The Engima That Is Dragons Dogma
Dragon’s Dogma has prompted the strangest range of reviews in quite some time. From near perfect scores to full on condemnations, Dragon’s Dogma is a strange beast. The last time a game divided opinions in such a manner (at least the last game I recall) was 2009s Deadly Premonition. Marred by low production values and some rigid controls, Deadly Premonition was in actual fact a deep and clever little game. Fast forward to 2012 and Deadly Premonition has developed a cult hit status. Dragon’s Dogma seems destined to go the same way.
Going into Dragon’s Dogma I wasn’t sure what to expect given Capcom’s games of late. There wasn’t a great deal of hype built around the game prior to its release (a great move by Capcom in my opinion) so with only a small amount of expectation, I jumped in head first. The plot is nothing short of odd. Dragons ripping out your heart, kingdoms under threat by monsters and a whole load of nonsensical dialogue. The combat is pretty solid and satisfying allowing for the dull track and kill quests to feel a bit more endearing. There’s a nice sense of depth throughout the game allowing for play sessions to roll on hour upon hour.
Dragon’s Dogma isn’t a flawless game by any stretch of the imagination. The plot isn’t really hugely interesting and some of the quests tend to be a little flat. The visuals aren’t going to blow you away and the limited fast travel may make you blow up with rage. It’s a flawed game (not nearly as flawed as some of reviewers will have you believe though) but the good outweighs the bad. The pawn system is a fantastic feature that provides a neat, clever edge to the game. Pawns also adds a nice sense of community and interaction between Dragon’s Dogma player base. Exchanging pawns with friends really does add a nice touch to the game.
More often than not Dragon’s Dogma has been compared to the mega hit Skyrim. More often than not, Skyrim is seen as the far superior title for various reasons. Its world may be more fleshed out, and the game may be more polished, truth be told I’ve personally had more fun in 20 hours of Dragon’s Dogma than I’ve had in 80+ hours of Skyrim. While Skyrim has all the polish (well, bar the bugs) and sparkles I just cant help but find Dragon’s Dogma more…charming?
There’s a nice feeling to Dragon’s Dogma which makes up for the flaws I ran into. The world is about as bog-standard, fantasy themed as you can get, yet there’s neat little touches everywhere. Setting out with the intention to do quests is something I always tried to do, however I often found myself simply exploring and bumping into wandering pawns. The lands of Dragon’s Dogma tend to feel threatening, which adds a strange sense of excitement to a simple stroll. Not knowing what is lurking in the woods is quite intimidating when in the shoes of a low level Ranger.
My experiences with Skyrim were enjoyable, the world is great to explore. My gripe was I never really got the feeling I was weak when coming up against large enemies. My warrior became slightly too powerful early on, which resulted in my journeys losing a little bit of their sparkle. Taking on larger enemies never really felt right. Hacking away at a Dragons ankles always felt slightly underwhelming given the buildup to each battle. It may have been a small issue, but it truly didn’t enhance my enjoyment of exploration. Dragon’s Dogma however, managed to pull off large enemy encounters fantastically well.
Grabbing onto enemies and climbing to reach their weak points created a sense of scale and allowed each battle to feel epic. Watching a Cyclops emerge from the trees club in hand is one of my personal highlights of this generation. The way in which the Cyclops recklessly swiped at my party was such an amazing thing to behold. His (I assumed it was a male) attempts to pick up my party members to crush them resulted in me believing my pawns lives were at stake. The real fun came when me and my three pawns pounced onto the Cyclops and began to frantically stab him in various places. It’s an assuming, but great, sight to behold. Watching the Cyclops fall to the ground in defeat felt far more satisfying than in most recent games I have played.
Cyclops aside, Dragon’s Dogma has a host of enemies which can knock you off your feet…literally. Griffins,Dragons and even the humble Harpy can take the battles up into the dizzy heights of the sky above. Grabbing onto enemies is a viable tactic when it comes to taking down the larger creatures of Dragon’s Dogma, but it does carry a risk to it; a potentially hilarious risk. Taking on a Griffin was a mix of challenge, excitement and comedy…and plenty of death. Attracting the creature to land on the ground is tricky so when it happens its really time to lay into the feathered git as much as possible. My lack of experience of fighting flying foes led me to grabbing onto the creature (my pawns followed me lead and joined me in mounting the monster) and unleashing a flurry of attacks. Things went well until it decided to lift off and ascend into the sky.
Going further and further into the clouds above I began to question if my tactic was working or was about to result in my whole party falling to their death. After a revaluation I decided that this was only going to end in death and laughs. It’s a jarring sight to see four people attached to a creature miles in the air. After a good five minutes of clambering and stabbing, things went pear shaped and the pawns began to fall. As distressing as it is to see my pawn (and the pawn of my buddy on Xbox live) fall to their death it was never the less hilarious. The best thing about this was the fact that the Griffon isn’t even a full-on boss battle. Dragon’s Dogma and its creature encounters truly allow the game to forge some great memories and experiences inside a video game.
Dragon’s Dogma is indeed a flawed game but is certainly some of the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long time. Skyrim may have been a epic game, but for me it didn’t have epic moments. At the end of the day this is all subjective (in the same way reviews are) but I urge anyone who enjoys deep, rewarding games to give Dragon’s Dogma a play. This could be this years cult hit.