After two massively successful Dragon Ball: Xenoverse games and the arcade fighter Dragon Ball: FighterZ by Arc System Works, Bandai Namco is trying something new this year with the yearly Dragon Ball title. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot changes the formula of the usual DBZ game by making it a completely open world and introducing fundamental Action RPG elements. Let’s find out if Bandai Namco’s experiment pays off.
Dragon Ball Z was the first Anime I ever watched and helped introduce me to other Japanese media. Honestly, I’m still a huge fan of the series and occasionally binge the last few episodes of Dragon Ball: Super that I missed, however, it’s getting really hard to be excited about any new yearly Dragon Ball title. When Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was announced as Dragon Ball ‘Project Z’, an action RPG set in the world of Dragon Ball, I was really excited. However, when I read the press release, which stated that the game will follow the story of the Anime, I lost all my excitement. After all, we’ve been playing the same story again and again for over two decades of games now. So keeping my expectations in check, I started the game. During my initial few hours, the main thing that came to mind was that Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is very different from games that came before it. The game definitely gives off a vibe of the excellent GBA based Dragon Ball Z: Legacy of Goku games.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a very slow burn during the initial few hours as the game introduces you to the different systems at play. The game has very strong RPG elements at play like detailed stats for each character, Monster Hunter inspired food buffs, Persona inspired character relationships and community building and more. Unlike previous Dragon Ball titles which were focused on pure action, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot does things very differently, which leads to a lot of padding. The game looks like it could have used more development time to flesh out the game’s systems and content because even though the ideas portrayed throughout the game have potential, their execution fails most of the time.
Unlike the Xenoverse games where the grinding was fun due to the battle systems and co-op gameplay design, in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot the battle system is, in my opinion, is quite a downgrade. Developer CyberConnect2 obviously focused on making the fights cinematic, which led to them being less fun. In battles, you get the usual third-person perspective, with the ability to fight on the ground or in the air. The gameplay feels familiar to not alienate the fans, who have been playing the Xenoverse games for so long, however, the overall fights feel clunky. Unlike in the Xenoverse games, which felt like a tight battle experience with consistent gameplay, Kakarot feels like you’re playing an interactive episode of the show most of the time with often a new attack being introduced as a new gameplay mechanic instead of relying on skill to win a battle. Don’t expect a skill showcase title like FighterZ with Kakarot, most fights here are just won on the basis of who manages to land more attacks first.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has its obvious flaws, however, I feel it’s a welcome addition in the Dragon Ball games portfolio due to the fact that Bandai Namco is finally willing to take drastic risks with the franchise. I really hope there’s a sequel with more polish and maybe an original story as the systems shown off certainly have potential.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Relive the story of Goku and other Z Fighters in DRAGON BALL Z: KAKAROT!
Final Score - 7/107/10
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has its obvious flaws, however, I feel it's a welcome addition in the Dragon Ball games portfolio due to the fact that Bandai Namco is finally willing to take drastic risks with the franchise.