Dragon’s Dogma Review

When Dragon’s Dogma was first unveiled at E3 a number of years ago, it looked a tad generic and not at all interesting. However as time went on, Capcom became more and more lenient about the details of this elusive game made by the creators of acclaimed series’ such as Devil May Cry, Breath of Fire and Resident Evil. The more I saw of the game, the more it grew on me and I immediately took back my first impressions of the game; this is not generic at all, this is an idea that could be something very special.

You start off the game with your character’s heart being taken out by a dragon. It quickly becomes apparent that you are someone who is known as “The Arisen” and it’s your job to rid the world of the huge dragon that pierced your heart out. You are not alone however, for as The Arisen you have access to a strange band of people known as pawns who you can enlist and they do your every bidding. You can even pick one up, throw them off a cliff and they’ll be absolutely fine with it.

Pawns are arguably the most important part of Dragon’s Dogma, since they accompany your character throughout your journey it’s important to keep your team balanced, with each character (including yourself) playing an important role such as the healer, a tank and other staples of the genre. You’re able to access them from the “Rift” where you’re able to favourite certain pawns. One thing I’ve noticed however, if your pawn gets used a lot you eventually attain a massive amount of Rift Crystals, the currency used to hire pawns. With a lot of Rift Crystals, you’re able to hire the best pawns and pretty much destroy the balancing of the game. I’m very disappointed that Capcom have chosen this route instead of online co-op, which would have been much, much more compelling than using the adequate but broken pawn system.

Having played games such as Dark Souls and Skyrim this past year, I noticed that there’s a certain dichotomy to level design within RPG’s of recent. They tend to be either very tight and controlled (such as Dark Souls and The Witcher 2 ) or very open and promote exploration (such as Skyrim and Amalur). Dragon’s Dogma falls within the latter, but fails to capture the same coherence and detail of the world presented within games such as the Elder Scrolls series, a problem that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning also had, with that game’s world having almost “too much” lore to it without any real compelling base. However with Dragon’s Dogma it’s more like the world does not really have any tales behind it or any explanations for any of the events or goings on within the world and as a result the game feels less compelling to explore the vast world of Gransys. Luckily the failures of the game’s world is redeemed by the absolutely excellent combat that Capcom has crafted for the game.

There are different combat styles for the game, including high octane sword and board action, bow and daggers, or even a combat mage. The variety of options available should appease many of the players within the game. I started off as a Fighter, who uses a sword and shield. Initially I felt that the game felt like a slower version of Devil May Cry, with rhythmic button presses allowing for several different combos with the sword. In addition to this you can assign different skills to each hand, which use a fair amount of stamina and look incredibly cool. As you level up, you also level up in vocation ranks and gain access to more and more skills. You can change vocation at any time and vastly adjust your fighting style, I switched over to a hybrid vocation, which is a mixture of two base classes. In my case, I chose an Assassin, which is a hybrid between a Fighter and a Strider. This allowed me to gain access to a bow and daggers, while keeping a lot of my starting sword techniques. This kept the game fresh in the 50 or so hours I’ve spent with it over the past few weeks and is the strongest point of the game, as where many open world RPG’s fail is the ability to do combat “right”. This is something that Skyrim did wrong and in Dragon’s Dogma it felt absolutely fantastic.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this game is absolutely great, there are a wealth of quests to undertake and combat is incredibly satisfying and fun but the game falls apart at the coherence of its world. It simply feels soulless. With the vast amount of people that worked on the game, and Capcom’s announcement to push out a sequel to every successful franchise every two and a half years, I think that a Dragon’s Dogma’s sequel will be an excellent candidate to right all the wrongs within this game, such as the lack of co-op, and could truly make this game what it deserves to be. Dragon’s Dogma is an excellent game, but its shortfalls reduce a lot from the experience overall.

Dragon’s Dogma is out now for Xbox 360 and PS3

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