. She doesn’t focus on how it runs on one platform vs another platform. She instead focuses on her own experience and her reaction to Dragon Crown’s distinct style. She writes articulately, she includes scads of context, and she puts at the forefront her unique insight. She doesn’t even focus on gameplay, just as some movie reviews might not focus on acting or special effects or cinematography. She has her own priorities.
Furthermore, Lange is slyly funny. How can you resist this lead-in, acknowledging the controversy about the game’s sexy and/or sexist portrayal of women?
…it’s impossible to separate Dragon’s Crown from its visual art. I think we should go ahead and gaze into the cracks here; let’s stick our faces in and motorboat the hell out of this controversy.
There are plenty of other quotable tidbits. But unlike reviews that just string together a list of bon mots without any meaningful insight, Lange has an important point. The crux of her review is that Dragon’s Crown illustrates — quite literally — the difference between intentional hypersexualization and ignorant hypersexualization.
And like all great reviews, it doesn’t matter one whit whether I agree with it. As a videogame, I don’t care for Dragon’s Crown. She loves it. That difference of opinion has no bearing on whether her review is good (it is) or whether it’s of any value to me (again, it is). If more people wrote reviews like that, I’d read more reviews.
(Thanks, Mr. Wheeljack!)