Dragon’s Dogma Review: Capcom’s Ambitious Attempt at Fantasy Roleplaying
Dragon’s: Dogma: Capcom’s Ambitious Attempt at Fantasy Roleplaying
Dragon’s Dogma is an action role-playing game some may find “aught” of use. In Capcom’s first ever take on this genre; they’ve employed the talents of masterminds behind titles like Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 4 to front the game’s development. Through Dragon’s Dogma’s gameplay and overall looks; you can see Director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi had their creative hands all over this. Dragon’s Dogma is an open world fantasy game which features hacking, slashing, and a bit of survival horror. (Version reviewed on Xbox 360)
Dragon’s Dogma: Tales and Quests
Dragon’s Dogma takes place in the fantasy land of Gransys; a world, I’m assuming, that is not Earth, but a place in a mid-evil era where dragons are no myth, and all roads lead to Gran Soren. The main plot to Dragon’s Dogma is about the return of a powerful (and gigantic) red dragon that upon arrival, lays waste to the main character’s village of Cassardis. Being the brave and ignorant hero you are; the protagonist attempts to fight the dragon with a rusty sword only to get their heart ripped out and eaten by the beast in front of their very eyes. From what I understand, by the dragon eating the player’s heart, they have been chosen (by the dragon?) to be the one destined to kill the dragon. Instead of the player dying, like a normal person, he magically survives and is now known as the “Arisen”, whose goal is to slay the dragon and retrieve their own heart.
Now, if you’re reading this; you’ve undoubtedly heard by now that the storyline isn’t too interesting and the quests are somewhat uninspired. If you haven’t, you have now. The way I look at it: this is Capcom’s first fantasy RPG, and it could’ve been far, far worse. Aside from the main storyline, which takes you through goblin castle raids and fighting exploding zombies underground; most quests are your basic fetch and escort missions. Though, I’m the type of gamer that cares about gameplay above all else and I tend not to pay attention to storylines, even in games that have really good ones, and the gameplay is what makes Dragon’s Dogma shine.
The Dogmatic Gameplay
Dragon’s Dogma borrows many elements from similar games, yet manages to make it a unique and fun experience of its own. In most RPGs I would usually accept a quest and run to the destination as fast as I can, ignoring any random events along the way, however, in Dragon’s Dogma, I’m all about the journey, eager to fight anything that crosses my path. The combat system is easy to grasp and surprisingly deep, giving you the option to map out three special abilities for each weapon arm to your liking. Also the ability to change your vocation and not be tied down by a certain class keeps the combat fresh and entertaining. The ability to grab and throw enemies at teammates, for them to cinematically finish off, and even climb on bigger enemies, opens up a whole new level of creative killing. When you start Dragon’s Dogma, you first choose to be a fighter, mage, or strider; soon after your entrance into the game you reach the city Gran Soren, which becomes your base of operations. At this time you can change your vocation to either three upgraded versions of the first three (warrior, sorcerer, ranger) or three hybrid classes (mystic knight, assassin, magic archer); all of which have an array of special abilities you can unlock while leveling up in that vocation. I’ve tried out a number of different vocations, assassin being my current one, and magic archer being my favorite. I won’t go too fat into detail with the different abilities because experimenting with them, and finding the one that fits your style of play is half the fun.
The Rift and You: A Dragon Related Tale
While Dragon’s Dogma is a single player game; your character isn’t fighting through this journey alone. Capcom has created a fairly clever system for recruiting party members called Pawns. Pawns are sell swords, or mercenaries whose sole purpose is to serve the Arisen. Pawns are apparently not like real humans and are summoned by the player from a mystical place called the Rift. The Pawns have good A.I. and can assist in turning the tide of battle. The player can have only three pawns at a time, one they’ve created themselves, who is a permanent companion, and two others; they can trade out the latter two throughout the game for those created and used by other players across the internet. Capcom encourages players to share their Pawn with others implementing a fancy photo sharing feature which uploads directly to Facebook for all your friends and stalkers to see. Along with the photo you take it also includes your Pawn’s name, level, vocation, and skills.
The Little Details and the Big Ass Monsters
Dragon’s Dogma bares similarities to all kinds of different games; some battles throw so many enemies at you it almost feels like Dynasty Warriors; and boss battles can feel like Shadow of the Colossus while climbing upon them towards their weak spot. Dragon’s Dogma is an eastern game that has a very western feel to it. While it operates on the surface as a visceral hack and slash game, the enemy difficulty can be as unforgiving as Dark Souls. Dragon’s Dogma not only lets you grab onto enemies, but also teammates, townsfolk, ledges, rooftops, certain edges of ground, and random pots and rocks. The inventory system makes encumbrance even more important; as the weight of your character’s inventory directly affects their speed, jump height, and use of stamina. Stamina is just as important as health because it is your gauge for sprinting, special attacks, and casting spells. Dragon’s Dogma has many items you can use to improve weapons and equipment or combine to create other items; and some that are of no real use at all (But your pawns will gather them anyways). The animations of people and creatures are usually fine but there are occasional glitches like shop owners not showing up on screen right away or a griffon flying sideways; but these are minor problems that don’t affect the gameplay in any large way.
Dragon’s Dogma is a very fun game; one I’ve played for hours and will play for many more in the future. This game is a unique gem that I fear will fall under the radar for the majority of the gaming community. Yes, Dragon’s Dogma has some flaws and the story could’ve been better, but no game is perfect. Games receive perfect scores simply because they cater to the needs of a vast audience; and through the experience I’ve had with Dragon’s Dogma, there is a lot about it I liked. They’re masterworks all, you can’t go wrong.