Picture, if you will, a peaceful fishing village. There you are, minding your own business, when suddenly an enormous dragon swoops out of the sky and rips your heart out of your chest! Welcome to Dragon’s Dogma. For the next 100 hours (give or take) you’re going to head out on a massive adventure to reclaim your heart. Good luck with that.
One of my favourite additions to an RPG is the ability to create your own characters. Dragon’s Dogma not only lets you create your own arisen, but also asks you to create a companion for yourself known as a pawn. It’s a very customisable feature, allowing for all kinds of body shapes, hairstyles, scars and ages. It’s up there with Skyrim and Oblivion’s customisation screens.
You also have the option to hire two more pawns from other players. And Pawns aren’t just useful for battle, they learn about quests, areas and monsters to aid you on your journey, so if you’re struggling to beat the Hydra, hire a pawn who knows about Hydras. Of course, Pawns can get irritating after a while: “Wolves master!” Where Pawn? “Don’t stray to close to the edge!” It’s half a mile away. “Tis weak to fire!” You get the idea.
Like every good RPG, or game in general, Dragon’s Dogma brings something new to the table. The land of Gransys is littered with giant monsters that your are encouraged to climb on. Yes, you heard right. There’s nothing quite like scaling the back of a towering Cyclops to reach the head so that you can stab it repeatedly in the eye. And the monsters are clever, for the most part; I’ve been ambushed by goblins, but I also watched an Ogre throw itself down a stairway.
All in all, it’s very responsive. Attacks don’t always hit the mark if you’re not quite on target but it’s never a problem. In fact the only real issue is the grab function. You have to be fairly precise with the timing and/or positioning, and don’t even think about jumping off a cliff onto a large enemy. You’ll probably splat.
The game itself looks great. Sure, the character models aren’t as pretty as games like Skyrim or Dragon Age, but the environments are beautiful, from the winding streets of Gran Soren to the open fields around Hillfigure Knoll to the dark caverns and foggy Witchwood. And there is so much to explore. I’ve put well over 100 hours into this game and still haven’t seen everything. And the soundtrack is one of my favourites. The music switches from happy adventure to death will eat your face in a matter of moments. Some of the tensest and indeed most terrifying moments in the game have come from a simple change in music.
Now, as I’ve already said, I’ve put well over 100 hours into this game and I’m probably nearing if not past the 200 mark. My first playthrough took 80 hours and that was just to kill the dragon. There are an abundance of sidequests to keep you occupied if you need to grind and once you slay the dragon the real game begins. With the introduction of Dark Arisen, I’m on my third playthrough and I still haven’t touched hard mode.
Put simply Dragon’s Dogma is a good, solid hack-and-slash with versatile character creation, hundreds of quests and downright epic monster battles. It’s well worth the £17 I paid for it, but, if you hate having to run from one end of the map to the other be sure to buy the more recent Dark Arisen version. It gives you earlier access to fast travel, plus you get a whole new adventure through Bitterblack Isle. If you’re an RPG fan, your collection will not be complete without this underrated gem.