Dragon’s Dogma REVIEW
One-eye didn't react well to tooth ache.
Release Date: 25 May
RRP: £49.99 * Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Also available on: PS3
The world of Dragon’s Dogma is heavily inspired by Western fantasy, but it’s a very Japanese game at heart. It has goblins, magic, wizards and crumbly old castles, but it also features cross-dressing, randy ogres, and the ability to pick people up and throw them down wells. It’s this mix of straight-laced fantasy and quirky insanity that makes it so compelling.
You play as the Arisen, a hero who is fated to banish a dragon and its evil minions from the peaceful, green land of Gransys. On your journey you’re joined by pawns – creatures who appear to be human, but are actually otherworldly servants who can be hired as mercenaries, and who follow you into battle without question.
The pawn system really sets the game apart from other RPGs. In these types of games you usually form a party from a selection of pre-made characters; here you get to choose from a limitless pool of randomly-generated heroes – or download ones created by other players, if your console is connected to the internet.
If you’re struggling with a quest (and you will – more on that later), you can download a pawn from a player who’s already completed it, and they’ll call out useful hints during battle. “I’ve faced this creature before!” they’ll scream. “Its weakness is fire!” It’s a really clever system, and an inventive use of online connectivity. You can still enjoy the game offline, though.
Although rife with fantasy cliches, the world is engaging, and often beautiful. You can wander freely, but this is often a bad idea. Straying too far into the wilderness will result in a swift death if your character isn’t a high enough level, which makes exploring incredibly tense. There’s no signposting or hand-holding at all, and the game’s frequently insanely difficult.
Quests are tough, and you never know whether you’re strong enough to beat them – often you only realise when it’s too late, and you’ve stumbled into a lair of giant lizards. The key is to take pawns who’ve completed the quests before. They’ll shout out help, and reveal secret doors.
But if you want to immerse yourself in a vast, sweeping fantasy adventure, Dragon’s Dogma is well worth playing. It doesn’t have the accessibility of something like Skyrim, so you’ll need a lot of time and patience to get the best out of it, but when you do, it’s incredibly rewarding. Finally toppling that boss that was bothering you, or venturing into a strange new land unscathed, gives you a genuine feeling of being on a grand adventure – as any great RPG should.
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