Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Dragon's Dogma Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: May 30, 2012
  • X360

Engrossing and frustrating, Dragon's Dogma is a flawed and unique gem.

You might have heard Dragon's Dogma compared to Shadow of the Colossus, the The Elder Scrolls series, the Monster Hunter games, or even Dark Souls. But while this open-world role-playing adventure has some superficial similarities to these games and others, it can't really be described through such comparisons. Dragon's Dogma is stubborn and defiant, wonderful and infuriating in the way it does its own thing without regard for whether or not it was the right thing to do. That defiant attitude will have you cursing the game and rolling your eyes at the frustrations, yet you will be enchanted. When a game plays by a set of rules this unique, there is always a surprise lurking around the bend, or ready to strike from above.

And so you may love Dragon's Dogma. Prepare for a passionate relationship but a dysfunctional one, in which your lover refuses to give an inch, and yet you return for more. And like many relationships, this one begins with a bright spark--in this case, a prologue that gives you a taste of the legendary battles to come. And if that scenario doesn't draw you in, then an early cutscene certainly will: a dragon tears open your puny chest with a gigantic single claw, pierces your heart with that same claw, and swallows the vital organ in a gulp.

How could you possibly survive such an attack? After all: you have no heart! Answers come--well, some, anyway--but not before you ask countless more questions. You discover that you are the Arisen, but what does this title truly mean? How are you connected to this giant wyrm? How is it you can understand its guttural, unknown language? But before you find resolution, you must come to grips with yet another discovery. As the Arisen, you can command humanoids known as pawns that hail from another dimension. These pawns exist to serve; they wander the roads, ready to enlist as your companion, and aimlessly stroll in a murky otherworld called the Rift, where you can call them to your cause.

Up to three pawns can join you on your journey. One of them is a permanent fixture; you choose his (or her) looks, his name, and his class, and as he levels, you can equip skills and upgrades for him just as you can for yourself. Your other pawns are hirelings and can be taken on and dismissed as you see fit. These poor lost sheep aren't necessarily products of the game's creators, however; they may also be other players' main pawns who have stolen away to your own world, serfs to be bought by the land's rising star. Provided you have enough of the rift points needed to purchase them, you can bring on pawns of any level--even one much higher than yourself.

Monsters are everywhere, so be vigilant.

Traveling with pawns is like having the company of curious, forgetful children who are constantly delighted by the world around them. And like children, they never shut up about things, interrupting each other with abandon. "What a large tree," one enthuses, each time you pass the same oak. "It's weak to fire!" your mage exclaims, as if it isn't the hundredth time he's seen a goblin. There are ways to adjust your pawns' social behavior, but the repeated lines can get tiresome. How is it possible they're so surprised that the path is near the beach, when they've noted the information countless times already? The chatter is meant to make pawns seem aware of the world around them, but with so much repetition, the illusion is shattered.

Yet despite their short-term memory loss, there's a charm to the dignified acting and affected Ye Olde English dialogue of your pawns. Your minions are just so happy to serve you, so happy to remind you that you need to shoot at a cyclops's single eye that you can only shake your head in wonder of their dedication. If only their other transgressions were so modest. "Heal thyself" you will cry aloud to your mage, who possesses any number of healing items, yet ignores them in favor of throwing another few fireballs. You can set general behaviors and give general commands, but a system for micromanaging the AI in the way of Final Fantasy XII or Dragon Age: Origins would have been a godsend.

Nevertheless, your pawns--bless their childlike souls--have a way of earning your affection, both by announcing their desire to serve, and by summoning meteor showers and spikes of ice when you most need them. Dragon's Dogma's closing moments use this attachment to enormous effect. Don't worry that this is a spoiler: nothing could prepare you for the bizarre and memorable turn of events to come. Well, nothing, perhaps, but the few hours of incredible gameplay leading up to it, beginning with an amazing and heroic boss battle that just keeps going and going, yet never drags because it keeps introducing new ideas and finding new ways to build tension.

Your lamp provides illumination when you most need it. Just make sure you don't run out of lamp oil.

It certainly doesn't hurt that the same boss creature is many, many times your size--as are a number of the other monsters you face. Griffons, chimeras, and golems are among the beasts you slay, and the ensuing battles are the game's primary draw. Imagine this scenario: You exit the city of Gran Soren, and a massive shrieking griffon flies above, circling in the air before landing just a few feet from you. As a warrior, you lash away at its talons while your companions set its wings ablaze, though this is by no means a certain victory. The griffon may simply fly away if you don't occupy its attention long enough. It might pick you up, fly upward, and drop you to your death. But you might gain the upper hand by leaping upon it, grabbing its feathers, and flailing away as it soars through the skies.

Such moments are the culmination of Dragon's Dogma's outstanding combat scenarios. These are some of the best-animated creatures in any game to date. You've never seen chimeras like this: part lion, part goat, part snake, and all fearsome. The lion's head roars and bucks, while the goat atop it yowls its displeasure at the flames you have rained upon it. When you lop off the serpentine tail and the beast falls, it kicks its legs wildly as it tries to get back on its feet. With substantial creatures, you can grab an appendage and climb your way to any body part accessible, provided you've got the stamina. These may be beasts of legend, but they behave in believable ways. Gravity affects them in ways that make sense, and armor falls from their bodies as you smash into it.

You and your companions can clip into a monster's geometry, and the camera can get somewhat unwieldy when you're crawling up a hydra's waving tentacles. But considering the ensuing thrills, these are minor blights on a fantastic combat system. You choose from three initial classes, but six more open up later, each with its own particular skills and weapons. Whichever you choose, there's a great sense of impact. You feel sword meet flesh, and when you unleash a particularly powerful move, the game slows down to highlight your feat. Firing a bow feels fluid, and you hear and see the arrows hit their mark.

The excitement is compounded by the sensation that anything can happen, because it so often does. In one early mission, you shouldn't stay and fight the tentacles that rise from the ground: you need to sprint away as fast as you can. (Your companions all the while helpfully proclaim how there seems to be an endless supply of tentacles, prodding you to get out of there posthaste.) You find yourself donning a party hat at one point, unsure if everyone's laughing with you or at you. And in the final hours, new concepts, new enemies, and new visuals are introduced. At this stage, not only does Dragon's Dogma not feel like a typical role-playing game, but it doesn't even feel like the same game you had been playing just a few minutes before.

If only the brilliance weren't surrounded by so much tedium, and so many conceptual missteps.

Most of the frustrations come from Dragon's Dogma's structure. The game wants you to earn your victories, which is not a bad thing. But it also refuses to give you a helping hand, even if it means making your adventure feel like work rather than fun. For several hours, traveling the world of Gransys is more annoying than it is adventurous. There is no travel-on-demand system, so you spend many hours traveling the same brown canyons and winding paths you've seen countless times already, fighting the harpies and saurians that prowled there before. There are items to help you get back to town, but these one-use items are expensive--and the items that let you choose your own destination are even more so.

Questing can also take some time to get a handle on. An early quest might send you up a hill, where the wolves are thick but manageable, and then straight into a coven of bandits--which are anything but manageable. Even in a large, freely explorable game like Dragon's Dogma, you expect the enemy placement to have a certain flow. The abrupt shift from easy to impossible is disheartening when it comes just after a long trek from town, and leads to a long trek back. The lesson: there is no shame in turning back. But the time spent on the journey can end up feeling like time wasted.

Do you know what happens when a lizard gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.

The monotony of travel is compounded by the grayness and brownness of the roads and canyons. For too long, you crave visual variety that doesn't come, especially if you're used to the visual diversity of a game like Skyrim, where you might cross snowcapped mountains and survey lush caverns in the same hour. Yet there's more to Dragon's Dogma's art design than initially meets the eye--it's just that the variety is easy to miss when environments are painted with subtler brushstrokes than you're used to.

In other words, "art" means more than "color," and Dragon's Dogma makes excellent use of its earthen tones to bring Gransys to life. Explore to the north, and you discover a valley where you struggle against the wind, and then emerge to a cragged stronghold looming above the sea. Elsewhere, lifeless trees rise from the waters that pool amid the surrounding plateaus. Explore at night, and the sense of mystery intensifies. Your lamp illuminates only enough to aid your journey. Other bright orbs may appear, but these glowing visions are hardly friendly beacons of light. Tension is not exclusively a nighttime visitor, however. Snoozing lizards sun themselves on rocks, their snores warning you away--or perhaps inviting you to pierce them with arrows. And danger is consistently communicated by a cymbal undulation that you may never consciously notice but that instills anxiety each time.

Unlike its landscapes, Dragon's Dogma's story is hardly subtle, with its broad portrayals of cult leaders and crazed royalty. It tries to pull you in, but some events are so laughable that they effectively break the narrative. For instance, at one point, another man's betrothed professes her love for you, though you may have met her only once prior. After a twist, a turn, and a big fat lie, you face individuals who should--in theory--react very differently to you than they did before. Yet the event goes unmentioned, no love is lost, and you're left wondering how the game could fail so profoundly to acknowledge vital developments. Multiple quests can result in similar head-scratching inconsistencies--including outright mission failures--depending on the order in which you perform them.

Bash on that ogre long enough, and you reduce it to a quivering lump of flesh.

That doesn't mean that Dragon's Dogma is always ignorant of your choices, only that you are at the tale's fickle mercies, as if it is tolerating your presence rather than welcoming it. You occasionally face decisions that might cause you to miss out on entire quests. The same decision, however, might inspire a newfound ally to make a welcome appearance during a challenging battle. Toward the game's end, it's hard to know what consequence your decisions might even have, considering all the vague high-fantasy soliloquies that ultimately communicate so little. Yet one choice stands out, and may even leave you horrified. You don't just choose: you act. And those actions are shockingly final, even cruel.

These are the moments that stand out in a role-playing game destined to be remembered by anyone who plays it. Dragon's Dogma takes chances, and it's that riskiness that makes this role-playing game so unique among its peers. Of course, some of those risks will have you groaning. Dragon's Dogma is many things: a flawed classic, an exciting disaster, a triumphant mess. One thing it isn't is a generic rehash. Dragon's Dogma will remain with you, frustrations and victories alike, when your memories of other games have long since faded.

The Good
Fantastic combat encounters against awesome monsters
One of the best boss fights in any role-playing game, ever
There is always a surprise around the corner
Atmospheric touches that make the world feel authentic
A series of striking choices leads to an unforgettable ending
The Bad
Tedious backtracking through familiar territory
Exasperating pawn behavior
Bizarre quest-related and story events
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Dragon's Dogma

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

366 comments
zenter123456789
zenter123456789

hey!! Did someone here loved Dragon's Dogma and thinks Deep Down will be great too??

Vambran
Vambran

Found the game to be a bit dull. Stopped playing after two hours. I'm sure it's decent once you put some time into it , but i don't know if i want to force my self to play to that point.

rzayas28
rzayas28

This game is dreadful....avoid it at all costs!

Another reason Van Ords reviews are ridiculous!

KinoDaKonqueror
KinoDaKonqueror

This game deserves the same score as Skyrim.  It's fun, the pawns voices aren't annoying, and it has actually fun combat.(Something Skyrim sorely missed.)

Scarshi
Scarshi

Borrowed this game from a friend who already completed it and raved about it. 

 While it does have a gritty charm with its muddy visuals and reminds me (graphically) of Resident Evil without the zombies, after playing Skyrim for so long I just don't find it as captivating. While it is somewhat interesting to play, I don't think I can justify spending the time finishing it before giving it back. After a few hours I feel like I'm just slogging through the motions to try and justify going a bit further.

RustedTruck650
RustedTruck650

I wonder if this game is worth getting. I love Demons Souls and Dark Souls and thought when this game was announced that it sounded like right up my alley. However, the demo didn't do anything for me. Maybe i judged it too harshley?

Virtual_Erkan
Virtual_Erkan

I wonder if gamespot will review the Dark Arisen version.

Banyek
Banyek

definately deserves a sequel, one of the best games I played in 2012, has something like a gothic style linearity, I like everything in it! good game! play on people!

I_am_Epicus
I_am_Epicus

Woah woah woah.... Annoying followers? IS IT THAT HARD TO TUNE THEM OUT? Seriously, if you dislike a game becaus of your npc teamates then you will miss alot of games. ALL NPC's ARE STUPID. FROM EVERY GAME. EVER. And their comments are a lot less annoying if you acually listen to what they say and acually acknowlage the warnings they try to give you.

viewtifuljoey90
viewtifuljoey90

I thought this game will be great if have PS Vita release....

toyo75
toyo75

It's an ok game.

My only complaints are the lack of a "quick travel" option to locations you've already discovered since the map system is not really that useful. The pawns' A.I. aren't really smart and you don't have full control in customizing them. The graphics seems dated and the text are too small to read even in a larger TV.

I hope Capcom acknowledges these issues should they make a sequel.

 

The bosses & boss battles are very cool though.

edjos
edjos

Kevin, good review, as keza's is too. this game sounds like an errand son , always teasing and at the same time disappointing us.. the only problem is the time invested....

firzok
firzok

Come on Capcom give us PC folks this game too as it looks outstanding and lately all your games have been released for PC so why leave this one as it looks outstanding isn't there some petition like there was for Dark Souls?

saffire7
saffire7

This game sounds like fun!

push88
push88

Sooo, is your character considered to be undead?

Paoksis
Paoksis

From what ive seen so far,seems like this game has some pretty strong Pros,but also some stupid Cons....If they somehow manage to fix some aspects of this game with patching or expansions i might actually buy it

Slimefreak987
Slimefreak987

Is this game out in GBR because it looked really good. Should I get it, or not? Any replies would be appreciated being new to this site and all.

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

Seriously 9.0 would of been a fair score. 8.0 makes it seem just like anything else

1375alireza
1375alireza

whats beast game for the rpg player?

No_Named_Fan
No_Named_Fan

Can u customize your caracter or do you simply play "old-fashion way" with less customization options?

EzcapeTheFate
EzcapeTheFate

This games sweet. Its got dragons and dogs, what more do you want in a first person shooter game?

Razer361
Razer361

Is this game similar to monster hunter in any way?

GenDNA
GenDNA

My best ever rpg games final fantasy , dark and demons souls and dragon dogma.for skyrim fans.....well....umm...am sorry, only the mods make the game look good, if it wasn't for the mods the game would be just like any other fps rpg games with better and skills graphic and the rest is poooooooooooooor.

Stardust7
Stardust7

@rzayas28 nop , your coment is dreadful as your avatar ,too.DD is one of best game I ever played .

snova9308
snova9308

@KinoDaKonqueror 

the pawns ARE annoying, and thats why I selected an assassin class, and threw my pawn off a cliff. assassin is excelent for traveling alone, and it adds to the thrill, something I think is lacking when you are going around with 3 other bots to wail on the enemy, before you even get a chance to do something.

besides, you level up insanely fast when you go around alone.

snova9308
snova9308

@Scarshi 

but the boss battle with the dragon is about 9999% more epic compared to alduin...

alduin is like... the most anticlimactic boss I've ever seen.

TechSin
TechSin

@RustedTruck650 The PS3 has an adventure demo which allows you to play the first few main quests and when you do decide to buy the game you can use your demo save to continue the game. If you don't have the PS3, then I can certainly say this game is worth getting although you may want to wait for Dark Arisen, which includes some fixes and an expansion pack which isn't available as a separate download. 

I know plenty of people who enjoyed the Souls games and also enjoyed this game, but don't let the comparison in difficulty fool you. Dragon's Dogma is only hard on lower levels and low level equipment. Once you rack up some experience and get better weaponry the difficulty switches from very hard to very easy.

r3flex0
r3flex0

@I_am_Epicus Except Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. She made that game so much better than it would of been without her as a npc follower.

Razer361
Razer361

 @toyo75 Actually there is a quick travel system, but it doesn't become very useful until your second play through. And the graphics are really good until you watch a cutscene with super close-ups and makes them look ugly. The Pawns are stupid, i'll agree with you there.

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

 @Paoksis Oh dude, the ONLY major flaw I have with this game is one save file.  All of the other stuff is seriously just...tiny little problems that people who nitpick get annoyed with.  I, for one, have no problem with the chattiness of the pawns.  I love it when they shout out things about the monsters, not a lot of games do it to this detail.  And if you turn off the dialogue boxes that pop up every time a pawn speaks, it seriously grows on you and it actually makes the game more awesome.  But yeah, one save file.  THAT part sucks.  It would be fine if the game let you mess with the way your character looked at some point, but alas, that isn't to be.  At least you can change classes whenever you want, provided you have the discipline points for it.  The whole no fast travel thing honestly, in my opinion, not that bad.  This game doesn't really need fast travel because, well, the world is truly dangerous.  And you have limited fuel, and pawns gain wisdom and experience from questing.  So really, if they had fast travel it would kind of break the game.  Pawns wouldn't know diddly squat, and you could run out of fuel for no reason.  Once you've played the game, you'd understand why there's no fast travel.  But I guess it's a love or hate kind of thing.  But I must say, the game's cons are far outweighed by the pros, and the other amazing elements the game has.  It's a more hardcore approach, because it won't hold your hand, however some aspects are so simple to keep the game from being way to complicated.  Get it.  If you like open-world action RPG's...

svenjl
svenjl

@Paoksis Actually, I would say that the cons are FAR outweighed by the many fantastic elements of the game. Get it! Just remember to save your money because there's some great equipment later in the game. The "boss" fights are stunning. Great world and exploration, great combat, forgettable characters, OK story, heaps of loot and customization.

Razer361
Razer361

 @Slimefreak987 First game I paid $60 for, and haven't regretted it yet. It's not perfect, but it's sooooo addictive!

Zeeksie
Zeeksie

 @Slimefreak987 Buy it, you won't regret it. The cons can be ignored while the pros will get you preaching about this game for a long time.

Nephandu
Nephandu

 @No_Named_Fan The customization is incredibly deep. You can customize every little detail in your character, or you can just use presets if you dont like to do that. This is the first game I built a character which seemed just like me (and had my height and weight!). The clothing is also another thing that is deeply customized...

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

 @1375alireza It gets pretty difficult, especially early game.  I'm actually stuck on a quest because there are simply TOO MANY BANDITS!!!  But if there's a quest that's too hard, either grind hire a pawn that's stronger and has that particular "quest knowledge" as I like to call it.  The Pawns are neat because they actually learn from questing and stuff.  It's cool :) but definitely nothing compared to Demon's Souls at least...I haven't gotten the chance to play Dark Souls.

 

theblackfrog
theblackfrog

 @1375alireza it gets harder later but i wouldnt compare it to dark souls though....there is new game +

malloski
malloski

 @Razer361 Very much and more! Since CAPCOM gave the Monster Hunter Franchise to Nintendo....  PS3 fans and XBOX fans were left hanging. So they developed Dragon's Dogma to feed the need. If you're a Monster Hunter Fanatic like me... this is your game.  :)

 

nechiken
nechiken

 @GenDNA I have never played an Elder Scrolls Game for the graphics. Hell, I played through fucking Morrowind and enjoyed it immensely. If you played Dark Souls for the graphics only, you'd know that the performance is downright awful. Stutters all over the place, the frame rate is awful, and the game doesn't even look that great, so it's a wonder why it runs so poorly. And no, rpgs are not fps games.

lemoinedoubli
lemoinedoubli

@snova9308 @KinoDaKonqueror I had played the game recently as an Assassin, pretty much made the everfall and ur-dragon a joke. Though then again, it was extremely fun to play, even if it took 60% of my time just to finally solo with insane amounts of damage.

Scarshi
Scarshi

@snova9308 @Scarshi That is so very true. Alduin was a joke of a boss. I guess I just didn't care for the fact I was playing my 4 year old xbox 360 since I switched back to pc gaming.

If Dogma came out on PC, I'd give it another go.

Razer361
Razer361

 @Lockjaw2000  @Paoksis PEOPLE PLEASE! there is a fast-travel system! you just don't get to make good use of it until your second play-through

Razer361
Razer361

 @malloski Oh, yeah, Monster hunter is in my top 5 video game series of all time, so if this is similarly as epic as MH, i'll be all into it! 

W0OOTY
W0OOTY

@zenter123456789 @W0OOTY Honestly i had no idea what you were talking about but i looked it up and yes. I very much wish it to be on the xbox one. looks cool so far.

Razer361
Razer361

 @Lockjaw2000  @Paoksis Hehehe sorry, it seems like people don't even know it exists, and I feel like i'm the only one who realized it was there

Lockjaw2000
Lockjaw2000

 @Razer361  @Paoksis We know this sir, calm down lol it's pretty much nonexistent except for the Ferry stones until later.  The port crystals.  And you can place them wherever you want :)

 

Dragon's Dogma More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Dragon's Dogma is an exciting and frustrating role-playing game featuring challenging battles versus monstrous foes.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 1479 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Dragon's Dogma
    Developed by:
    Capcom
    Published by:
    Capcom
    Genres:
    Action, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence