Until recently, Dragon’s Dogma had only been a blip on my gaming radar. I’ve seen a screenshot here, a mention there, but it seemed to me like just another generic, medieval-type game; a ‘Skyrim Wannabe,‘ even. In fact, I considered it to be another one of those ‘Japanese developers trying to be American again’ kind of games. After playing through the full demo, the western influence is definitely noticeable, but by the feel of it, Dragon’s Dogma isn’t just a Skyrim clone. There are a few major reasons why fans of western and eastern styled games should take notice.
The fact that it is being developed by Capcom means that Dragon’s Dogma is not only going to have its own distinct Japanese flair, but it also is in the hands of some of the veteran developers that brought you great game IP’s such as Devil May Cry, Resident Evil and even the almost forgotten Breath of Fire series. The free demo was made known to me and so I decided to give the game a whirl, based on the interest of a fellow Operation Rainfall staffer. I played the version on Playstation 3.
The first thing I jumped into was the character creation. This kind of feature has become somewhat common now, and I myself am guilty of spending hours customizing characters in Soul Calibur V. While not as deep as the customization in Namco’s fighter, it does have a certain depth of its own that could surely have you tweaking the minutia of character physique for hours if you so desire.
The demo sports two quests to tackle- the first being ‘Prologue Quest,’ where you take the role of Arisen, and must face a dragon; the second, ‘Countryside Quest’, involves you and your customized characters on a mission to defeat a flying griffin. The action buttons are mapped out simply on the controller, with a jump, light attack, and heavy attack among other things. Several of the attacks can combo with themselves if you press the same attack repeatedly, and other attacks as well in sequence (not to mention the different trigger button combinations).
The meat and potatoes of the demo would definitely be the boss battles in both quests. In the first, a multi-headed Chimera-like beast awaits you and your teammates (or teammate, if you didn’t activate the ‘riftstone’), and a fierce, flying griffin in the other. In both battles, Capcom has made clear that they want you to get down and dirty in the fights, literally. In both occasions, I managed to climb on top of the beast in question, then scurry around and attack different parts of its body. With the Chimera, I first lopped off its tail, then shimmied over to the flailing goathead and put it out of its misery. The Griffin was a bit trickier at first, swiftly evading my arrow shots and grabs, but my companion was helpful enough to be a human catapult and launch me ‘skyward’ at the right moment to grab hold of the feisty thing.
The situations at first seemed like lambs walking into a lion’s den, but eventually developed into pretty easy fights when I understood the right tactics. After finishing the demo, I put down the controller with a grin that did not exist before I played Dragon’s Dogma. Aside from the few camera troubles I encountered (mainly indoors when fighting the Chimera), the game plays well, with nice arcade-like action, which is what Capcom is known for.
If the rest of the game lives up to and expands upon what is shown in the demo, then Dragon’s Dogma is surely going to be a blast to play. It just depends on how Capcom follows through with the experience. We’ll find out when the game ships for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on May 22nd. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for more news about this game.
Played the demo? Please put your thoughts in the comments below! (Demo available on PSN and Xbox Live)