The first time I ever heard of Dragon's Dogma I was flipping through the pages of a gaming magazine and saw a preview for it. What I saw were four classic fantasy characters: a warrior type class, what looked like a thief or archer, and two mage classes. The screenshots I saw looked a bit on the generic side. But, being the absolute RPG fanatic that I am, I saved the name "Dragon's Dogma" in the back of my mind and knew that I'd have to keep my eye out for this game later on down the line. Up until this point I was a complete Skyrim fanatic. I've put over 300 hours into Skyrim.
Several months later, April 24th to be exact, I saw that the demo for Dragon's Dogma was live on PS3 and Xbox 360. I quickly grabbed my PS3 controller and started the download. To be honest I was very skeptical of what I was about to play. Recalling that screenshot, I didn't think this demo would be anything special at all. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The first thing I noticed when I zoned into the game as the fighter class was how tight the combat felt. When you swung that sword you could almost feel the weight of the blade, the heaviness of the shield. It was also a breath of fresh air to finally be playing an RPG where there was a FULL party again. Don't get me wrong, I adore my Skyrim but I really missed playing an RPG where you have a complete and full party by your side.
Dragon's Dogma releases and I pick up my copy. This game is a diamond that isn't perfect; it has some flaws, but it's still a gem and one not to be missed. The game is a Western fantasy RPG with Japanese elements. You can pick from three initial classes and later change classes (jobs) as much as you want given you have the points to spend.
What makes this game so great to me is that you can see the passion and heart the developers put into their work. The questing system is vast and there are quests that range from escort quests to bounty quests to the main story quests which I won't spoil here. The interface, the menus, even the sound effects of when you open the menu and the sounds of the different items gives this game so much charm. I love just opening and scrolling through my inventory.
Gransys, the world Dragon’s Dogma takes place in, is actually quite large. The map starts off with just a small town but as you quest and explore you see just how huge the world is. This brings up an important point: This game was made for those who just love to explore. There is no fast travel system here. There are no mounts, you literally have to walk to every part of the world you want to explore to. This is one of the game's major criticisms, but would a fast travel system really help? For some I suppose but personally I love exploring new lands and, as Captain Picard once said, "see what's out there."
The combat system is incredible and what makes this game simply shine. You pick from 4 basic attacks and can then assign up to 6 special attacks. There are tons of skills you can pick from and assign. It's up to you how you want to play.
The bosses in this game are absolutely insane. They are massive creatures that take true strategy and planning to take down. Finding their weak spots and exploiting them is vital to victory. Forming a good party is vital to get past the sometimes unforgiving fights in this game. If you slack with your party and your gear you will get owned.
Finally, the pawn system is probably the most unique "multiplayer" aspect I've seen put into a game in a long time. When you create your main character in Dragon’s Dogma you also create a main “pawn”. This character will stay at your side, fighting loyally in your name for the entire game. This pawn you created is now available in the games Rift system for recruitment to other people’s games. There are two additional party member slots and you can recruit other people's pawns to your party. It's a blast going into the Rift and checking out other pawns, reviewing their specs, their gear, their rating that other players gave them and when you are done with them having the option to send back a gift to the owner.
Does the game have some rough spots? Of course. The graphics aren't nearly as impressive as say, Skyrim's. Some of the world textures could have been processed at higher resolution. The lip synching of characters can sometimes be off, or completely not existent. The game offers no fast travel system; although to me this is something I personally don't mind. And yes, most of the main quests all originate in Gran Soren, the game's capital city, instead of spreading quests throughout the world and leading you across the world at large.
But, you have to trust me on this: If you can put aside these small flaws and just let yourself be immersed into this game you will get it. Frantic fights with my loyal pawns at my side taking out a horde of Goblins as their leader ordered attacks and a smaller Goblin blew its horn made out of a hollowed out tusk calling in for reinforcements -- It felt like something right out of Lord of the Rings. Exploring caves where zombies punch through the ground and come after me menacingly and hungry; Wandering in the woods when a massive rock Golem rips itself out of the very rocks I am on and an epic 20 minute battle ensues; Trudging through caves, knee deep in water when all of a sudden I'm jumped by a swarm of lizard like warriors which throw me into the water, put out my lantern, and I’m left fighting for my life in almost complete darkness.
This is Dragon's Dogma – an incredible game that is much more than a sum of its flaws.