Dragon's Dogma - Review

RPG goes East in Dragon's Dogma on PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360

The Japanese Skyrim?

Dragon's Dogma is a high-fantasy role-playing game from Capcom, the developer and publisher of titles such as Monster Hunter and Street Fighter. Created by the combat designer of Devil May Cry 3, the game is pitched as a Japanese take on the western RPG genre.

At first glance it may come across as an amateurish approximation of beloved western RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Dragon Age, but upon closer inspection it reveals itself to be one of the freshest and most interesting titles in the genre in recent memory.

Dragon's Dogma is structured much like many other open-world RPGs; its open world setting of Gransys is filled with towns, cities, shops, dungeons, caves and forests to explore, and populated by non-playable characters happy to dole out quests for players to complete.

Death and danger abound in Dragon's Dogma at GAME

Dangerous Times

Perhaps the most exciting part of Dragon's Dogma is its prevailing sense of danger, something which has been lost in video games of late. Its world is absolutely huge and death lurks around every corner. The sense of danger intensifies at night, when it becomes impossible to see more than a few feet ahead of you without the aid of a lantern. If you're unlucky enough to wander off the beaten path you might find yourself faced with a pack of wolves, and in the early stages of the game when you're character isn't well developed this is likely to result in certain death.

The game opens with a dragon laying siege to Gransys. In addition to burning and scarring the province, the mythical beast brings with it a horde of monsters to help trash the lands. Playing as the Arisen - a title given to anyone whose hearts were stolen by a dragon, and survived - it's your job to slay all the demons and eventually the dragon.

Quests mainly revolve around fetching items for non-playable characters, escort missions and battling through dungeons. While this can become a little repetitive at times, the game's satisfying third-person combat has a realistic, weighty feel to it and helps keep things exciting throughout. You can opt to play the range game and attack from afar with a bow and arrow as a Strider, choose to get up close and personal as a Fighter, or adopt the Mage character class if you favour magic powered attacks.

Stider, Mage, Fighter - what class will you choose in Dragon's Dogma on PS3 and Xbox 360

Helping Hands

To complete your goals you're given access to an army of Pawns, computer controller teammates who can be hired as mercenaries to do battle alongside you. Two can be recruited at any one time to fit your specific needs, and as your character grows in strength you'll need to change up your roster of Pawns to ensure you're in the best shape for questing.

Pawns are incredibly useful as they offer lots of battle strategies and other valuable information. Play Dragon's Dogma with an online connection enabled and you can even recruit Pawns from other real people's games. If the player in question is at a more advanced stage of the adventure than you are, their Pawn may already have a good knowledge of areas, creatures and quests you've yet to encounter, making them more useful.

Dragon's Dogma is a quirky and challenging game. Suffering from a drab colour palette it's not the prettiest RPG, and it can also be punishingly difficult at times, but the core hacking and slashing combat alone makes it worth playing for fans of the genre, while the excellent Pawn system ensures it's something special.

GAME's Verdict

The Good:

  • Great Pawn system
  • Satisfyingly punchy combat
  • Exciting sense of danger

The Bad:

  • Drab colour palette
  • Can be punishingly difficult at times
  • Direct online co-op would have been nice
SKU: Reviews-170478
Release Date: 31/05/2012