Capcom has finally decided to take a stab at the hard core RPG genre with a hybrid of Western and Japanese play styles. That game is Dragon’s Dogma, a blend of each styles that Capcom has made their own. The result offers some unique aspects that haven’t been done much in RPGs of the past.
The story begins far into the past. Every so often, a dragon will emerge and begin a reign of terror over the people of Gransys. A chosen warrior, known as the Arisen, comes forth to combat the evil beast and slay it to bring peace back to their world. Cut to years later, your character, a simple person from a fishing town, is attacked by the new emerging dragon. The dragon rips out your heart, and takes it for his own. Even without this vital organ, you are somehow still alive and well. You are now Arisen. With that new title, you also gain some new abilities. You can now control and summon warriors called pawns to aide you in your struggle. By utilizing your newfound powers, you take up arms with your pawn, and begin the long journey to slay the dragon and get your heart back.
Dragon’s Dogma is a real time RPG that not only relies on the player being skilled with the control scheme, but also at the preparation and allocation of skills and abilities of an RPG. This game is very complex in both combat and exploration of the world.
The game has a western RPG feel when it comes to combat. It’s high in action and fast paced. Even though it may move quickly, one should never just run headfirst into a battle. The game can be rather difficult if you’re not prepared for the upcoming fight. You have a light and heavy attack as well as up to three special stamina-fueled abilities mapped to the face buttons depending on which bumper you hold. There are two areas of special attacks: primary and secondary. For instance, if I’m playing a Strider, my primary special attack would revolve around dagger skills, while my secondary skills would be bow and arrow attacks. Stamina management is of the utmost importance in Dragon’s Dogma. If you run completely out of stamina, you’ll be incapacitated for a short while as you catch your breath. This will leave you wide open for attacks unless one of your pawns comes to help you out.
Another great thing about the game is the unique pawn system. You create your very own pawn that will always be with you. You can chose how they look, what their vocation will be and even how they will act in combat. They are AI controlled, but what is so great about the pawns is that they actually learn what to do in certain situations. If you fight goblins for the first time, your pawn may learn how to take on some of them. The next time you fight a group of goblins, your pawn will be more effective in the fight by either going for weak points or using certain skills that can take them down faster. It’s a very intelligent system.
Another unique feature of the pawn system is the summoning of other players’ pawns. By going to a rift stone in towns and camps, you can recruit them. You can have up to two separate pawns with you at all times, for a maximum party size of four (you, your pawn and two others). This is where a lot of strategy comes into play. If you have a ranged character and your pawn is a tank warrior, you should consider recruiting a healer at the rift stone. While in the rift stone, you can search for random characters by level, skills, vocations, and even your friends list. To keep you from grabbing a level 80 pawn at level 10, you have to spend Rift Points to recruit pawns. These points can be earned through completing quests.
Not only can you summon other players’ pawns into you game, they can summon your pawn into their game as well. When doing so, your pawn may gain combat knowledge that you may not have learned in your game yet. They can also be gifted an item to take back to you after being released from recruitment. You never lose your main pawn, but when you sleep at an inn, your pawn “returns” from other worlds.
Leveling up in the game has some unique aspects as well. By gaining experience, your base stats (hit points, stamina, etc.) will increase. This will not grant you new skills and abilities, though. To get those, you must rank up your vocation. You do this by using your skills and abilities in combat; basically just fighting with your vocation in place. When ranked up, you can learn new skills at inns by spending the Discipline Points you earned in battle. You can not only learn skills, but also special attributes that pertain to your vocation. You can also change your vocation at any time so long as you have the points to spend. Your main pawn can only be a full vocation while your main character can take on hybrid vocations that can be a mixture of two classes. Each has their own unique abilities and moves.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.