January, 27th 2016
Time Played: 43 hours
Last Played: 1/27/16
Dragon’s Dogma: Take up arms, Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma is a weird game. Like, in the good way– it’s definitely good weird. What makes it weird? Well, Dragon’s Dogma has excellent combat, interesting monster design, an open world, and a steep difficulty curve. But it’s also heavily Japanese. If that doesn’t mean anything to you well… It’s like Monster Hunter meets Dark Souls, with a dash of Skyrim. Two great games, and a pretty good one. Which game I am referring to, you decide.
Now, don’t get me wrong I love this game. I played it back on the Xbox 360, and recently bought it again to replay it! Capcom decided to re-release it on the Steam, and when I heard this I actually yelled in excitement. “‘BOUT TIME!”. I don’t usually do that, but in this case I was pretty stoked. Dragon’s Dogma was an exceptional game back on the Xbox, but it was hamstrung by bad performance and A LOT of screen tearing. I never really noticed screen tearing… Until I played Dragon’s Dogma… It was bad, but bearable, and worth it.
Now that Capcom has released the game on PC it has none of those limitations and it truly shines because of it. After playing about twenty or so hours of the game on PC I went back and checked it out on the XBox. The only way I could describe it– is: Gross. It felt so sluggish. Everything about it was slow, and framey… I’m not usually a stickler about this kind of stuff… But the difference was night and day. It was not the game I remembered.
Anyway, I won’t go on about technical issues much, but suffice it to say: The game runs like a dream compared to the Xbox, and it also looks significantly better too, which is nice.
This is a great port, of a great game– and it runs like it should. Well.
Now on to the game proper! Dragon’s Dogma game is definitely Japanese. I mean it was released by Capcom. And you can feel the Japanese-ness in every fiber of the game. Do game’s have fibers? Anyway… Dragon’s Dogma is an Eastern take on a Western open world RPG. Ala Skyrim. And it does a very respectable job! But it’s definitely niche. I won’t lie to you and tell you this game is for everyone. Because it isn’t… But I would advise you to give it a chance.
So for the game’s sake, I’ll ask you a few questions:
Do you like fighting giant monsters? Do you like challenging boss fights? Do you like Shadow of the Colossus? Do you like having to fight tooth and nail to succeed? Seemingly accurate medieval dialog? Dragons? Magic? Monster Hunter? Fake British accents? Kimyōna Nihon no mono?
If you said hai to three of those questions– well, then do I (probably) have the game for you!
Let’s talk about the combat first, because that’s definitely the main draw of this game– unless you’re really into the weird romance side of things… Anyway… The combat is great, but it’s definitely different. You have a standard light and a heavy attack, as well as up to six different skills for each of the game’s nine classes. Yes nine.
The combat is rather simple with only a few different combos, but the variety of skills and multitude of ways to use them comes together in a very pleasant and rewarding way. Also the magic system is one of the coolest I’ve seen in a video game. Right up there with Magicka. I’ve been mentioning Magicka a lot… Maybe I should play it again.
Now it might sound intimidating that Dragon’s Dogma sports nine different classes, but it’s actually handled quite well. The game splits it’s classes, called vocations, into three types: Basic, Advanced, and Hybrid. And they sound exactly like what you would expect.
Basic vocations are your standard RPG fare: sword and board Fighter, bow and dagger Strider, and the hurt or heal Mage. Advanced Vocations are specialized versions of their basic cousins: Warrior, Ranger, Sorcerer. And of course the Hybrid vocations are… well– Hybrids. Featuring the Assassin, Magic Archer, and the Mystic Knight.
Although there is some overlap, each vocation has a large amount of unique abilities which is where they really flesh out from each other and feel different. On top of that each vocation also has a variety of class independent ‘Augments’ which provide various boons, and are unlocked as you rank up in each vocation. So play around with the vocations and see which ones you like! I really enjoy the Ranger and Mystic Knight. This game has a huge potential for Min/Maxing as well.
In addition to yourself– The Arisen, you also get a companion called a pawn. And you can also hire two additional pawns to create a party of four. And trust me party composition is quite important. If you don’t have a healer/buffer… You’re Chimera food…
Speaking of Chimeras, you face some truly difficult and abhorrent creatures in the world of Gransys. You will encounter, Cyclopes, Hydras, Wights, Wargs, Gryphons, Cockatrices, and of course Dragons! And plenty of others too!
The encounters with these creatures are almost always memorable. Without fail something unexpected will happen and it will leave an impression on you– or a deep emotional scar that will may never heal… I still remember the time my entire party was stricken with petrification and we slowly turned to stone with no hope of escape. Watching you and your party slowly harden into twisted statues and then crumble into dust is hard to forget. Trust me the monster encounters are super cool, and almost always heart pounding.
Also the fight with the Dragon is one of the coolest boss fights I have experienced in gaming. It does everything right. And despite really wanting to tell you about it, I would suggest you go in blind.
It’s so badass, though. Like if you don’t have any interest in this game atleast check it out on YouTube.
Now, I’ll leave you with a retelling of my Gryphon hunt! — but be warned it’s kinda spoilery… So if you don’t want to have advanced knowledge of said Gryphon hunt, just go buy the game! But It should be known I streamed this quest to a friend who had no idea what Dragon’s Dogma was, and he proceeded to buy it before the fight was even over.
So there’s this Gryphon, right? He’s kind of a douche. Flying around, killing people, and eating cattle. You know, standard giant monster stuff. Well, The Duke Edmond Dragon’s Bane wants this Gryphon dead. And me, being the Arisen… Well that falls upon my shoulders. So he organizes a search party to find the Gryphon, lure it down with bait, and we will ambush it and slay the beast before it can get away. Sounds like a plan.
So we spot the creature flying on the outskirts of Gran Soren, the Capital of Gransys. We gather up some Goblins, make them into corpses, and lay them out tantalizingly in a clearing overlooking the shore– in the hopes that the Gryphon will smell the corpses and come to investigate. As luck would have it, the creature took the bait, and the twelve of us descend upon the creature. Ripping and tearing. Lighting it’s wings on wire to prevent it from flying away. And trying to hold onto the beast to weigh it down.
After a vicious battle involving several aerial maneuvers, some strafing runs, copious amounts of arrows, near fatal blood loss, and at least a few dead men. The Gryphon fled to its nest to recover. Turns out fighting creatures that can fly is tough if you can’t fly either!
So the aerial terror flies off into the horizon towards the ruins of an ancient tower. We suspect that it’s nesting at the top of the ruin, and set off in order to pursue it. Which involves crossing the entirety of the realm of Gransys. Passing through forested areas, into planes and grassland, and finally in a winding canyon filled with blood-thirsty bandits! After fighting through the rogue’s camp, and nearly greeting death with open arms… We came to an opening in the canyon.
There was a massive pile of rubble that seemed out of place. Upon investigation the rubble stood up, and revealed itself to be a Golem. Animated earth, given life by magical talisman scattered across its body. Breaking said talisman being the only way to inflict damage upon a lifeless hulk of animate rock.
As it turns out Magic has no effect on the talisman. Meaning half of my party was rendered useless other than to heal us when the towering conglomerate struck us. It was up to me and Gascoigne– my pawn, to climb all over the automaton and take out the ‘life’ giving discs one at a time. Turns out despite being a cold unfeeling collection of rock, it didn’t like being murdered, and started shooting lasers out of it’s ‘mouth’ that very nearly killed me…
Eventually we succeeded… We were battered and bruised… And we hadn’t even reached the Gryphon’s nest yet.
After progressing a bit further through the canyon we found the Bluemoon Tower. A ruin very reminiscent of the tower of babel. A massive spiraling tower into the sky, or what was left of one anyway.
Turns out the Gryphon wasn’t the only thing occupying the ruins, and we had to fight tooth and nail through another band of highwaymen in order to reach the top. By the time we had made it, valiantly purging the lower rungs of the tower from such scoundrels, the sun had set and the darkness of night had griped the land. It was hard to see without a lantern, and then we found the Gryphon… Or more accurately it found us!
The avian beast cornered us on an ‘outside’ ledge of the tower between it and a closed gate that we had to tear down in order to flee! Eventually after giving chase and murdering more than a few of the soldiers present we came to the pinnacle of the ruin. A large open space with no ceiling.
In the pitch darkness the beast fell upon the remaining soldiers and shredded through them and reducing their numbers further. One of my pawns enchanted my longbow with fire, letting me loose a flurry of flaming arrows into the creature’s head and wings– setting it ablaze and causing it to reel in terror.
Now I don’t know if you’re aware but most Gryphons don’t like being on fire, so it immediately turned its attention towards me, flew into the air and tried to dive bomb me. It’s massive talons extended ready to rend my flesh and crack my bones. Luckily another flurry caused the beast to lose its equilibrium and crash into the hewn stone floor of the arena. Gascoigne, myself, and my fellow pawns began to unload our indignation upon the monstrosity. I quickly dug my daggers into it’s head and beak. Gascoigne repeatedly pierced the creature with with sword, and bludgeoned it with his shield. While the Mage and Sorcerer called down mercurial fire upon it. Raising walls of flame where it writhed, and pelting it with balls of fire.
The only light in the entire space was from the fire crashing into the beast. And roaring through the creature’s fur and feathers; while the walls of fire flanking it caused tongues of black smoke to billow into the air obscuring the creature behind the roiling inferno.
Eventually after a protracted battle the beast was felled, and our hunt was successful. Sadly of the eight or so soldiers that accompanied us. Only three survived.
Also this is only like the third big ‘boss’ in the game.
Go buy it. Right now.