by Nataniel Hohl, reviewed on
Breaking The Mold
Mentioning the name ‘Capcom’, the mind of many a gamer would probably conjure images of shooting zombies in a mansion or slicing up demons as a brash, white-haired, sword-for-hire. I doubt many would think of a rich fantasy setting complete with dragons, magic, and a vast open world to explore but that’s exactly what Capcom has delivered with their fantasy epic Dragon’s Dogma. So how does this strangely out of place title fare against big name RPGs such as Skyrim or Kingdoms of Amalur?
Dragon’s Dogma is a bit of a deviation from the standard Capcom formula but keen-eyed gamers will notice that despite its unique premise, the game still shows influences of Capcom’s other popular franchises. Small surprise considering that many of the people that worked on Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 4 also worked on crafting Dragon’s Dogma.
New Model, Same Parts
The plot isn’t terribly complicated; your character miraculously survives having his heart ripped out and eaten by a dragon. You are revealed to be an ‘Arises’ and part of a long line of heroes destined to find and slay the dragon that ‘marked’ them. You must journey across the world of Gransys, completing quests and growing in strength until your fated confrontation with the dragon. The plot does not compare to Lord of the Rings, but there is a fairly compelling story-hook, especially as far as Capcom games go.
The combat uses a standard hack-and-slash premise which is very fast-paced and cinematic. You will often find yourself pitted against creatures that would be considered rare bosses in most other games. You might just be wandering out in the forest and then suddenly get attacked by a giant gryphon, cyclops or manticore. These events aren’t scripted; they can happen randomly at any given time. You can fight these creatures from the ground, but it’s much more fun to grab and climb onto them - a la Shadow of the Colossus - and target weak-spots such as the gryphon’s wings or the cyclops’ eye.
Three Paths, Limitless Decisions
Unlike Skyrim’s and Reckoning’s freeform progression systems, Dragon’s Dogma has a narrower focus in terms shaping your character. At the start, players can choose one of three “vocations”. The fighter is a pretty standard sword-and-shield wielding melee expert, the mage is a ranged spellcaster who can also use his staff for close-quarters fighting and the strider offers a mix of close-range dagger and long-range bow combat. Each vocation has its own signature skills, weapon and armor proficiencies along with a number of passive bonuses called augments.
Choosing a vocation at the outset doesn’t mean that there is no room for experimentation. Each vocation has two advanced vocations which can be unlocked down the road, bringing the total number of vocations up to nine. Garnering xp from combat and quests and leveling up gives the player ‘discipline points’ which can be spent unlocking new skills, augments, or even entirely new vocations to try. Since each vocation has its own unique set of proficiencies and skills, experimenting to find just the right vocation for you is encouraged.
An immersive and engaging experience featuring addicting cinematic combat.
A rough difficulty and confusing story might turn off more seasoned fans of the genre.