Dragon's Dogma Review
- Posted July 27th, 2012 at 11:18 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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Neither Monster Hunter nor Dark Souls--but a great combination of the two.
- Full, challenging experience
- Simplistic, engrossing leveling/enhancing system
- Innovative use of companions with other players
- Deceiving auto-save function
- No fast-travel
- Some issues with companion compliance
(continued from previous page) ...their equipment can be customized in the same ways that yours can. They can also carry extra equipment and materials found out in the wilds of Gransys, and they have the AI to handle any expected role of which they’re required. It’s quite impressive really, with the only incontingency being when players issue the simplistic commands via the D-Pad, which are “Come!” “Go!” and “Help!” with the latter being bound to both left and right. When this happens, companions tend to still pursue enemies even when fleeing, but spamming for them to come gets the job done well enough; it’s still a bit frustrating when a world monster clobbers your companion and you have to reconnect with them at the Pawn Stone.
The Pawn Stone is another great tool, which should be used frequently—literally, every time you return to Gran Soren. When companions die in combat, you return to the Pawn Stone and your created companion returns to your side. Upon its return, you can literally enter the Pawn Stone and search for other companions that other players of Dragon’s Dogma have created and bring them along with you on your journey. Two pawns, the technical word for companions from other players, can be added in this way to your group, and they can also be used as extra storage; in the event that they die, items they were holding go to an item bank located at the inn in Gran Soren. Pawns can’t be leveled the same way that your main character or companion can, so having to find replacements after a long excursion is a good idea. One of the most interesting aspects to the Pawn system is that these pawns also can be found walking around the world, and they can be recruited on the spot. Even if you have a group set that you like, you can favorite other pawns you find and access them later when you need them via the Pawn Stone.
Dragon’s Dogma has a vast array of monsters to fight, and each one has more than one way to manhandle any player. Assassins will ambush and maul you, Cyclopes will withstand massive damage and smash you with a huge club, and chimera will circle you until they find an opening. This is where group makeups are paramount. You must ALWAYS have a tank and a mage, so monsters can be managed and assessed properly. If a Cyclops is allowed to run rampant on a group, all of the damage-dealing characters will be laughably destroyed—believe me, you will not be laughing at this. Much like some of my experiences in Demon’s Souls, death can come from enemies that are easily dispatched. Every once in a while, random enemies will overtake you, albeit ambush or simply bad luck, and cut you down to size. When party members die, they can be revived without any effort. But when your main character dies, it’s game over. This happens frequently, on account of tricky monsters and the “auto-save function.”
When this game first loads up, it prompts players with a notification that it has an auto-save function. This is a loose technicality, since I had wasted countless hours backtracking through areas that I had already done multiple times over because of dying constantly. The game actually saves when a cutscene occurs or if you load into a new area. For your own sakes, upon starting this game, get in the habit of pressing start and then select after each triumphant victory. It will save you both time and heartache.
Cutscenes are rendered with the in-game engine, which doesn't do the graphics many favors. The game doesn't look terrible, by any means, but they're not awe-inspiring either. The game looks its best when the screen is full of action, monsters are moving around all over the place, and the party is managing multiple variables at once. It even becomes almost nerve-racking at night when everything gets pitch black, and the undead start attacking, and all your party has to rely on are small oil lanterns. Tread lightly; it will be dark.
The sounds of the game are wonderful, offering very robust animal noises that fit the bill for each creature. Voice acting isn't moving, but the story isn't exactly the full driving force to Dragon's Dogma either, but every non-player ... (continued on next page)