independent

Tuesday 17 September 2019

RPG enjoyable in its own way

WITH CHRIS HAYES

FOR FANS of Skyrim or Dragon Age that may have gotten a tad bored, Dragon's Dogma may just be for you. Maybe.

Would you be interested in recruiting a party from a cast of characters crafted by other players? Or perhaps meandering through a bland landscape, struggling to land blows on your targets tickles your fancy?

Unfortunately, for everything Dragon's Dogma gets right, there are two or three things going very wrong. If you have the patience, however, to wade through the frustrating bits, there are many hidden gems that make this game a solid action RPG.

The story starts off with a bang: A huge red dragon attacks your village and just when you think it's going to finish you off, it snatches out your still-beating heart, mutters some words, gobbles it down, and flies away. Despite the massive chest trauma, you do not die, and the people of the village call you Arisen, believing you are the only one who can defeat the dragon. It's a fresh twist on the admittedly tired trope of a player character with a destiny.

When you are in the right area at the right time, the third-person combat action is enjoyable.

The targeting is a problem, though. You can aim timed spells or attacks with a big circular reticule, but quick abilities will hit the wrong target often as the game tries to determine where you should attack. Success depends on mixing up your light and heavy attacks with the weapon skills you unlock through gaining levels, and there's more than enough customization with specialties, hybrid-classes and upgradable builds to keep the strategist in you happy.

The battles against huge ogres, cyclopes, gryphons and chimeras are really exciting at first. You can climb up the limbs of these beasts to strike at their squishy bits, which does add some realism to taking down such huge creatures. But even after you figure out a strategy to defeat them, it just takes far too long to whittle down their huge HP bar. There's only so much novelty you get from climbing up a golem's legs and endlessly gobbling curative items when he tosses you around like a side of ham.

Dragon's Dogma is a true open world RPG that, while not being anywhere near the scale and breadth of Skyrim, is still enjoyable in its own little way. A recommendation for only the most hardcore of RPG fans.

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