Dragon’s Dogma first released on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2012, and was re-released later along with the Dark Arisen expansion. Since then it’s enjoyed a release on Steam, which is the version we see now on PS4 and Xbox One, and it’s gripped me like it never has before.
Dragon’s Dogma follows your character as their heart is torn out in a vicious dragon attack. You revive as the chosen one, known as the Arisen, and embark on a journey to slay the dragon which stole your heart. You’re quickly recognised far and wide, and you’re able to utilise human-like beings known as Pawns. The Pawn’s origins are unknown, but they journey with you and will fight to the death for you — they have no emotions and literally won’t do anything unless ordered to, and will do anything to please you.
On your adventure, you’ll visit a variety of areas and meet many people, and many of them will request favours from you that only the Arisen can fulfill. Whether or not you help them is up to you, but I would because some of them have some brilliant side-quests that take you to places you might not otherwise explore. Some side-quests pop up very early, but prepared to be caught out because some shouldn’t be tackled so early on — don’t go into that well at the start of the game, readers, because what’s down there shows no mercy.
Dragon’s Dogma is an RPG where you’ll create your character (and despair when your beautiful creation is ruined by an ugly, but high-quality, piece of armour), pick a class, and do the same for your main Pawn — the other two Pawns in your party are hired, and they’ve been created by other players. Picking a Pawn is great fun and seeing the creations of other players is wonderful, and they become a strong, valuable asset as you’re progressing through the game. Plus who doesn’t like to spend ages tinkering with characters?!
Dragon’s Dogma isn’t an easy game. Its sense of adventure and challenge is what makes the game so endearing though, and it genuinely feels as if your character is learning about the world as you learn about it too. Learning where certain races reside, where to collect materials and where to avoid until you’re much stronger is a huge part of the fun — yes, there’s plenty of trial and error to wade through, and you’ll lose your fair share of progress more than a few times, I assure you. It never feels unfair though. You’re given chances to prepare and strengthen your team, and running is always a good option. If you decide to bite off more than you can chew, Dragons’ Dogma will teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget.
A unique feature to Dragon’s Dogma is the ability to climb onto large enemies and hack at their various body parts. Of course, the enemy will try to shake you off but otherwise you’re mostly out of harm’s way, and you’re able to reach body parts you might not be able to with your chosen class otherwise. There will be moments when you, or a Pawn, will hold an enemy’s leg so that they’re momentarily pinned and open to attack. Despite having played solo, there was a huge focus on teamwork and the Pawns react in brilliant and helpful ways. All you need to do is pick your classes, equip your chosen skills and items, and work out the best possible team for your adventure across the vast expanse ahead.
Dragon’s Dogma was never a very good-looking game on older systems but it doesn’t look nearly as bad now. It won’t blow you away by any means, but it’s a much cleaner, smoother game than I’d previously known it to be. It’s easier to design characters as you want them, and admiring the art and creative enemy designs has never been easier.
A fully-realised world comes to life in Dragon’s Dogma and, considering that it’s performed quite well, I can only wonder why we haven’t seen a fully-fledged sequel yet. There is Japan-exclusive Dragon’s Dogma Online though, and that game is gorgeous. The soundtrack adds to the game’s incredible atmosphere, and its piano-led main theme is beautiful. The voice-acting is also solid but be prepared to be informed that wolves hunt in packs, because the Pawns are known for repeating themselves fairly often.
If you haven’t played Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen before, then for £19.99 you should definitely pick it up. If you’re already aware of your love for it then maybe the only thing holding you back will be that you’ve done all that there’s to do in it before, but you might be like me where you’ve not enjoyed your time with it before but find yourself enraptured with it now. There’s an incredible amount of things to do and for its price, it’s an absolute bargain. In a world where open-world games are becoming larger and more enticing, Dragon’s Dogma doesn’t fall behind and manages to wow, even now.