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Dragon’s Dogma is set in the vast world of Gransys. The story starts off with a character named Savan. Strong willed, he is off to fight the dragon for reasons unknown other than he is, in fact, a chosen one. What makes him so special? You won’t understand right now, but this sets the scene of your main goal and also acts as a nice tutorial stage where you get to fight a mighty chimera. Once you progress from this stage you find yourself in the present where you play as your own character which you create who is enjoying his or her life in the small town of Cassardis. Life in Cassardis is magical; warm skies above, blue seas lapping against the golden sands of her beaches and a bountiful catch of fish daily. Nothing could be better than this but for your character, the time for change is nigh, and it’s not by choice either. Cassardis is attacked by the antagonist of the game, the dragon. Acting as the stalwart hero your character picks up a sword dropped by guard and attacks the dragon, piercing his skin. The dragon retaliates by stealing your heart and swallowing it whole. You fall unconscious and are found on the beach among the dead the only one breathing. Left with a scar, you hear a voice telling you the only way to regain your heart, the key piece to make you whole again, is to defeat this dragon and reclaim what is rightfully yours thus starting your adventure and giving you the title of ‘Arisen’.
Having read reviews for this game and watched the trailers, I was excited. It reminded me of Shadow of The Colossus, what appeared to be an unappreciated game on the Playstation 2 in which the protagonist climbed and killed a series of Colossi to bring back the soul of his love who had been sacrificed earlier in the game. The only differences are that Dragon’s Dogma; runs much more smoothly, is a lot more colourful and consists of smaller beasts to tackle besides the dragon that is. With this in mind and with all the hype, it’s sad to say I was somewhat let down with certain aspects of the game.
Once you start the story and you’ve awoken, there comes the time of setting off out of the town and starting your journey but there is no real indication of this. There are quests from strangers, quests from notice boards situated around and not to forget the story based quests. There are countless quests to do but there is no indication of which quests are which. How do you know you’ve started a storyline quest? I had no idea. Running around an empty map finding little icons come up on my map, not having any clue of what they were and confirming with the manual, I found myself navigating the quest menu a lot. The good thing there is I could choose which quests I wanted to do but I could not differentiate the differences between side quests and main quests which left me running around for an hour before moving on to the next part of the story.
The controls themselves whilst fighting appeared a little clunky at the start needed a good five to ten minutes of practice before succeeding in taking on a group of goblins. The setup allows you to hit with X and Y but then use weapon specific attacks with the bumpers. These have been allocated to certain slots in which you unlock when you level up and purchase them using XP or ‘Discipline’. Having done so I was easily able to do certain attacks with ease and felt comfortable in using the controls and with that I could take on anything, be it a goblin or even the dragon himself!
The final thing that let me down was the inadequacy of the cut scenes. More important scenes aside, there is barely any expression on the faces of NPCs that are talking to you. The speech is also sometimes delayed but what does that matter, as their mouths hardly move anyway! The lack of life in the NPCs and towns makes the world feel empty in the safer areas. You aren’t able to explore the majority of buildings and the ones you can are generally shops, which have nothing of much interest besides the shopkeepers who sell you their wares. As I’m on the topic of locations, there are only two real towns; Cassardis and Gran Soren (the main city you spend will most your time in). Any other locations are smaller forts that don’t really offer much in terms of resting and buying wares, in fact, they’re just there as a temporary safe zone to prepare for the next destination.
With these points in mind, what I really did enjoy was the story. Once you get on track and you’ve helped out so many people with their quests, you will find yourself fighting bigger and better creatures. The story really does start to pace up once you start participating in the Wyrm hunt, a series of quests that are more story orientated and push you forward through the game right up to the battle with the dragon to reclaim your heart. Once you’ve defeated the beast, the game doesn’t end just yet, the further content pushes the boundaries of the story and due to the twists and turns your mind will be blown.
Another good thing is that in a world that feels like you’re alone, you are most definitely not. You have a partner, albeit not a multiplayer, this AI character is whatever you make him or her and they will do your every bidding. Your pawn will follow you to the ends of the earth quite literally and not only that, but they also possess another ability, the ability to be plucked from the servers of your game and ‘hired’ by other players around the globe, with a currency known as Rune Crystals. Your pawn is then rated by these players once they have done with them. They will then come back with knowledge of how to kill certain beasts, the knowledge of how to do certain quests or even some kind of item depending on what the player decides your pawn deserves for questing with them.
I’m a guy who enjoys looking at art, so in game scenery has to look good. I expect leaves to look crisp on trees, mountainous ranges to be rolling beautifully across plains and water to flow with a fluidity of well, water! And I have not been let down; the graphics of the landscapes play out beautifully and it really looks amazing. The character models of monsters and other beasts also look great, their movement is smooth and their attacks are harsh. The only let down here is that what you have with the monsters, you lose with the NPCs in the city.
Overall, if you can forgive Capcom for their abundance of blunders with the main cities and NPC models/animations/speech then you will enjoy this game with its intense story and pulling power. The fact you can create yourself and put yourself in a game with a straightforward goal to get back your heart is enough to start off any gamer. However, I give you fair warning now, be prepared for an intense story with so many twists and turns your mind will boggle! For me, this game truly offers a story so great that I could play it again and again and if this draws you in as much as I, you will be in for a treat!
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