It is undeniable fact that dragons are awesome. The sheer notion of fighting one can reduce mere mortals to tears. Dragons have been popular in lots of media lately, with the Game of Thrones trio and the Hobbit’s Smaug leading the way, but when it comes to video games there is one game that stands out, to me, as the far and away clear winner.
Dragon’s Dogma was released by Capcom in 2012, and from the first time I played it I was hooked. After utilising one of the best character creation suites I have ever seen, the opening segment has you face off against a monstrous dragon… who promptly stomps your shit and rips your heart out, leaving you to die on the beach. Yeah, it’s that kind of game. The rest of the plot is a (I’m not adverse to saying) rather generic and lackluster revenge story (or is it, DUN DUN DUN), but is the means that justify the end (though I pity the fool who thinks that the story is going to end with the death of a dragon). Seriously, the direction the story takes is the best kinf of mindsplosion, but I’m not going to spoil the masterpiece here.
It used to be that the last thing to be praised in an RPG was the combat. However, Dragon’s Dogma provides such varied approach from each of it’s vocations it is a joy to play through the story, whatever your style may be. I first attempted to reclaim my stolen ventricles as a Strider, a sort of Legolas-type Archer/knife user. Following playthroughs were spent on the viscious magic classes, and even the in-between class of Magic Archer, but upon discovering the mighty greatsword wielding Warrior class I never looked back (this was also the start of my love of BFSs, – big fucking swords).
The various skills available for each vocation are a beauty to behold, and the magic use in Dragon’s Dogma has not be surpassed in any game since. The first time you open the skies to rain meteors on your opponents, or whisk them away on that back of a pitch black tornado you will never be satisfied with magic that comes as anything less. The numerous weapon skills are also a genuine pleasure, with abilities such as Thousand Kisses (or death by a thousand cuts, if you like) for the knife users, or my personal favourite Arc of Deliverance for the two-handed weapon Warriors.
The enemies around range from the standard bandits and wolves (which hunt in packs, as you will learn – that’s a bit on a hilarious in joke. Play the game to find out more!) to the more powerful cyclopes, ogres and griffins. And then, of course, the titular dragon will surely make an appearance. Pad that out with goblins and evil wizards and you know you are always in for a battle you’ll need to think about, rather than just charge in. And always remember, there are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the earth.
Although there is no conventional multiplayer (split screen or online) there is still a type of multiplayer. Early in the game, you get to create a sidekick (called a pawn) whom will be with you for the rest of the game. As the main character, you are able to summon up to two other companions, from the pool of sidekicks that other real-life players have made, essentially walking around with another person’s sidekick, as well as your own. Your various pawns are able to learn battle tactics from how you play, and once dismissed will keep these newly acquired skills in their host’s game. Basically, you want to pimp out your pawn as much as you can, so making them particularly attractive or powerful is a good idea.
Roughly a year after Dragon’s Dogma was released, an updated version of the game, much like an old school expansion pack, was released entitled Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. This game added many new features to fix some complaints from the main game (such as a lack of easy fast travel), as well as new HD textures and several non-English voice packs, as well as dozens of new weapons, armour pieces and quests. And an entire new god damn area. Which was basically hell. The good kind of hell. The incredibly-difficult-but-incredibly-rewarding kind of hell.
I could talk forever about the amazing experiences I have had in Dragon’s Dogma, or the characters I have created, or even the other pawns I have rented to help me in my journey. This game alst doubles as a ‘hidden gem’ of the previous gem, because god dammit not nearly enough people know about it. The full game and expansion is like $30 or less, so there is no excuse not to experience the best RPG I have played in a long time, and even since.
Oh, and the Dragon’s name is Grigori. How cool is that?!