Posted on May 28, 2012 AT 10:27pm
Capcom has launched full force into the action-RPG genre and taken it by force with the fantasy-themed Dragon’s Dogma. The game is ambitious, expansive and full of peril, with great beast such as orges, chimera and dragons around nearly every corner. Set in a medieval landscape, Dragon’s Dogma takes players on an epic journey full of battle and adventure.
The game starts off with the player’s avatar waking to a dragon attack as it ravages the fishing village that was once called home. As the dragon appears, the protagonist goes at the massive beast with a rusty sword (hint: this doesn’t end well). After the ensuing battle with results in even more destruction, the dragon, speaking an ancient tongue (that conveniently has English subtitles), tears out they player’s heart and replaces it with a mystical energy, transforming them into the legendary Arisen, a person of incredible importance, capable of taking on the mightiest of dragons.
The game relies heavily on that aspect, as there is little in the way of storytelling from there. After leaving home and setting upon the journey, quests (ranging from the basic fetch quests to the even more basic “kill stuff”, with a few more important quests thrown in to spice things up) take over the majority of the plot, forcing the player to basically wander from quest to quest in search of something that can truly move the plot forward.
On the plus side, the area that is wandered through is gorgeous. Every detail is included, from shrubbery to the variance on rock formations, with vast expanses as far as the eye can see. Running aimlessly through the woods isn’t so bad when those woods are pretty.
Actually, it wouldn’t be so bad, if it weren’t for the nearly endless stream of random enemies that litter even the safest of paths. Sticking to the road is a safe bet in this game, as enemies are less frequent, however, that doesn’t stop the random cyclops from standing directly in the main path, with no option but to take it down. Which is all well and good, if it wasn’t for that fact that without the correct party and amount of curatives, the battle is more than likely not going to end in the player’s favor.
Dying is much too frequent for a game that sends players on incredibly long quests miles away from the starting point, with little in the way of fast traveling. This gets even more difficult at night, where the danger multiplies tremendously. This is a great concept, as fearing the night has rarely actually been a concern in gaming, but knowing that the sun is the difference between a serene road to one littered with goblins is something that makes a major difference.
Controls are a bit difficult to get used to, but with several different combinations, this can be easily dealt with. The game also has an interesting aiming system, which, when using projectiles (especially with magic), can go from an auto-aim to a manual aim with the click of a button.
The battle system is one of the finest points of the game, though. With various classes to choose from (that can also be upgraded to hybrid classes such as the mystic knight, a mage who can wield a sword and shield to a ranger class that features longbows and daggers), the game does really well when it comes to battle, and keeping that battle fresh. With the abilities to change vocations at will, as well as upgrade abilities frequently, using an in-game skill currency to adapt to new, stronger enemies gained by leveling, this is the point where the game really shines. Strikes are fluid, battles are fierce, and stronger enemies are an incredible challenge.
These battles are often defined not by skill, however, but by companionship. The use of the incredibly well-done pawn system is often the difference between dying and having to go back to the last save (which is often frustrating, as there is no ability to save during a battles, which come frequently and often out of nowhere) or having a thrilling victory. At the beginning of the game, players can design their “main pawn”, a character that will stay the length of the game, leveling as the player does. These pawns can be accentuated by “support pawns”. These pawns spawn in-game, but the best portion of this system is when there is an Internet connection. By accessing “riftstones”, players can enter a mystical zone where the main pawns of other players are available to hire. These pawns can be switched out at will, giving the creators new information and gifts as their pawn returns. This is a very unique aspect to the game, and one that, if utilized properly, can be enjoyed immensely.
In terms of sound, the music is nothing to stand up and clap for. The theme song is excellent, with a melodic start that turns into a guitar-heavy rock song, but after that, the music is basically designed to be ignored. The voice acting is also surprisingly poor, given the detail put into other points of the game. Vocabulary is turned into a poor version of Shakespearean English, with a far too often use of words such as “aught”, “alight” and phrases that aren’t much better. Pawns scream out ridiculous nonsense that is only occasionally helpful, doing more to annoy than to aid. They also die a lot, forcing you to come to their aid and rescue them frequently, as they’re not always the brightest beings in the realm.
Overall, despite some silly, unnecessary flaws, this game has one major perk: it’s fun. Very fun. Hours can be spent roaming Gransys without getting too bored. As far as action-RPG’s go, this one is in the upper-tier thanks to a terrific battle system and some unique innovations.
- The Good: Terrific battle system, gorgeous landscape, and innovative pawn system.
- The Bad: Sub-par voice acting and music, lack of story.
- The Ugly: Death comes too often and saving is a hassle.
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