Remembering Dragon's Dogma

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Posted by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

Man, was this a great game or what! I recently revisited Dragon's Dogma, and while there were sum glaring issues with the game, it was definitely a stand out title for me this generation. When I sat down to write about the game, I found that I had done a great write-up on the demo, back before the games release. I wanted to share that with you all, as it does a great job of really capturing some of the better aspects of the game. For anyone that hasn't played Dragon's Dogma yet, SHAME ON YOU!! Stop what you're doing, read this, get excited, and go get this game. You can pick it up for about $25-$30 bucks. You can thank me later.

NOTE: What follows is my initial impressions of the Dragon's Dogma demo for PlayStation3. The impressions found in the demo ring true of the final games release as well.

Today's PlayStation Store update included a demo of Dragon's Dogma. I've been following this game for a while now and it's been looking very promising. As of about a month ago I began losing interest in this game, as it just seemed too generic or too similar to other recently released action games. So when the demo was released today, I figured I'd better check it out just to be sure that letting it fall off my radar was the right choice.......boy was I wrong!

As I booted up the demo, I'm brought to the opening screen where I have a few options available to me.

1) Play through the prologue of the game

2) Go through the Character Creation Editor

3) Play through one of the games quests (involving a Griffin battle)

4) Options.

Naturally I wanted to start with option 1, the prologue, but my kids were running around like crazy animals and I knew I wouldn't be able to focus on what I was doing. So I started with the Character creation. I've always been fascinated with people and how they can spend so much time on these editor, but I guess people like choices and this offers you plenty. You start by picking your gender, then delve deeper into three or four main categories. It's at this point that you can say "Great, that'll do" and move on. Or you can choose to further customize things in all the greater detail we've come to expect from this generations character editor systems.

For my main character I stopped at the basic customized male. Next you create your main Pawn. Pawns are your AI controlled partners basically, that level with you as you play through the game. It's nice that you get a chance to customize them as fully as yourself. But, it's boring enough to sit through character creation, let alone read about it. So I'll stop there by saying if you like customizing your character with great precision, you won't be let down by Dragon's Dogma. I should mention that if you do spend time customizing your main character and pawn, the demo will carry that information over to the full game, which is great! That's that.

Now that my kids have finally scurried off to another room, I feel it's safe to begin the Prologue demo without much interruption. You start in this underground cave type area, with your pawn informing you that it's pretty dark, better pull out your lantern. So before any hacking or slashing take place, I'm prompted to "press select" to open my inventory screen and equip the lantern. Upon doing so I notice a UI that is reminiscent of Demon/Dark Souls in terms of looks and feel. All items have weight, and your characters equip weight does affect your movement. You have your character and pawns name, life bar, and stats on the left, with the inventory items on the right. Fairly straight forward and simple, items are categorized into 4 or 5 sections, and all items have two descriptions, one that's lore heavy and the other that's shorter but quickly informative.

I equip my lantern, and I notice that the description says that the lantern takes oil, and I have a fairly good amount. This immediately lead me to an interesting conclusion....that this game will factor in many, many facets, all the way down to your equipped lantern and its internal oil level. This adds a depth to the game that ventures into RPG territory, something I'm extremely pleased to see. With my lantern equipped and the cave illuminated nicely, I began familiarizing myself with the controls. The D-pad is used for commanding your pawn. L1+square/triangle/circle are for your shield/shield attacks. L2 sheaths your weapon. R1+square/triangle/circle are for sword attacks. R2 is used to grasp, more on that later. Square alone is a light attack, Triangle alone is a heavy attack, X jumps, and circle is used for picking items up/examining/conversing with your pawns. As I slashed and thrust my sword daftly through the air, I noticed a little red stamina bar beneath my health dropping. So stamina will play a big role in this game, as when it runs out, your character is left exposed to attacks as he doubles over and gasps for a bit. I'm sure the weight of your armor and items equipped will factor in here as well adding some planning and strategy to your battles. No Dynasty Warriors hack-n-slash here.

With the control scheme fully within my grasp, I finally heed my pawns cry's to push on forward. We are met with some resistance in the way of goblins and hacking them to the ground with plenty of attacking options just feels right. Great attention has been paid to the weighted feel of your attacks. Each blow lands with crushing weight signaling that the combat will be an exciting undertaking instead of a monotonous or laborious chore. You'd think this wouldn't need to be stated as it is mainly an action game, but with all the AAA titles that have released lately with such a lack luster combat system (Skyrim I'm talking about you here), it truly is worth noting when a game does it right. The remainder of the prologue has you and your team fight off some harpies and battle a Chimera beast as the conclusion of this section of the demo. Several times during combat, I noticed the camera focus in on one of my mage pawns as they cast spells to enhance my blade with fire. They did this all on their own and it's clear that the AI has received plenty of attention, and will not be a hindrance, but a blessing in this game.

The Chimera battle did allow for me to get in close and use R2 to grasp and climb up onto the beast. While atop the Chimera I was able to use light attacks until my stamina bar ran out before being tossed off. Whenever I performed a heavy attack it then caused me to lose my grip and fall off afterward, regardless of my remaining stamina. So it's a trade off, but I'll leave it to you to find out which one works best for you. Come to think of it, I did also try to grasp one of the goblins in a prior battle with R2 and while holding him my pawns would launch attacks at the detained enemy. I didn't try all the attack options while grasping the goblin, but I can confirm that you are able to throw them which then leaves them open to further unguarded attacks.

That's it for the prologue part of the demo, and so far so good. My excitement level for this game has definitely jumped to PRE-ORDER status, yes. Next I moved onto the quest level of the demo. Feeling like I've got a strong understanding on my swordsmanship skills, I'm ready for anything at the onset of this quest....except for the fact that it starts you out with a bow!! Thrown off for a minute I stand there starring at the group of goblins in the distance missing my sword. That feeling of longing was quickly remedied as I launched a volley of arrows into the group of goblins with a single button press, followed swiftly by a “Triad Flaming Arrow” attack that shoots several arrows into the incoming line of 3 goblins. Now that I've got my footing with the bow I feel unstoppable! As I launch wave after wave of arrows into the enemies, I'm no longer stepping backward, but forward! Just before I'm able to take out the last of the goblins, my prowess of invincibility is quickly squashed by the GRIFFIN LANDING ON MY HEAD!!! The tides have turned and I'm back to backpedaling with my bow. Thankfully my pawns are there by my side for reinforcements. It's just then that I realize that I'm not simply an archer....but a Rogue (SWEEEET) L1 is now used for brutally efficient dual wielding dagger attacks, while R1 is the bow skill set. With my new found daggers I lay into that bird like a Thanksgiving turkey.

A few minutes later me and my crew are successful in subduing the griffin. I collect my booty, and a "Quest Completed" banner appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. With that my demo concluded. Still hyped up from the skirmish I restart the quest to play it again. This time being fully aware that a huge griffin was on the approach, I was a bit better prepared. Again I tried the grasp and climb mechanic that feels so closely evocative of The Shadow of Colossus, but with less difficulty. Hanging from the griffins hind-quarters, I relentlessly stab and jab with quick successive light attacks causing moderate damage. After being tossed off, I hustled back up to him, this time ascending the head. To my delight, attacking the head with the same light attack did considerably more damage since I was attacking the head instead of the rear (as it should be). Again, it's something small but noticeable. Having the attack damage vary based on your attack location on the body of your enemy, adds to the realism and strategy. It took considerably less time to fell the beast attacking the head instead of the tail.

The entire demo playthrough took only about 30 minutes. So it was just a small taste of what lies ahead. And yes some of the combat felt a little chaotic at times, and the controls/camera aren't perfect. But given the size and scope of this game, I have to say this is shaping up to be a highly anticipated game on my must buy list. If you haven't already, do yourself a favor and check out the demo…After that, go pre-order this game!

-Rendermonk

#1 Edited by wiouds (5619 posts) -

I played it but I do not the game that good,

#2 Edited by Randolph (10542 posts) -

I was impressed by the demo as well when I finally got around to playing it, floored, in fact. Went out and bought the Dark Arisen version full game that next day. But found out two major flaws I should have better researched. One, lolicon pawns. That is just weird and unappealing, and the game is flooded with them (all half dressed, naturally) by perverts who play online. Two, the pawns are annoying as all get out. I had the DA version, and switching them to Japanese voice acting did help a little, but things repeated OVER AND OVER AGAIN NON-STOP are still annoying, even if said in a language I do not understand.

#3 Edited by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

@Randolph: Yea I know, the pawns did kind of repeat themselves to the point of frustration didn't they. Also, a lot of people complained about the lack of fast travel (even though there was some form of it towards the end). But I enjoyed the fact that there wasn't fast travel teleportation to the next spot. I liked roaming the open roads, taken in the sights, and killin some baddies before arriving at the next local I needed to be at.

Despite some of those flaws the game had, I didn't think any of it's faults were enough to detract from the fantastic game play. That combat was SO well done, in my opinion and compared to other similar genres, that it was just so immediately loveable for me.

I think Europe got it as part of the IGC on PS+ didn't they? Here's hoping it comes to N.America PS+ IGC soon.

EDIT: Didn't know what a "lolicon" was, had to go look it up. And if that's true of what was all over the Dark Arisen game, that's a real shame.

#4 Posted by Randolph (10542 posts) -

@JJames3dCG:

Yeah, it bothered me, and that's too bad. That and the repetitive/bad acting distracted from what was and still is the best combat engine of any third person action RPG ever made. If Deep Down is truly a next gen version, but without those distractions, it will be a stellar game. Hopefully, if Capcom does go under, someone really competent picks up the IP and does wonderful things with it.

#5 Posted by wiouds (5619 posts) -

@Randolph: I found the combat to be boring with nothing really there.

#6 Edited by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

@wiouds: Really don't understand how you can feel that way. As weapons you can use, there were Magic Staffs, Bows, Swords, Daggers....each one with a wide range of attack options, EACH with their own mechanics/animations, all of which looked incredible and felt weighted to realism. Aside from the weapon choices and how well they performed individually, you could also scale larger creatures and attack them from atop their bodies! The transition from ground combat to climbing combat was smooth, easy, and fun.

Another really fun part, as described in the demo impressions, was the varying ways of dealing with enemies by "grabbing" them. The fact that you can grab an enemy, and your AI controlled pawn, will make their way to you to attacked the detained creature (all without prompting mind you) is a pretty extraordinary feet to watch.

I can appreciate if none of that "appealed" to you, but to just say "combat was boring with nothing really there", isn't very descriptive of how the combat let you down. How much did you play of the game?

#8 Edited by wiouds (5619 posts) -

@JJames3dCG: The different weapon mechanics was not enough. For sword you press that attack button when you are ready. For the magical bow, you hold the attack button until you are lock on and then release. In the end I find myself repeat the same thing over and over again to win fights.

There are really only three enemies you can scale. You will face each one of them a large number of times that you will know the how to face then, For the griffin you climb onto it, move to the neck and press the button until it is dead. The Chimera you attack the snake, goat and then the lion head. The giant just climb and then mash the attack button.

The rest of the enemies are just a basic type. There not much to say about this but they narrowly follow three group, melee, range or flying.

I say that WRPG are quest base RPG since many times you can do more things than just charge at the enemies. Their most common problem is that they have boring combat. You know skill not used in combat.

I say that JRPG are combat focus RPG since they focuses on combat with rich enemies. Their most common problem is that there not much to do outside of combat and they only way to deal with problems is to fight,

Dragon Dogma is taking the boring combat from a WRPG with the limited and weak field system of a JRPG.

I beat the game and only found one good fight out of it. I think that was my problem it started off good but it goes down hill.

#9 Posted by Trail_Mix (2579 posts) -

Easily one of my favorite games this generation.

If it weren't for its issues it could've rivaled the Souls series in popularity. Shame, as it's deserving, because the things DD does right happens to be some of the best I've experienced in a game. Like the combat for example.

#10 Posted by wiouds (5619 posts) -

@Trail_Mix said:

Easily one of my favorite games this generation.

If it weren't for its issues it could've rivaled the Souls series in popularity. Shame, as it's deserving, because the things DD does right happens to be some of the best I've experienced in a game. Like the combat for example.

Why do you like the combat?

#11 Posted by JJames3dCG (121 posts) -

@wiouds: Well it sounds like you just aren't a fan of that game style itself. You seem to prefer JRPG's, and classic turn based RPG's. Nothing wrong with that. I'm a HUGE FAN of JRPG's and classic turn based RPG's, my fav genre actually. But I can appreciate other genres as well, and this action rpg really just did it for me. Sorry it didn't do it for you.

#12 Edited by megaspiderweb09 (3686 posts) -

Got the game from PS+ and enjoyed the whole thing, such a sleeper hit this was and i really hope Capcom gives it a deserving sequel on Next generation consoles.

Mystic Knight FTW

#13 Posted by _Judas_ (679 posts) -

To me, this game was an amazing experience. I played this game over and over again, completing the campaign 4-5 times, I believe. If you want to read my full opinion of the game and it's strenghts and weaknesses, check out my review at my profile.

I really hope we see a next-gen. sequel to this game. The possibilities are there. There were so many places on the map that were left unexplored, and the rich lore of the game could easily create another epic experience. I do have a couple fo things I wish for in a sequel like more different weapons like axes, spears, polearms and the likes.

I truly love this game and I actually think of revisiting this game EVERY DAY but then I start playing GTAV and forget DD for the next 2 hours.