There’s so much good stuff going on in Dragon’s Dogma, an expansive, immersive RPG from Japanese powerhouse Capcom, that it’s almost a little bewildering why the game isn’t garnering more praise. It’s got a decent storyline, with players cast as a warrior destined to do battle with the dragon that ripped out his/her heart during an attack. It’s got a lush, verdant world, populated with interesting characters (albeit, still laboring under the tried-and-tested ‘Ye Olde World’ accent) and a variety of enemies, all set against stunningly imaginative backdrops. It also boasts a unique system of non-playable companion characters – called pawns – created by gamers, and then ‘lent out’ online during your console’s downtime so that they might gain experience and knowledge that might help you later. The combat system and sorcery controls are sufficiently robust and, though the leveling up system is clunky and confusing on occasion, it’s by no means the worst example of a game laboring under the weight of its own statistics.
What Dragon’s Dogma lacks is any sense of game-changing innovation. The pawn system is nice, but little more than a useful gimmick. Every other aspect of the game, while well-designed and implemented, has been seen a thousand times before, and while Capcom have excelled in creating a game that feels sufficiently big and immersive, there’s a sense that people who love games like this will know what they’re in for – and be eminently satisfied. But if fantasy games of lore and conquest don’t already do it for you, there’s little here to coax you out of your comfort zone. Dragon’s Dogma is not the kind of game that many people will take a gamble on. It does exactly what you’d expect. And it does it very, very well.