First I must say the title is a shameless copy from the internet. From the list of ‘parents’ above I have only played Oblivion and Skyrim, and it didn’t work well out for us. Both games are surely fantastic but the thing I liked most was the world – it is huge, beautiful and feels lively, believable and realistic. I really didn’t like most of the character models, some of clunky animations and most of all their first person combat. Yeah, it feels cool until you just start swinging your sword through the air and realize that it actually hits stuff. In this article, I won’t write about all awful glitches, bugs, lags or freezes, which spoil my PS3 copy of Skyrim and will leave it for another time.
After this short excuse for my shameless copying of quotes, I suggest we go back to Dragon’s Dogma (DD). Recently I’ve just finished the game and started a New game +, so here is what I think.
This game truly rocks! It has its flaws and issues but taking is as a whole it’s one of the best RPGs of 2012.
The thumbs up go for the:
- Combat: it is fantastic – a fast action paced masterpiece. Character animations are fluid, hitting enemies feels realistic and battling huge monsters is frantic. Drakes, cyclops or chimeras are huge and powerful foes, who would take more than just sitting idle in front of their maw and swinging your weapon through the air until its life reaches zero. Doing so in DD will definitely lead to the screen, advising you to retry from the last save. Instead, you should climb on monster’s backs, slashing vital parts of their bodies or hit exposed parts. Ok, this starts to sound disturbing but in fact it feels epic.
- Music: just when the game loads you will encounter a strange song. I started to wonder if I accidently switched the TV to a Japanese music television. How wondered was I, when I found out it is actually the menu song – a Japanese pop-rock in English, which really doesn’t have anything to do with an epic fantasy adventure. I started to feel somehow played, but in truth after the third time I heard it, it started to grow on me. It is really catchy. But the thumb up is not for it, sorry – DD has a really nice and fitting soundtrack composed by Takayoshi Makino and Rei Kondoh. If you are into the soundtracks or epic scores as I am, you definitely should check this track out:
- In-game cinematics: wonderfully done with the main star your alter ego (the Arisen). They look fluid, they are beautiful, they play often on the main steps of quest progression and could be even jaw dropping.
- Voice over: I didn’t expect that DD will shine here, but it proved me wrong – nicely written lines, well fitting voices and… Gregori (for those who still haven’t played it, I won’t spoil who exactly he is) – there is an about 20 minutes monolog of him and the song above as background. A true epicness in its finest, trust me.
- Pawns: pawns are soulless henchmen, hired by the main hero in order to assist him in his adventures. Soon after you start a game and complete a bunch of quests you will be prompted to create your own pawn – visuals, behavior and class. Than, when you progress through the game, your pawn will level with you and you can teach him/her new vocations (specializations in the game), skills and equip him/her. You can have one own pawn and through the Rift (a place connecting pawns’ word and main hero’s own) you can summon up to two more. Interesting is, that if you play online, the other pawns are created by other gamers, they have different classes, gear and knowledge of the word and quests they have completed with their Arisen (the main hero) or Arisens like you, who have summoned them into their worlds. Summoned pawns do not level along with you, so sooner or later you will need to summon other higher level pawns – when you dismiss them, you can rate them and even give them gifts from your inventory, which they will bring back to their creator. Actually this is the only multiplayer feature of the game, although minimalistic, it is really well done. Only complaints are that pawns are always shouting one over the other “Harpies!”, “They fear fire, Arisen”, “They hunt in packs” so many times, that eventually can drive you mad. Beside it and their questionable AI, I must say the Pawn system is innovative and mostly well executed.
- Storyline: the bread and butter of the good RPGs and I must say, story was involving, interesting and engaging. Beside some too melodramatic and not logical scenes I enjoyed every bit of it.
- Day and night system: each at about 30 minutes long. Best executed nights I’ve seen in any game. It can actually shoot a fear into your heart. If you don’t have a lantern, as in real life, you won’t be able to see a thing. And to make it even worse, special monsters spawn on every corner – zombies, skeletons, phantoms and other scary monstrosities. It really matters what time of the day finds you out of the city and how prepared or precautious you are. As a friendly advise – have all this in mind, travel mainly in the day time and always bring your lantern and couple of oil flasks (to refill the lantern).
The thumbs down go for the:
- Gransis (the world): some reviewers are saying that it is huge. In fact, it is not. I cannot compare it to open word competitors like Skyrim’s or Red dead redemption’s New Austin, West Elizabeth, and Nuevo Paraiso zones. You have a city, a village and couple of points of interest. In between – mostly empty zones, in which you only find several roaming pawns and monsters, which spawn rapidly after they are killed on the very same place.
- Respawns: as stated above – monsters spawn on the very same places, soon after they are killed. After the first time you go through any place, you know exactly what to expect the next time around. And the time after, because of the…
- Backtracking: you’ve just walked by a point of interest and fought certain monsters. You take a quest and they send you somewhere, but heading to that place, you pass by that same point of interest or a simple hill. The very same bandits for example are there again, pawns are shouting the same lines and you start to find yourself in a limbo. And as you just hope that you won’t step there ever again, a board quest (side quest) sends you there again. And afterwards the main storyline quest and you really start to feel that Gransis is really small. As small as your patience right than.
- Unlogical consequences: a man just caught you with his wife, who seems to be really attracted by you and after being tortured you escape prison. Just in time to go talk to the very same man, who seems has amnesia issues. He can even great you and give you a quest or reward.
- Some awful characters: OK, it could be just me. I’ve never liked JRPGs and never have tried any (burn me, right?) but some look so over-melodramatic or brain hindered that I really couldn’t take more of them. Those seem to me really influenced by JRPGs. And duke’s jester… Like… for real? I really could not stand this little abomination!
I really don’t want to spoil anything from DD’s story. If you still haven’t you really should give it a chance. DD seems to me like it is a bit underrated game. It has its flaws but it stands its ground. On 23.04. in the USA and 26.04. in Europe for just €29.99/£19.99/$39.99 Capcom are releasing an expansion: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – retail and downloadable from PSN and XBOX Live.
Personally, I can’t wait. If you are playing it on PS3, feel free to look for Victanys – my pawn, currently a tank with my ex-gear from playing as warrior on my first playthrough (currently an assassin) or add me as a PS3 friend – Lukanka84 (in order to hire Victanys for free, if you are a lower level). Meet you in Gransis, fellow Arisens!
My final verdict for Dragon’s Dogma: 8 out of 10.
And some pictures of Valdren (my Arisen) and his pawn Victanys: