If you’ve seen our previous instalment in the series of: ‘Alex playing anime games without having any idea what’s going on’, you may have an idea about how I went into Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. I had already begun on my life enriching anime journey by playing through One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 and had a brilliant time, so I was excited to see what else the world of anime had to offer.
Thankfully even with my complete lack of knowledge I was not left in the dark. The demo opened with a short recap of the events thus far, so I could have some idea of what was going on when people started to scream, which they seemed to do a lot. Mercifully, the first demo’s area was also quite close to the start of the game. There wasn’t much to catch up on so, while I had just been dropped in, it was more to the shallow end rather than the deep end.
With the first demo’s opening spiel out the way, I was dropped into a massive open world on a ridable cloud that made getting around a synch. I don’t know why Goku had this cloud, I guessed it was something every Saiyan had, probably from shouting at the sky enough to will one down into submission. Either way, it turned out to be more of a fashion accessory as after jumping off I found out that I could fly on my own, leading me to think, “If Jesus can walk on water, would he still use a boat?”
In my look around, it was clear that the open world was giant, with some great elevation, and scale that made the map feel even more colossal as I soared around. It was fun to explore, but after completing the few flying challenges and having a go at the fishing minigame, it became clear that there was nothing substantial to the area during this demo.
The huge open world was more like an overworld from the only JRPG I’ve ever played, Blue Dragon, coincidentally designed by the original author of DBZ. Just like that, Kakarot’s environments feel like big empty places designed to fly around in; instanced combat and story encounters made the world itself feel built for the purpose of housing a game instead of being a world in itself, even with the occasional mini game or challenge.
I also had access to a second demo however came much later in the game, when characters were level 50 and we we’re fighting someone particularly angry called Perfect Cell. The recap this time tried its best, however needless to say I was confused about everything that went on in the fight, I knew little more than to beat the guy trying to kill me, but it was great fun doing it. If I wasn’t in a room full of people I may have shouted big anime words at the top of my voice, too.
Without much of an idea of who’s who, all the fun came from the combat, which played out exactly like what I’ve been told anime’s are like. It almost seemed like a farce with how much was happening and how much people were screaming when the fights got intense. Yet even when thing’s got going I was able to follow along through the cacophony of sights and sounds, and it was a great time.
For the fight, you’ve got a wide array of attacks at your disposal, the best of which are powered by ki, some magical force nonsense that lets you pull off all the iconic moves from the show like the Kamehameha and others that I don’t know the names of. Each of these ki attacks look spectacular, as you might expect them to from the show, however they lack the punch that their animations want to sell. While the attacks can send people flying, the areas that you fight in are just huge empty endless spaces where you spend most your time fighting in the sky, so a lot of the physical impact of attacks is lost.
When it comes to the looks, I have been informed by Lewis, our editor who has seen much more anime than myself, that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks very representative of the anime. It’s been given a slightly cartoony look compared to the drawn style of the anime, but it looks great regardless. Even when not comparing it to the anime it looks wonderful. The cartoony aesthetic doesn’t feel out of place and the vibrant colours pop whilst being used conservatively as to not overwhelm the eye, so it’s not only good for fans of the series.
There was a lot to like about Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, however I never felt myself being sucked into the experience unlike how I had been with the madness of One Piece or the brawling of One Punch Man. Nevertheless, I’m excited for the full release of the game, as there were some great mechanics on display in my time with the game, and more than can hold some great possibilities if done right in the full release.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is preorder-able here, and will be available on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC on January 16th. There’s also a nifty collectors edition with an eight-inch diorama figure that Lewis has been fawning over so you know it’s good.