by David Kreinberg,
A demo has recently released for Dragon's Dogma, the hack and slash/ARPG from the team behind later entries in the Devil May Cry series. A quick playthrough gives us a pretty good idea of what to expect.
The demo has two modes; Proloque Quest and Countryside Quest. The former is an event taking place early in the main story. The latter is a quick mission on some grassy plains. The Prologue Quest has you controlling a typical knight class character, while the Countryside Quest allows the player to use a created character in the limited option Character Edit screen.
The Prologue Quest opens up with the player character and a few NPCs in a dungeon, approaching and eventually fleeing from an intimidating fire-breathing dragon. The quest covers the remainder of the dungeon, all culminating in an intense boss fight with a chimera.
The first thing to notice is the amount of options in combat. Each face button corresponds to a different attack, and the options grow when holding the shoulder buttons or jumping. Horizontal slash, vertical slash, shield slash, skyward slash; the combat definitely has the depth of a pure action game which is only made more impressive when combined with the class options. Suddenly, it doesn't feel like much of a far cry from the team's previous efforts.
Despite the combat variety, it can easily descend into typical button mashing. This could probably be chalked up to it being a demo more than anything else. The framework is down for a deep system that surpasses most W/ARPGs, and hopefully the final game's difficulty will reflect that.
Overall, the demo does its job. The potential of the combat system and character options is clearly displayed even if the difficulty isn't. Whether Capcom has a pure gem or merely a diamond in the rough on their hands remains to be seen.