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Capcom’s Unimpressive Dragon’s Dogma Demo

On some level, I’m still not exactly sure what Dragon’s Dogma is trying to be. The simple answer would be Dark Souls with faster action and a sprinkling of Shadow of the Colossus, but after playing the demo, I don’t feel convinced. With its fairly conventional character customization, familiar atmosphere and well-tread fantasy setting, it would seem on the surface to be a throwback or love letter to the genre as a whole, but its emphasis on action would also prove to be an evolution on the formula, to see what other directions the setting could be taken in, but it proves to be none of these things.

While almost distinct in its indistinctness, Dragon’s Dogma, or at least the demo, seems to at least be trying to play up the idea of making an action game out of the usual beating grounds for almost every single RPG out there. While the idea of trolling through dusty dungeons and slaying dragons as either a warrior, archer or mage isn’t totally unique by any standard, the idea of doing so with the climax and flow that RPGs often can’t afford is at least intriguing, and the Dragon’s Dogma’s demo at least does what it can to show off this higher octane emphasis in the very brief time it allows the player.

The player is given two separate and surprisingly short quests to test out the presented combat. The first is with a predetermined Fighter character with a set appearance and a small linear dungeon to plow through. The combat is easily the most distinct part of the experience, and the atmosphere is heavily reminiscent of Dark Souls, but focused on tighter controls and faster gameplay. The controls are overwhelming at first, but after a minute or two, they present themselves to be fairly commonplace and easy to grasp, placing an emphasis on a balance of offense and defense while the player looks for opportune chances to grapple opponents.

Ending on a battle with a Chimera, the time taken is short, and while complaining about free material not being long enough stinks pretty heavily of greed and entitlement, not nearly enough time is afforded to allow the player a firm grasp of the game’s fighting mechanics. When the Chimera has come and gone, it’s already time to move on to the second quest, and depending on your preferences, you may be playing an entirely new character without any time for acclimation.

Speaking of characters, the customization is perfectly functional, if actually not entirely customizable. A gender, body type and class and the character is ready on their way. Following is ‘pawn’ customization, where a soulless mannequin of what may or may not have once been a human being is given appearance according to the player’s whim. Actually, it’s simply assistant customization, but the title ‘pawn’ is a offhandedly disturbing one. Or maybe that’s just me.

The player is then shooed off to a countryside to fight a goblin ambush. I’m just kidding, it’s actually a Griffin fight. The game’s not gonna let you know that, however, until your head is buried deeply underneath the griffin’s talons as it comes crashing down on a group of adventurer skeletons that may have liquefied before the impact through sheer horror alone. Sadly, this lasts even shorter than the first segment and isn’t worthy of being a tasty morsel of an upcoming game, but rather an insultingly small crumb. It’s worth the first download if there’s room enough as is, but the short and unsatisfying of it is simply that there’s not enough here to get excited or annoyed by. When you’ve had your fill (or lack thereof), make space for dessert. I hear Fez is supposed to be pretty fun.


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