Dragon’s Dogma swoops in under the radar this year
Lost in a sea of killer app video game sequel releases, ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ proves to perhaps be one of the most underrated titles of the year and definitely worth a look if you missed it. Here’s a look back at a great game you can find at a bargain this holiday season.
I humbly concede to the fact that after Mass Effect 3 hit the shelves back in March, I was in complete ‘tunnel vision mode’ looking forward to when the bigger titles came out later this year for the holiday season. As I look back on the year however, probably one of the most impressive games that stealthily slipped under my radar was Capcom’s Action-RPG romp Dragon’s Dogma. In today’s economy where every cent of your gaming dollars matters, does Dragon’s Dogma warrant its full price of admission? This gamer thinks so.
Here’s the breakdown.
Dragon’s Dogma is an adventure of epic scale that takes place in the fictional kingdom of Gransys, and the peace and sovereignty of not only the kingdom but the entire world is threatened when a dragon descends upon the realm and sets off a new perilous era signifying the End Times, and that’s where you come in. You take control of a character you create and fully customize yourself who is tasked with defeating the dragon after it attacks your village, rips out your heart … and then it eats it. After magically surviving the ordeal and being anointed as the fabled “Arisen,” your adventure begins to save the word of Gransys and reclaim your stolen heart. Okay, I get it – Dragon’s Dogma’s story is not necessarily the strongest feature of the game, but it makes up for it with its depth in challenging gameplay — where this title tends to earn most of its merit.
Dragon’s Dogma plays as an open-world action-RPG that feels very reminiscent of games like Skyrim, Baldur’s Gate, Dark Souls and Capcom’s very own Monster Hunter series. The game features a persistent world with over two-hundred non-player characters (NPCs), each with their set schedules of activities whom also speak in full voice when they interact with you. Graphically, the game delivers with impressive visuals in both the environments and character models, especially in those of the monsters you face. My only gripe was that most of Gransys is of a temperate forest nature with some bogs and streams thrown in here and there. A game this beautiful looking and this fun to explore could have benefited by having a better variety in environmental locations such as deserts or jungles.
One of the major draws in Dragon’s Dogma is the opportunity to wage epic battles against larger than life monsters and adversaries such as Hydras, Ogres, Gryphons, Cyclopses and, of course, Dragons. There’s even a climbing mechanism built into the game’s fighting system where you can scale these large beasts and attack them. Nothing is more thrilling than leaping onto a Gryphon’s back as it tries to flee during the heat of battle and it carries you up into the skies along with it while delivering the killing blow. While on the topic of fighting these colossal beasts, Dragon’s Dogma offers a variety of class-based play styles to use for your character ranging from fighter classes, to ranged archer classes, and the magic-wielding classes. In addition to the three main classes there are different variations and even hybrid classes available for you to utilize to suit your play style.
Another interesting mechanism implemented into the game is the “Pawn” system. Early in your adventure you get to create your primary companion, also known as a “pawn,” that fights alongside you. You can then recruit up to two more pawns to round out your party, and trust me, you’ll need all the help you can get as this game can be very difficult at times — especially during the night when a new set of even tougher enemies appear. What’s cool about the pawn system is that if your game is connected online you can recruit other player created pawns to help you out in battle. Need a sorcerer to help you take down that Griffon? You can hire the pawn created by your best friend or even a family member. Want to help out a buddy by giving him weapons and equipment? Deck out his pawn so he could bring it back into his game the next time he logs in.
While the pawn sharing system is very akin to “pimping” and a unique aspect of the game and traveling around the vast kingdom of Gransys is fun with your party in tow, what really hurts this game is the lack of an outright multiplayer component. After slaying dragons and other monsters online with the help of other human players in Capcom’s feverishly addictive Monster Hunter series, I felt a little let down with this title in that regard as it made too much sense for this game not to have it. Another of Dragon’s Dogma’s follies is its cumbersome menu and inventory system. It’s just a mess when it boils down to it. However, when you get accustomed to the game it is a part of the title that you can easily look past.
Ultimately, Dragon’s Dogma is a fun hack-n-slashing adventure title that I thoroughly enjoyed and had a lot of fun getting lost in. If you’re a fan of the action-RPG genre and tend to lean towards game franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Baldur’s Gate, Dark Souls or Monster Hunter, then this is definitely a game worth checking out. What Dragon’s Dogma lacks in heart it makes up for in its soul — a brilliant concept is there. With some simple polish that addresses the issues I noted, Capcom may have a new top-dollar franchise to fall back on.
Capcom has already confirmed a follow-up to Dragon’s Dogma, and while I’m sure I will definitely give the game a play-through, I’m hoping that along with added multiplayer that the menu and inventory section is overhauled. These changes to the game will easily make it an absolute favorite and I will be here to tell you all about it.
VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10