Review – Dragon’s Dogma
I kick arse for the Lord.
What’s this? A non-sequel game? Is such a thing possible in this day and age? What? It’s a Japanese-made Western RPG? It’s very good? Preposterous.
Dragon’s Dogma is a strange beast indeed. Capcom’s take on an Elder Scrolls game, but it is very obviously Japanese. You start by creating a character and then shortly after it starts you pick a weapon which will determine your class. So far so RPG. Playing as that class levels up your proficiency within that class and allows you to purchase new skills and abilities. Your character also levels up independently of your class. However, once you reach the main city in the game you can change your class to whatever you want. Mastered archery? Why not try being a mage? Unless there’s some overlap in skills you’ll effectively be starting from scratch, but that’s okay because Dragon’s Dogma is a team game so you always have back up.
You can roll with up to three other characters (known as pawns), one of which you create yourself and will always be with you. You have as much control over their appearance and skills as you do your own, but the AI controls them in battle. What makes this game truly amazing however is that the other two characters you role with you pick from an online database of other player’s pawns. If they’re the same level as you they are free to pick and choose from, where as if you try to pick someone more powerful they cost rift crystals, which you gain from your pawn helping other players. You’ll want to pick someone who compliments your character and your pawn and you have to chop and change them quite often as they don’t level up with you. It is an awesome system and has this weird affect on how you play the game. I always gave my main pawn, Illest-yo, the best gear as opposed to my main character because you want other players to find them and use them in their game. Combine that with them always being with you and constantly chatting (for better or worse) and you grow very fond of your pawn, which is pretty incredible for someone with no backstory and only a basic personality.
The combat system is also very strong, with weak and strong attacks and special abilities which can be accessed by pressing LB or RB along with a face button. Battles play out like a third person hack and slash rather than your typical RPG, with you having full control over your character’s attacks and movement. Which is good because you’ll be fighting a lot. Although initially the world map looks very large as you uncover it you’ll notice it’s not really, not compared to its inspiration. You’ll be backtracking across a lot of the same areas often and battling the same creatures again and again, so it’s a good job it’s enjoyable. The creatures you face vary from wolves and harpies to much larger creatures like cyclops and drakes which you can climb upon Shadow of the Colossus style to reach a weak spot.
Most quests involve finding items or killing creatures and the majority of the support cast are very weak but it didn’t matter to me. The combat system, the levelling and the development of my pawn kept me playing this for hundreds of hours and the art is lovely. Capcom have already confirmed that they’re working on a sequel, and there are plenty of areas to improve upon, but this is a very strong first attempt and my personal game of the year so far.