Dragon’s Dogma

Yup. Add me to the list of “Play me again in a year” games….

Bored, at home, sick with flu for a week so I go through my collection to review some games to replay. Dragon’s Dogma? I don’t remember much of this game. Cue, 1 week later and I have a level 40 character, I’m deep rooted within the world and lore of the Dragon’s Dogma universe and my iPad has all the wiki’s on perma-open.

So what sets this aside from the Skyrim’s, Witcher’s and Dark Souls? It’s actually got a lot in common with the latter. It’s hard, especially from the beginning. And there’ll be times where you’ll want to throw your controller in the screen as you restart for the 20th time trying to get past a bunch of enemy archers who should not be this hard. But you do. And you keep trying.

It has a unique ‘pawn’ system, which are essentially your helper NPC characters who you can hire. As well as your own pawn, you can also recruit two more pawns from other Xbox Live players across the world. They all have their own stats, classes and strengths so you can tailor your team to complement your own skills.

It’s a rewarding mechanism and despite some irritating AI deficiencies, generally it’s a fantastic model. Unlike most other games, it’s similar to Shadow of Colossus where the world is inhabited not just by NPC’s and humanoid baddies, but also by huge monsters that can sometimes take up to an hour to take down.

It’s not a hugely open world, but they make it more exploratory by removing any simple Skyrim type fast-travel option, forcing you to often traverse through the same paths, repeatedly to the point of tedium. It is a sore point for me as I think I’ve had enough of it.

It’s exacerbated by the fact that it has a functional night and day system, with night-times becoming almost black and blinded and monsters coming out of the woodwork with renewed vigour. You cannot travel from one point of the map to the other in one single day time shift, meaning eventually, it gets dark and your journey is encumbered by constant combat interruption.

Which, ironically, brings us to the strength of the game. Dark Souls was mentioned earlier because it also has a similarly rewarding combat system. Sword slashes connect, spells explode and when you do big damage, it feels it. The first time I cast Seism, I had a positive smile across my face as it felt like I was in charge of some proper power.

It’s a great game, some good balance, great combat and beautiful visuals – some of the monsters are breathtakingly designed. Does it have longevity? I’m not so sure. Ask me again if I open it up again next year.

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