I Am Error: Dragon’s Dogma
|June 20, 2012||Posted by S.A.Perkins under I Am Error|
Dragon’s Dogma is an open world RPG from Capcom, who also developed Monster Hunter and the Resident Evil series – two of my favourite game series ever. Dragon’s Dogma consists of your standard open world affair and your mostly generic RPG plot, but it has a few mechanics and components that make it stand out from the crowd, despite a few kinks that need to be worked out. In classic game-critic fashion, I’m going highlight all of those flaws and laugh mercilessly as Capcom try to hide their shame. If you haven’t guessed, I have ideas far, far above my station.
Dragon’s Dogma starts as you would expect; you begin in the shoes of a peasant villager who lives a normal life and has a terrible set of clothing – not even kidding, it looked hideous and completely clashed with my guy’s hair – and then, just when you’re about to seduce the girl who clearly wants to hop on for a good ride (yet oddly enough calls you cousin just like everyone else), a great big dragon arrives and ruins the moment. Serious, scaly cock-block. You decide to fight the thing, and foolishly so considering the way the trained knights just ran for it, and the dragon turns you into an entrée when it plucks out your heart and eats it. All seems to be over (or not, if you’ve read the back of the box, the manual, or any of the adverts) but you awaken and are proclaimed to be the Arisen, a fabled hero destined to kill the dragon, which is terribly evil and needs to be sorted out.
Just once, I’d love to have dragons be the nice guys. Seriously, in every game you end up killing them. World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Fire Emblem, Monster Hunter… honestly, I don’t know what societies in the middle ages had against dragons but I think if they had been a little more conservationist with them we might be riding dragons to work now. Think about how damn awesome that image is. Yet you don’t just get dragons. In fact, I’m a good few hours into the game now and I have encountered only one lesser dragon, which pounded me so hard I think I became a woman. Really. Instead, the weaker fare comes in the form of lizard-men, ogres, goblins; your usual RPG monsters. It does leave much to be desired given that every other RPG ever has these kinds of enemies, but it does allow you to butcher them in new, exciting ways. If confronted with large enemies, you can clamber over them and stab them in weak areas or hold them back as they try to grab you. Now, this does create some issue with controls, because sometimes I had to grab a handful of ogre ass-cheek to try to climb up to its head and wound up shoving my face into its crotch and jiggling up and down as it stumbled forward (yes, it is a disturbing image, trust me), but when it works it’s a fun little system. With smaller enemies, such as harpies, you can grab them and either drag them to the ground or hold them in place for your AI support characters to deal with, and it does create some nice little teamwork mechanics that make you realise your companions are there for a reason.
Quest-wise, there’s nothing here to be desired. The game fulfils the expected “kill this, find this, escort this” kind of quest system that really does endanger the world by distracting the important hero with inane rubbish, but the quests are interesting enough to make you play through them, especially some of the proper ones, which cause you to explore hidden dungeons and kill monsters you might not have expected to find. Unfortunately, there is no “this quest is too hard for you” message in any way, meaning that often you’ll take a quest, head off to complete it and then discover to your woe that a six-headed hydra is sitting in your way with the dined-on corpses of previous misinformed adventurers littering its lair. Not fair, but it does encourage you to level up a lot and explore. You can flee from enemies, and the game reminds you all the time that there is no shame in fleeing from stronger foes, but to be honest I always think: “Nay, I am a man, and I shall stand my- OH MY GOD MY FACE, YOU’VE EATEN MY FACE!”
As I said before, there is the standard clichéd story affair, at least until it sort of… vanishes. I haven’t played far enough to see if the main dragon becomes a driving focus once again, but to be honest it just gets forgotten about. In fact, it was mentioned all of once when I reached the capital and someone said there was a hunt on to kill the dragon. That was it. If you could see some extracts from the Arisen’s journal, I think it would read something like:
Got my heart eaten by a dragon, but woke up just fine, so my mum must have been right when she told me that eating fruit and veg would keep me strong! Decided to go on an adventure, and apparently no one thought not to let a man who had been dead 10 minutes ago waltz out of the gates.
A random butt-ugly man called Rook appeared out of nowhere after I finished dressing myself in the armoury and told me to follow him to an encampment of mindless slave-people called Pawns. Never one to pass up an opportunity for cheap labour, I decided to follow this very trustworthy and obviously not evil man through the forest.
My Pawn told me to head for the capital, as did several people who insisted I had some kind of destiny, but I decided not to bother, and took up a job on the local notice board to kill five chickens. I have no idea why, but what the hell, easy money. Later, I was asked to investigate a creepy well for a scared guard, and found out it contained a nest of lizard people. While Rook was getting his face chewed off, I managed to get out of there. He will be missed.
After handing in my last notice board quest, which asked me to kill some goblins, I stumbled on an ogre casually entertaining some harpies. Obviously that ogre was evil and had killed some poor innocent family, so I acted on initiative and attacked. I got a quest in the middle of the fight called “Ambush” but I wasn’t sure who was ambushing who, so I killed the ogre anyway. Unfortunately my Pawn made an attempt to grab the ogres arse and was crushed between his butt cheeks. Good thing I can just recruit someone else’s, right?
Happened to be passing through the capital and someone mentioned the dragon. I had completely forgotten about the dragon. I decided to ignore the man completely and take up a quest to escort an old bloke to a ruined castle, which is obviously more important for protecting the world. Who ever heard about a dragon destroying the world? That’s just silly.
The story could do with some improvements, but I nevertheless found myself getting sucked in. It’s not a bad game, and there’s always a hint of story in each quest, so you at least feel like you’re doing something good.
The Pawn system is the thing about this game that stands out the most, though. You create a Pawn, which is yours and unique; you decide their class, their appearance, everything. They’ll always adventure with you, but you can also recruit two Pawns, either computer generated or Pawns of other players. You can also whore off your Pawn – I mean, send off your Pawn to be recruited by other players, and they’ll come back with some juicy goods for you, like materials or curatives, just like a good wh- companion (see Firefly). It feels a little like slavery, or pimping, but once I realised I got free stuff out of it I honestly stopped caring. I would have made a dark joke about bruises and whip marks, but I don’t think I’m ready to go there just yet.
The combat could feel somewhat meatier – your sword strokes feel and look as though they are more passing through enemies than connecting with them – and the story is somewhat defunct, but overall Dragon’s Dogma is an enjoyable experience for any RPG fan, especially one with a love for the open world. Just remember that there is no quick travel function. I don’t know what sadistic bastard left that out, but I will find them and I will kill them.