Capcom took a risk with their new IP Dragons Dogma and it turns out that risk was worth it.
Dragons Dogma takes inspiration from many different genres and combines them to make one of the best open world rpgs released in 2012. With its main competitors being Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Dragons Dogma had to shine enough to distinguish itself from the crowd. It did that and more. Dragons Dogma is an open world rpg with combat similar to action games such as the Devil May Cry series. The player is greatly encouraged to explore the vast world in Dragons Dogma as there are many different items to find as well as creatures and other enemy types to engage in combat with. There are also many quests including main and sidequests that take the player to different locations throughout the world and reward the player with currency as well as a variety of different items. Through defeating enemies and completing quests the characters in the players party gain experience towards leveling up as well as experience towards increasing the chosen vocations (class) rank which allows the character to purchase a wide variety of different skills and passives which are mostly different for each vocation. The players party consists of the main character which is created from a large pool of customization options, a main pawn which the player creates and two hired pawns. The two hired pawns are obtained by either hiring pawns who wander the roads between and in towns and locations or through the “Rift”. The Rift allows the player to hire pawns that others who play Dragons Dogma have created which appear in the area so that the player can observe their stats and equipment. While initially the player can just choose a random pawn and get through the game with some ease, the player will soon develop their party in a way that compliments their play style paying attention to what skills and passives are set as well as the equipment worn by the pawn which is key to getting through some of the more difficult battles late in the game. The Rift allows the player some control over what pawns are summoned through a basic search and filter function. Rift crystals are the currency used when summoning pawns. While summoning pawns of the same or near level of the main character does not cost much rift crystals, hiring pawns of a vastly higher level can become quite costly. There is also a deep crafting system that allows the player to create different items as well as improve equipment with the large variety of items and materials found in the world and collected from defeated enemies.
Combat in Dragons Dogma takes place in real time and is most similar to action games with combos, different action skills, and movements making a huge impact on how successful a fight goes. There is also a climbing mechanic that allows the player to climb onto the larger enemies and target specific areas such as the arm of an ogre to make them drop their weapon. Hitting an enemy in different locations has different effects such as knocking an enemy off balance giving the party an opening to attack. The spell casting in the game is quite different however as there is a casting time, though the spells tend to be very powerful with some of the higher level spells calling great spikes of ice from the ground to launch enemies. Elements have a huge impact on fights with different elements effecting different enemies for great effect and while some weapons are already enchanted with an element, the majority of the time the player will need a caster with the desired enchanting abilities. A day/night cycle changes what enemies are faced with night time having more powerful foes to go up against. Overall the combat system is quite deep and the AI, for the most part, works exceptionally well in aiding the player in taking down foes even going so far as to hold enemies in place so the player can get that massively damaging blow.
The Graphics in Dragons Dogma are exceptional with great detail put into the world, its inhabitants and the items in the game. Each piece of equipment looks different from another with many pieces of equipment looking quite awesome. Just about every area looks great and with a day/night cycle that greatly impacts the look and feel of the environment does a great job engaging the player in the world. At night, as well as in dark caves and catacombs the use of a lantern is necessary as it is truly very difficult to see very far ahead. The graphics and lighting do a great job in creating tense moments as the player could run into a powerful enemy at any moment if they are not careful. Sound design is also exceptional. Each enemy has a distinct sound associated with it such as the roar of a chimera or the excited speech of a goblin and eventually the player will know what is ahead of them simply by listening.
The story in Dragons Dogma is a decent motivator to continue the main questline. The story involves the Arisen and their quest to retake something important that was stolen from them. While there are some confusing developments late in the game, overall the story is good till the end.
Dragons Dogma is a great first entry of a new IP that successfully combines many different gameplay mechanics, great graphics and great sound into one of the best open world rpgs released in 2012. With extensive post game replay value there is a lot to enjoy in Dragons Dogma.