Dragon’s Dogma Demo Impressions

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Capcom is taking a step in a completely different direction with Dragon’s Dogma. For reference, let’s just call it a Dark Souls clone, because at its core, it kind of is. It’s the things stacked on top of that ideal which make it different.

I like to think of the Dark Souls approach as a hardcore, intensive, character action game. Basically, an action RPG. The first part of the demo you play a pretty basic male warrior. Through the terrible tutorials, I was led to the items menu, which isn’t very intuitive. You have your healing items, lantern, basic RPG fair, but it seems very unorganized.

The gameplay is where I was impressed. Looking past the weird controls (such as left trigger being mapped to “sheath/unsheath weapon”, which is pretty much useless), there was some very interesting combat mechanics. You have your light and heavy attacks, a grab which allows you to latch onto enemies, and a jump, but you can change these buttons by holding down the left and right bumpers, which drastically changes your stances.

For example, the soldier class you start off with has a sword and a shield. By holding down the left bumper, my shield became dominant, and my attacks changed to different types of bashes with my shield. From here, I could knock back enemies, stunning them, so I could switch stances and use my sword for a finishing strike. By holding down the right bumper, I swapped up into a strong and fast stance, where I could jump back and forth and deliver devastating attacks, as well as attack flying enemies that I might face.

The stance changes are very dramatic, and with different secondary weapons equipped, can really mix things up. The latter part of the demo featured a swifter character equipped with knives and a bow. When holding left bumper, I jumped in with my bow, and could shoot arrows up to rain down fire, or shoot three arrows at the time. When fighting the flying griffin, jumping between using the bow and using your daggers was essential. Not only that, it was fun. Its like being able to jump between two completely different characters with the touch of a button.
As far as looks go, Dragon’s Dogma looks good, but hasn’t blown me away. The most impressive spectacle I saw was toward the beginning of the demo when a giant dragon launched a fireball the decimated a cliffside. Some other impressive things included a chimera chasing me down and flying on the back of a griffin while attacking it.

The game also features a party system composed of “pawns”. All your pawns you create yourself, as well as your own character. The AI was actually pretty impressive, holding down enemies so I could attack them, and healing me when I requested it. Apparently you’ll be able to create pawns and put them online for others to download.

The game definitely shows some promise, but going off the demo is no way to judge it. I liked what I saw, and I am excited to see more. It’s available now on Xbox Live and PSN, so go check it out yourself.  Expect more on Dragon’s Dogma come its release mid-May.

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Alex O'Neill
Author: Alex O'Neill View all posts by
Alex is the Editor-in-Chief, overlord, and overall master of Irrational Passions. He loves Zelda, Persona 4 Golden is his favorite game ever, and he is going to write for IGN.com some day.

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