Dragon’s Dogma is a 3rd person RPG in where we take on the role of an Arisen, a being that has had his heart torn out by a dragon and are thus destined to face it again to try to reclaim it. Dragons are far from your only foes as the land is filled with other giant beasts that would love nothing more than to feast on you. You start off the game as a male Warrior Arisen that is on his way to face the dragon and this area serves as the tutorial. It shows off the mechanics of the game the game such as Lanterns to stave off the dark in caverns and will soon throw you right into the lion’s den to learn through necessity. It is a cool way to start the game and shows off exactly what you can expect from it. After this sequence you are now able to build your character be they male or female and customize them to your liking. The really neat thing is that weight and height matter as skinnier folks will be pushed around by strong gusts of winds while fatter ones can easily traverse through it. Changes you make to your Arisen are noticeable and makes every character feel unique.
After the initial sequence with the character you built you will now be able to choose from one of three classes which are the typical Stryder (rouge), Mage or Warrior classes though more will be unlocked later on. Pretty soon you will also be able to make a Pawn which is the only party member you can fully customize. The other two members of your party will be other players Pawns that do not level up with you and are often times made to appear very weird. Them not leveling up means that you will constantly be swapping them out for newer, higher level pawns. They can either be found wandering around the land or you can enter a Rift Stone to hold an audition and choose whichever pawn catches your eye. Having unique player created pawns roam the land is a really smart way to keep the areas from being nothing but enemies and barren lands. Your main pawn may also be hired by other players and in the process learn how to properly fight certain creatures, learn about unexplored lands and come back with items. When your pawn returns from being hired it will come back with some Rift Crystals which is a currency that is pretty much useless until you reach the DLC area. It has a very MMO like feel to it in that your party members are very greedy and will not stop talking.
Pawns will shout the same things over and over again which drove me insane, though luckily you can turn off pawn chatter in the options menu making them much more bearable. You may miss out on the pawn pointing out a few useful things but by the time they finally do say something of use it is likely you would have already snapped and threw your party members down a cliff. There is a button dedicated to picking up and throwing objects and it is a ton of fun. From flinging a vase at a random person to picking up your dying pawn and running to safety as a giant monster gives chase it just adds a lot to the amount of things you can experiment with. Not all places will be tolerant of you throwing random people down a flight of stairs and you will get immediately arrested by a guard with no option to run or fight. You will be teleported to the cells with nothing but prison rags and must pay 5000 gold to be released or you can escape by having a few skeleton keys and finding the secret exit. No matter the crime it will be 5000 gold so feel free to throw The Duke off a balcony without fear of a massive fine. Luckily money is very easy to come by in this game and 5k of gold is chump change allowing you to harass the citizens of that city and jump from rooftop to rooftop trying to avoid the guards that magically teleport you to prison once they catch you.
People that are normal, unlike myself, will want to be going on quests and leveling up your character. There are plenty of side quests to take on but sadly most of them are plain tedious or boring. Your quest log will quickly fill up with pointless quests like killing a certain number of creature or collect certain amount of materials. Worse still are the ton of escort missions that have you walk across the map and protect someone which are massively time consuming. Monsters respawn so even if you just came through there it will be filled right back up with enemies to fight. Main quests don’t fare much better and are also more than content to artificially lengthen themselves with pointless tasks. The story is barebones and uninteresting as well so that won’t be a driving point. There is very little loot to keep you interested, leveling up seems to do nothing but give you a bit more health and it doesn’t take too long to max out your class, leaving pretty much no incentive to push forward other than to see what new giant monster awaits.
This all only applies to the base game since the DLC area called Bitterblack Isle fixes all these issues such as no boring pointless quests, plenty of cool loot and it even has a semi interesting, self-contained story to boot. Going deeper and deeper down the dungeon is such a forbidding feeling since this game features a unique inventory system in where everything you pick up weighs something and the more you carry the slower you get. It is a really neat system that makes you think about what you take and if you are willing to sacrifice loot in order to be quicker on your feet against whatever deadly foe awaits. You could either stock up on life potions or only take the bare minimum as to more easily avoid taking damage in the first place. The base game has plenty of inns where you can store your stuff but in this the dungeon in the DLC is massive with only a few places to stock up and far deadlier than anything previously encountered. Capcom pulled a Ghosts and Goblins here and you must complete the dungeon twice in order to see the real ending. In the base game you have a decently sized open world with a full day and night system. At night zombies and other more powerful creatures roam the land and you must use your lantern in order to see anything. It is very immersive and spells really shine in this setting as they cast off light and cuts through the darkness in a spectacular matter. Makes it hard to see what is going on but that only serves to add to the chaotic feel of fighting in the darkness with nothing but a dimly lit lantern keeping the dark at bay.
To fast travel you must first find a “port crystal” then set it in a place you are likely to need to go back to and use a “ferrystone” to travel to the places you set them in. It is a genius way to get you to explore the land they designed as well as making it all the more satisfying when you build a decent fast travel system. Weather does not change sadly making the strong wind gimmick exclusive to a tiny area on the map. Running around uses up stamina so it is best to not let it get to low or you will be out of breath and nearly defenseless if you were to get ambushed. Skills use up stamina and so does the awesome mechanic of clinging on to a giant monster. While other games will simply have you hack at the ankles of a giant until it dies, Dragon’s Dogma has you attempting to climb up a rampaging monster and finding a spot that causes more damage while hoping against hope your stamina doesn’t run dry or getting smacked off of it and right down towards a fatal fall if you are unlucky. This game is not friendly and you will face creatures far superior to you in a desperate fight for survival and that is where this game truly shines like no other. The story, characters and quests may be boring but that thrill when you spot a foe that could easily kill you just by sneezing in your general direction yet you stubbornly remain and unsheathe your sword is one not to be missed.