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Dragon's Dogma Review

Dragon's Dogma Review

There hasn't been any shortage of open world fantasty games as of late, which is both fantastic and at the same time a little worrisome. How easy is it to tell the good ones from the bad, and what's to prevent copycat games from flooding the market in hopes of making a quick cash grab? More importantly, where does Dragons Dogma stand in all of this? An Action RPG hybrid that's one part Monster Hunter, one part Skyrim and one part Demons Souls. In other words, it's Capcom's attempt to boldly go where most North American developers have been firmly defining for the past decade or so. In a few ways, it succeeds.

Unlike most fantasy Action RPGs Dragon's Dogma is less focused on storytelling, and more on random monster killing. It's something that may not seem too apparent at first but becomes incredibly clear as you engage in the first hour.

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the game you're given a quick tutorial as an unnamed knight with a full loadout of abilities to test. Movement and character aiming are standard fare, while jumping, running, basic attack combos and item/NPC interaction are all handled via the primary action buttons. Selecting R1 or L1 will open up secondary menus that provide players with their primary/offhand special attacks, while the R2 button will enable characters to grab onto larger foes and climb. All of these actions consume stamina, which recovers as the player performs basic attacks or stands still, which means that monster fighting requires a good balance of learning when to attack and when to take a break or use a recovery item for maximum damage.

That's when it becomes apparent Dragon's Dogma is a game that's more focused on trophy hunting that unravelling a grand mystery or exploring the rich lore of an unknown world. Once you get past the character creation screen there's almost no real direction as to what you should do. Exploring the town is the first obvious choice, and there are the starter quests that familiarize the player with the locals, but there's no real energy being delivered by any of the supporting characters. The real fun to be had isn't about questing, but simply exploring and picking fights with the hostile natives.

If you're the type of gamer that absolutely hates wandering off the beaten path, getting ambushed by goblins or bandits, encountering a giant that may end your life in a single swing, then this is not the game for you. Its major hurdle is the fact that you will spend a lot of time running from one location to another just to complete the occasional quest, and given that between each point there are enemy ambushes, random monster battles, and the occasional large angry creature, it's easy to get sidetracked. One saving grace to getting lost is the map, which happens to have a handy quest marker that singles out individual objectives. In addition, it also lets players place a handy marker anywhere of interest. Scouring the world isn't a complete waste of time either, as the world is filled with resources to grab, crafting materials, and the occasional treasure chest with goodies inside.

When not spending a tremendous amount of time running about from location to location players will likely be in combat which takes place in two real forms, dungeon and open world. Open world combat is generally pretty frantic, as it happens when players are likely heading from one location to another and frequently is in the form of an ambush. Wild animals, wolves, harpies and goblins make up a majority of the early game foes, but things really start to shine when exploring for cliff-side treasure turns into an counter with a hill giant. Combat against larger foes generally involves coordinating strikes against vulnerable limbs, cutting off additional heads, or tearing into any other weak points on a foe.

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