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Dragon’s Dogma Review
It doesn’t take long for you to realise that Dragon’s Dogma is a different game to what you’re used to. Coming with all the facets you would expect of a fantasy game it seems at first to be very much a standard RPG yet as a Japanese game attempting to meet the standards set by it’s Western counterparts while adding a few ideas of it’s own leads to a game that’s not easily comparable to other titles even within the genre.
The story’s level of strangeness can be summed up by the fact that about five minutes in your heart is ripped out of your chest and eaten by a dragon. You might think that that would stop you but no, you pick yourself up and set out to get your heart back.
Dragon’s Dogma has been compared to many titles, Skyrim and Monster Hunter for instance, but the comparisons are unfair. It is very much it’s own game. With the looks of a game that could be several years old you won’t find a feast for the eyes here. Lacking the technical prowess or stylistic flourish necessary to stand out from the crowd Dragon’s Dogma is decidedly average in the visuals department.
Of course, graphics aren’t everything and shouldn’t really put you off. What might however, is the nature of the relationship you’ll develop with the game: that is to say, at times it will a game that utterly infuriates you. Dragon’s Dogma is stubborn beast that does things a certain way and as much as you may come to dislike it you will be drawn back in. It’s something of a love hate relationship in other words.
With your character newly heartless in the literal sense you are reborn as The Arisen and naturally you are tasked with saving the world. Defeating the dragon that swallowed your heart will free Gransys, the land where the game is set, from the threat it poses. But you don’t do it alone; as the Arisen you have power over pawns, humanoid creatures that exist in The Rift and can be summoned to your aid throughout your adventure.
At the most you can have three pawns, one of whom is permanent. You have power over how this pawn looks, his or her name and you can up-skill and equip this pawn however you see fit as it increases in level. As for the other pawns they can be someone else’s, hired with Rift points, potentially allowing you to recruit a pawn significantly above your own level. Unlike your main pain these accomplices can be dismissed at any time.
Your pawns are an important part of the game. Apart from their obvious role in combat (including AI controlled looting) pawns offer mission and region information. Yet even so the pawns have a limited number of lines and before too long you’ll actually be wishing for someone to say “but then I took an arrow to the knee”; yes, they repeat themselves even more than Skyrim’s guards.
Intended to make your pawns seem aware of their surroundings the effect is utterly ruined by the frequency with which they delight themselves with the same observations over and over again. You will, for instance, be told time and again that goblins are vulnerable to fire should one of your pawns be a mage. While your pawns will also comment over and over on the same tree or the same route through the landscape you’ve walked on a dozen occasions.
Sadly that isn’t extent of the problems you’ll experience dealing with pawns. They have an alarming tendency to ignore your orders and while there are options for you to determine some of their behaviours you simply lack the control offered by a game like Dragon Age: Origins.
Though the story is rather mediocre – something which is reflected by the trophies/achievements being more for exploration and discovery than quest progression – you won’t necessarily mind playing more than once for that precious Platinum or 1000G. The reason for this again is that as frustrating an experience as Dragon’s Dogma can be it is also an addictive one.
The giants beasts of DD feel so much more alive than Skyrim’s dragons with far broader range of attacks offering up incredibly exciting battles. While even the most mundane enemies – and yes there are bandits and skeletons – offer a challenge requiring an unexpected amount of teamwork it is the bigger foes you face that will be the most fun and the most rewarding to take down.
One of the most notable engagements is a major boss battle towards the end of the game. This boss battle is in many ways one of the better, if not one of the best, of its’ kind in recent memory. Though it seems to last an age the fact is you will never tire of it as the game frequently finds new ways to mix things up.
Overall the story of Dragon’s Dogma is almost laughable at times, the pawns are useful even if they don’t always do as they’re told while the graphics are deplorable and yet, for all that, the game is something unexpected and very playable, even replayable, despite it’s shortcomings. Capcom took a lot of chances with this one, some of them worked, some of them did not but Dragon’s Dogma stands out from its’ peers and is well worth a look.