What if Skyrim had the challenge of Dark Souls?

You’d probably end up with something similar to Capcom’s latest westernized RPG, Dragon’s Dogma. I know it released almost 2 months ago, but I finally found time to get started in the world of Gransys with my Arisen and so far I’m having a blast with the combat system and getting my ass kicked traveling off the beaten path.

I played the demo and blew through it without much of a challenge, so it was a bit of a surprise to me how much the difficulty spiked once you end up at the first quest hub. I’ve run in to monsters and bandits while questing that blow through my party like it’s 1999 just because I strayed too far from the road. I honestly like that it doesn’t hold my hand while adventuring out. It’s that same element of surprise and tension that I loved so much about Dark Souls. No one is there to tell you “yeah, by the way, there is a giant cyclops waiting for you up the road and he wants to make you his power bottom” so it’s all just trial and error.

Another thing I’m really enjoying is the thing that sets Dragon’s Dogma apart from any other RPG, the Pawn system. Not only can I head in to the Rift and choose out which Pawns I want to recruit, but other players Pawns will wander your world, roam around town, hang out at inns and walk around the open world for you to walk up to and recruit right then and there. They’re also pretty bright when it comes to fighting monsters, looting and calling out enemy weaknesses.

I’ve already had my Fighter Pawn recruited out 2 or 3 times and they always come back with useful items and information about monster weaknesses and landmark locations. One thing I didn’t notice at first was that Pawns don’t scale with your level, so the level 4 Ranger I recruited at the beginning of the game started dropping like a rock when my main Pawn and I were sitting around level 13.

Right now I’m hitting the 7 hour mark with Dragon’s Dogma and my only complaint is the lack of story. After playing the prologue chapter from the demo, I created my Arisen, swung a rusty sword at a Dragon and had my heart eaten. Everything the dragon said during the cutscene was in draconic so I had no idea what was going on. Apparently, from what I gathered by talking to the townsfolk, I have to kill the dragon to get my heart back. Ooookay.

Thankfully the game has a great combat system and some really slick boss encounters to make up for the slow pacing of the plot. One of the earlier boss fights pits you against four massive snakes which chase you around an encampment and wrap themselves around a guard tower before crushing it to pieces. The attention to detail was awesome with the snakes coiling in and out of the tower rungs fluidly during combat, really giving the fight an epic feel. After killing off one of the snakes, the others retreat and you’re lead in to an escort quest where you’re guarding the snakes head being lead to the king as a trophy, all the while being attacked by wolves, harpies and goblins.

Check out the snake fight below!

I definitely look forward to getting my ass kicked a little more tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll do a little more winning than I did today.

P.S. – I have no idea why the intro song is so damn catchy. I like some J-rock, mostly the visual kei era stuff, but something like this would usually be deemed corny. I can’t get it out of my head like it’s Call Me Maybe.

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