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For the past two weeks, my life has basically been a spiral. When I’m not working on content here, I’m usually burying my face in Dragon’s Dogma 2. While people have tried to incorrectly frame this game as some bizarrely monstrous cashgrab, it’s anything but- rather than the greedy jerk, this game is the misunderstood beauty, who also happens to be a sadistic jerk.

A Lesson In Failure

Dragon's Dogma 2

The core of Dragon’s Dogma 2’s gameplay is one rarely echoed outside of CRPGs- one that failure can be entertaining. It’s Disco Elysium taken to a new extreme, since while the CRPG is built with multiple playthroughs in mind, Dragon’s Dogma 2 has no such ability to let you jump between save files.

For example: in the neighboring country of Battahl, I’ve just indirectly commited regicide. Under my watch, I was made to look for a potential assassin for the Empress, and I failed. My only two details to go on were an arm injury and a hairstyle, and as I perused each of the NPCs in the room the real one had reduced the empress to a Family Guy death pose. I thought I’d get a do-over- but no, all I get is an awkward room with two NPCs asking how the hell I let someone sneak up on the Empress.

Dragon's Dogma 2
The Pawn system remains to this day one of the most clever inventions of the Dragon’s Dogma series, as your companions learn new things by going into other people’s games

This keeps happening, too- because I was more obsessed with dueling a Drake over the span of an in-game week I got a servant executed for losing his master’s orb, I never got to the bottom of who was stalking me in town and, most importantly, I fumbled a hot courtesan because I didn’t spend enough money on prostitutes.

And yet, the game goes on. The game will make you play through so much worse, too- there’s the now-infamous story of Dragon’s Plague, where your pawns will lose control and go on a killing spree in the middle of the night. It’s such a bold play by the game itself, giving you so many tools to shoot yourself in the foot with only to say “Still, you can bounce back from this”.

Whether or not you actually can remains to be seen- but apparently Hideaki Itsuno and team believe in me, and that’s kind of reassuring, all things considered.

Stay In The Game

I think part of the key design ethos you see in Dragon’s Dogma 2 is an urge to reduce time spent in game-y systems like menus. single saves, extremely cumbersome fast travel, the Pawn system, all of these are things you experience by interacting with the game world itself rather than through series of menus.

Dragon's Dogma 2
Get used to rotating your Pawns out regularly to suit your needs

It’s really thrilling that more often than not, the quest menu has little to nothing in it for you. Instead, you have to grab a pawn who knows about the quest. NPC ran away from home? This Beastren Thief I hired has an inkling of where she’d be. Looking for more Riftstones? Pawns with otherworldly experience will point you to them too.

It does such a good job of keeping you in the world. Dragon’s Dogma 2 embraces so much of the fun of RPGs- the ability to experiment with things in its big physics simulation world and add them as funny little bookmarks to your adventure. From monsters swooping down to ruin your oxcart travels to even somehow making their way into town there’s just so many interesting cards in this game’s deck, you can’t help but forego the main story just to see it all unfold here.

Dragon's Dogma 2
Monster Hunter style Turf wars are always cool to watch

Of course, Dragon’s Dogma 2’s success isn’t all high-concept. There’s also the fact that it’s a really good action-RPG. While even I’ve originally mistaken it for a Souls-like at first, its combat is way more similar to something like Monster Hunter but with a greater focus on creativity. It’s not just about doing combos, it’s also about recognizing opportunities- Pawns can launch you in the air, or you can even grab on to flying monsters at the end of your own big attacks to keep up your offense.

Dragon’s Dogma 2: A Weird But Delectable Treat

Dragon's Dogma 2
Yes, I’m including the meat video. It’s just so quirky I couldn’t bear not to

All in all, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the cure for anyone who complains games might be starting to stagnate. It’s unlike anything else available now, and is sure to make you think about how much control your other RPGs are really giving you.

Its only complaint comes from just how indulgent it is- you’re embracing friction because that’s what this game demands of you, and even the most avant-garde of palates is going to eventually scream when they realize they need to roll back to their Inn Save at the cost of three hours progress.

Still, if you want a wild RPG that’s always got something cool around the corner for you, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is the game you’re looking for. Sure, a lot of its biggest innovations are technically from a decade-old game, but it’s been polished to a mirror shine now and absolutely deserves your attention in this outing.

Final Score: 9/10

Game reviewed on PS5. Review code provided by publisher

W. Amirul Adlan
Nmia Gaming – Editor W. Amirul Adlan