You really missed out. A lot of you did. Dragon’s Dogma was right there, ready to take the gaming world by storm as the finest action RPG ever imagined. But you missed it. I’m not going to lie: the first time around, I missed it, too. But, when the game was re-released with its awesome Dark Arisen expansion, I took the leap of faith and never looked back. This game was good. Really good. Dragon’s Dogma, I’m sorry that I never looked your way before, and I hope you will forgive me. Dragon’s Dogma was one of last gen’s best games, and shame on you if you happened to miss it.
On the surface, one might think that this was just another western RPG that would never live up to the hype of, say, The Elder Scrolls or the Witcher. In reality, Dogma is nothing like those games, and honestly, its all the better for it. While sporting a western fantasy look, the game has Japanese roots, as it was created by Capcom (Street Fighter, Resident Evil, etc.). Typically, you would probably expect more traditional JRPG/anime stuff (Still want another Breath of Fire, Capcom), but Dragon’s Dogma looked to do things a bit differently, and really helped it stand out among an already niche genre.
This open world fantasy places you as the game’s hero, who is confronted by a dragon, labeled as the chosen one (of course), and then has his/her heart ripped out (okay, that’s different). Now heartless (sorry Kingdom Hearts), your hero awakens, and is given the apt title of “Arisen” and ventures off on a quest to confront the dragon that took your heart (unromantically, of course..maybe). From there, you go on an epic adventure with a story that I can’t bother to remember beyond that point. But the story is not even close to being the reason why this game was so darn good.
Dogma included a pawn system, which allowed you to create and recruit NPC companions that fight alongside you. And while there was no real multiplayer to speak of in this game, you were able to download other pawns from your friends that were smart enough to play this game. Unlike most game’s npcs, pawns were often more helpful than not, and would give you hints when fighting bosses, or repeat lines over and over that would prove comical before long.
And the battle system. Lawd have mercy, that battle system is so good. Being made by some of the same people that created combo heavy action games like Devil May Cry, fighting skills are definitely not taken for granted in this adventure. Your Arisen is completely BA, able to dish out powerful attacks and mount even the hugest beast and bring them down to their knees. And nothing makes you feel more heroic than when you’ve got a boss down to low health and then the most delicious battle theme known to man kicks in. Check this battle for instance (epic music starts @ 1:41):
See? Totally BA. And once that mammoth finally falls, you can hop off and do the slo-mo walk towards the screen like the champ that you are.
It will definitely take some work to make it to your heart snatching dragon nemesis, though. The game is no cakewalk, with most enemies providing a sizeable challenge. And be careful if you venture off at night during the game, as enemies are a lot more ferocious to go along with the limited visibility nighttime adventuring provides. Once you’ve gotten far enough, you’ll then have the option to tackle the Dark Arisen expansion, which is even better than the base game and manages to kick things up even higher in the difficulty department. Overall though, while the game is challenging, it isn’t brutally so…most of the time. Difficulty-wise, Dogma is a lot more fair than Dark Souls and brings with it a heaping spoonful of Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden swordplay and a little bit of Monster Hunter thrown in for good measure.
More To Come?
Despite a strong cult following, Dogma didn’t sell a ton of copies across the PS3 and Xbox 360, and a sequel doesn’t seem to be in the immediate plans for Capcom. However, they did just recently release a PC version for Dark Arisen, and a Dragon’s Dogma Online has been set for Japan. So, if nothing else, there does seem to be SOME interest from Capcom to keep this IP alive. Still, a true sequel to the original would probably be the most preferred game for fans. While the game had some issues, like a mostly forgettable story and some performance hiccups, it did more than enough great things to really rise above the negatives and become a building block for potential greatness in the future. If you still have a PS3 or 360, the game can be found either physically or digitally for pretty cheap these days. Even though you may missed it the first time around, the chance is there to redeem yourself, and become the Arisen you were meant to be. And, if by chance Capcom decides to really do that sequel, hopefully you’ll be standing right there in line with me on release day to pledge your aliegance, and your money, to the new Arisen.