When trying to decide on a new MMORPG to spend my ever-valuable time, energy and money on, there are typically several factors that heavily sway my decision. The most important of these factors include graphics, developer name and track record, cost and press around the game. Thus, when deciding to review a little MMORPG known as Dofus, developed by Ankama Studios, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I had never heard of the game, the developer, and you could play it for free (which from my experience is typically a bad sign). After spending some time with Dofus, however, I came away pleasantly surprised.
Upon reaching the main Dofus website, I was greeted with a short Flash animation that showed off some of the game's related background. It did not make much sense, and it still doesn't after experiencing the game, but the music was charming and the artwork attractive, with a distinct anime quality to it. The website was extremely intuitive and easy to navigate, which is more than I can say for some other big name games out there.
The first thing you will probably notice when starting out with Dofus is the relatively simple registration and setup phase. After entering some basic personal information, you will download the game client for free. The client is offered for not only current Windows operating systems, but also supports Windows 98/ME, Mac OS X, and Linux. Downloading the client for Windows was a breeze. The auto-update process that followed after setup also went smoothly and quickly, and I was at character creation in no time at all.
The first issue I had came at character creation. While the game boasts eleven different 'classes' there is very little customization involved. Additionally, a new player may have some difficulty selecting a class, as some of the names and descriptions give little to no idea what playing the class entails. I spent most of the time looking at the skills available to determine the role of the character. I must say that the classes are unique, but all can be classified as general fighter, healer, and mage types, with some clever twists. For instance, a couple of the classes I enjoyed the most included one which actually got stronger as it took damage, and another which 'gambles' on all of its abilities, making the effects feel random. After selecting a class, the player is allowed a few minor color changes to the 2-dimensional sprite that will represent them, and they're off.
Players enter the world, and are immediately offered the choice of a tutorial or to jump right into the world. The tutorial, although very brief, is extremely helpful and teaches the player the basics of the game and how to interact with nearly all aspects of the well designed user interface. Another big plus to the game was it was extremely easy to get into due to this fact, as everything was accomplished with a simple left-click of the mouse; no complicated commands to memorize or series of key presses and mouse-clicks.
Following the tutorial, players are dumped into the world with very little direction as to what to do or where to go next. There are a few minor quests they can accomplish at the start, but they feel very shallow for the most part, and often involve a simple delivery or kill quest.
That is not to say that the world players enter is not a pretty one. The Dofus world is undoubtedly beautiful in its own way. If you are looking for a game with cutting edge graphics, stay far away from this game. Everything is done with simple 2-dimensional sprites, which are animated well enough. The environments have a beautiful, hand-drawn look to them, and the game certainly has an anime theme and inspiration behind it. Some may enjoy this simplicity, while others may be put off by it, but there is no denying it all looks great.
Dofus has gone an entirely different route with its battle system. Instead of the 'real-time' combat that many MMORPGs now exhibit, Dofus places players into a turn-based combat system, which is reminiscent of games such as Final Fantasy Tactics. Players initiate combat by selecting an enemy on the screen, and then are then taken to their own separate version of that particular area and given places to position their character. From there, players have a limited amount of MP (Movement Points) and AP (Action Points) to spend per turn.
Each class has unique abilities, making combat a very different experience based on the class you play. One class may excel at taking damage to strengthen themselves, and another may be better at summoning other creatures to take the brunt of the enemy's assault. This makes for what may seem like a very tactical experience at first, making player placement and movement choices critical to the outcome of battle. After a while, however, it is easy to discern exactly how a particular enemy will react, and move accordingly. The A.I. of many enemies should certainly be looked into, but battles are nonetheless an enjoyable experience, rewarding players with more experience and loot than is common in most other MMORPGs. Thus, character seem to level quickly, at least until they hit forty. The next one-hundred-and-sixty levels have more grind to them.