Dragon's Dogma (Video Game)
Developed & Distributed by Capcom
Rated M for Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes & Violence
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed) & PlayStation 3
It would've been easy to overlook Dragon's Dogma after it was announced last year. Sure, Capcom has released a few stellar action RPGs over the years with the Monster Hunter series, but this was a brand new game with its own mythology from a company that hasn't exactly been completely winning their fans over with their recent releases and business decisions. Still, Dragon's Dogma began looking more impressive every time a new video or a new press release for the game was revealed. Soon, this game went from just a game to purchase simply to get your code for early access to the Resident Evil 6 to what appeared to be another great console RPG from a company that could definitely pull it off.
Dragon's Dogma allows you to create your very own character, who is from a little fishing town known as Cassardis in the realm of Gransys. Your character fool heartedly attempts to slay the beast and save the village, but you end up having your heart ripped through your chest and devoured by the dragon instead. Miraculously, you survive the ordeal and are reborn as the Arisen--a chosen warrior whose destiny is to slay the cursed beast that attempted to kill the special fighter. As the Arisen, you are able to call forth many allies to fight along with you including one special pawn that will be by your side the entire journey. It will be up to you and your companions to slay the evil dragon and return peace to the land before the powerful monster destroys Gransys and everyone in it. The storyline runs around 30-40 hours worth of pretty entertaining missions and dialogue where you'll rarely find yourself bored.
Where Dragon's Dogma produces a good narrative, it manages to produce one of the best action RPG experiences ever as well. Combat relies heavily on stringing together series of light and heavy attacks as in any traditional RPG, but many of the creatures in the game are massive. To combat these larger foes, you'll actually grapple onto and climb up enemies to target specific body parts. This adds strategic elements to combat that most other games have never considered, and more importantly, it's a ton of fun to climb around on these mammoth-sized enemies to find a weakness and cut them down to size. Of course, you'll encounter more casual, modest-sized enemies throughout your journey like goblins and harpies too. You play as one of three classes: Fighter, Mage or Ranger, and while you can create hybrid classes later in the game, you may only want to go in for these close range attacks if you're playing as a fighter, but it's your call.
Like any other RPG, customizing and leveling your character is the key to winning any battle, and this extends to your entire party in Dragon's Dogma. After creating your character and your trusty sidekick, you will be allowed to bring along two more pawns that can either be attained through riftstones located throughout the game that give pre-rendered characters, or you can take the game online to use other players pawns. Sharing your own pawns and borrowing others' is one more unique addition that makes this game great. Of course, you can fully outfit and customize pawns just as you did with your own character.
From a presentation standpoint, Dragon's Dogma really shines. While the character models aren't the most appealing you'll find, the smooth animations go a long way in making up for what the models lack. You'd be hard pressed to find an environment that looks better than the world of Gransys though, and enemy models look even more impressive. Fighting is the game's selling point, and the precise, responsive controls are a big reason why combat never seems to get old even after roughly 40 hours of gameplay. It also helps that your pawn companions are outfitted with some pretty intelligent AI that are constantly thinking on their toes to ensure that your party comes out of each conflict a winner. Sound design is acceptable here; sub par voice acting benefits greatly from timely sound effects and an immersive soundtrack.
For each problem you find in Dragon's Dogma, the game finds tons of other ways to more than make up those shortcomings. The game presents a great storyline and incredibly addictive combat that keeps you amazed throughout 30+ hours of missions. Dragon's Dogma is the best RPG of the year, and that statement should hold up over the remainder of 2012. Although it may not be as highly regarded by others, Dragon's Dogma should be synonymous with the greats such as Dragon Age and even The Elder Scrolls. Dragon's Dogma was well worth the wait and should be added to your gaming collection immediately.
For more information on the game, check out the official Dragon's Dogma website.
4 1/2 out of 5