First Impressions: Dragon’s Dogma

I actually first played a bit a Dragon’s Dogma when the game first came out, but decided to hold off on really getting into because I had so many games to go through at the time.  But now I’ve come back to it, & having to get used to the controls again.  The game doesn’t play like any other RPG I’ve ever tried.

I haven’t gotten that far into the plot, what I know so far is that you take on the role of “The Arisen” after a dragon attacks your village & steals your heart.  As The Arisen, not only is it your destiny to confront this dragon, but it also gives you the ability to command Pawns, humanoid beings with no will of their own.  The Pawn feature is definitely the most unusual aspect of Dragon’s Dogma.  You can have up to three Pawns, & they essentially act as NPC squadmates.  But the unique aspect is that you get your own personal Pawn that you can customize, from their appearance to their skills.  This Pawn will stay with you throughout your journey.  However, the Pawn can also be hired by other players to accompany them, gaining experience & items to bring back to you.  This also means that the Pawns you hire are someone else’s.  I find it to be a very interesting system.

The Pawns themselves are very useful.  I haven’t felt like I need to babysit them.  They’re competent in a fight, know how to use skills properly & will gather items from the environment.  They’re also pretty indestructible.  Although they can fall during a fight, if you can get to them in time to revive them, they’ll rise with half health.  You have a pretty large window to revive them as well.  If you don’t they simply despawn & you can get them back when you reach another Rift Stone.

So far, I’ve found that the best combination for the Strider is two Warrior Pawns (1 my own) & a Mage with at least one healing spell.

And of course I can’t talk about this game without talking about the bosses.  They’re huge.  So far I’ve fought a chimera, an ogre & a hydra.  All of these, & some regular creatures, are defeated using the grab mechanic.  This lets you pick up smaller items & enemies or climb around on larger enemies.  It adds a lot of tension to boss fights as you scramble around on a giant snake’s back to stab its head a few time.

I do have a few complaints so far.  One, interacting with NPC’s is a bit sketchy.  By this, I mostly mean that there is zero lip syncing.  I also don’t like that you have to go to special characters to use your skill points to buy new skills.  You level up automatically, but you can’t use you points on your own.  Enemies also respawn when you re-enter an area, but unlike other games, the exact same enemies respawn in the exact same place.  This can make traveling tedious.

But my biggest complaint is that there is no scaling of enemies & no way to tell if you’re getting in over your head until you’re already in too deep to get out.  This has happened several times to me.  One time I managed to barely scrape by — after dying three times — & the other I just had to run away after losing all of my Pawns.  I really hate when games do this: give you the illusion of freedom to explore & take quests as you want but put barriers like this up so that in reality you have to play the way they want.

But complaints aside, I have been enjoying this unique RPG experience & am looking forward to playing more.  I’m not sure if I’ll wait until I’ve completed the game to review it.  It’ll depend on how long it looks like it’ll take.

– GamerDame


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