I am what you might call a casual fan of role-playing games.
I have dabbled in World of Warcraft, taken a quick
look at Skyrim and spent plenty of hours in the
For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Four and a half stars (out of five)
Often, when a new RPG comes along, it is either too deep or
too shallow, too predictable or too stupidly difficult, to
keep me on board for longer than a few hours.
Dragon's Dogma ticks none of those boxes. Typically,
for a Japanese-developed RPG, it arrived in this part of the
world with very little fanfare, but it is a welcome,
surprising addition to the genre.
It's a fresh, highly ambitious open-world fantasy set in a
mediaeval-ish kingdom called Gransys.
You begin the game with an intense battle with a dragon, a
battle which has a shocking conclusion and sets the scene for
your future as an "Arisen" and the long quest ahead.
What follows is a familiar weave of main story and side
quests, though with enough tweaks to avoid the feeling of
The makers of Dragon's Dogma included those who worked
on Capcom's Devil May Cry series, and the influence in
the area of combat is noticeable.
Fighting is a delicious mix of strategy and hack-and-slash.
The controls are simple but challenging enough to make it
In a nod to the great PS2 game, Shadow of the
Colossus, large enemies can be scaled. It really is a
terrific thrill, in the middle of a battle with a troll or a
mythical creature of some sort, to grab on to its
scales/fur/horns and leap up, sword in hand, to search for
the beast's weak spot.
The other major feature of the game is the presence of
"pawns", outwardly-human brethren who are completely under
They help in battle, give tips during quests and generally
make navigating the huge world a whole lot easier. One main
pawn accompanies you, and two others can be recruited, and
all three are levelled up alongside you.
In the absence of a multiplayer mode, it is possible to go
online and recruit other gamers' pawns.
While the game has come from Japan, it looks nothing like
a traditional Japanese RPG. The setting is more Game of
than anime. In fact, the graphics are marvellously
lush, at the very top end of what the consoles (I have the PS3
version) are capable.
Every RPG needs an inventory system and a broad level of
major and minor quests.
The game's inventory system offers little that has not been
seen before but it is clean and accessible, and that is all
you can ask.
The quests are varied and well spaced. Again, I am not sure
any RPG has offered much better.
There is also a nice mix of action across daytime and night
When the sun goes down, the game morphs from traditional RPG
into survival horror, with some interesting results.
Dragon's Dogma might be viewed as just another RPG.
But take a deeper look, and it becomes clear it is at least
in the top bracket of its kind.