Groups are also handled slightly differently. When entering a battle, an icon appears in the area where you initiated battle allowing others to select it and join with you. Once all players have selected the 'Ready' option battle begins and the icon disappears. My first 'group' was a fairly terrible experience. A player offered to help defeat a creature that would have been too tough for me otherwise, but instead chose to kill me before finishing off the enemy. Sadly, this was not an isolated experience, although as I increased in level, I encountered fewer players who acted in such ways.
Another disappointment was the lack of role-playing. Clearly the developers have put a lot of effort in the lore behind their world, which is evident in the information on the website, community forums, and in-game quests, but while in the game, you really play as you are. There is a small amount of role-playing on the community forums, but I never encountered any role-playing in-side the game itself.
After some time with my initial character, I realized I had made some 'bad' choices when raising him, resulting in a decision to delete and re-create him a number of times. Like other games that allow players the freedom to develop particular skills as they level up, there are clearly 'better' choices than others, resulting in what some refer to as 'cookie-cutter builds.' This means that when playing a particular class, there are only certain skills and attributes you should invest in, or else you will be weaker than others of the same level who chose the 'right' skills. For those players looking to succeed in the game, it is often important to refer to the community and the forums to see what other players did and what skills work 'best'. This is a shame, because every skill has a unique use and gives each class a distinct feel, but picking the wrong skills leads to a weaker and less enjoyable character.
Quests are handled in a way that should be familiar to most MMORPG fans: find an NPC with an exclamation point above their head, and interact with them. They provide directions to your next location. There is also an on-screen compass to help. One bug I noticed, however, is that if you log out and then return later, the helpful compass no longer points to the location you were supposed to go, making it nearly impossible in some cases to find who or what you were looking for.
The game also features something called the job system. As money is extremely difficult to come across, and with an established player-base who charges enormous amounts of money for items, it will be necessary for players to pick one or more jobs. A job is essentially a non-combat profession, such as lumberjacking, mining, farming or another profession that refines the raw items into something useful, such as a baker or tailor. Unlike leveling in combat, the grind in jobs is immediately apparent. Walking around for several hours to chop down literally hundreds of trees to advance a single level is not very entertaining. Sadly, the only benefit of doing this is reducing the amount of time it takes to harvest (by a tenth of a second every few levels), being able to harvest different types of raw materials, and to refine the materials into different items. Of course, some of the most sought-after items in the game are player-crafted, but the time needed to reach those levels seems to be on the exceptional side.
Generally, the gameplay is pleasant. Besides a few glaring issues (such as bad English translation in some instances), and some other minor problems (such as the quest location bug also mentioned before), the game is fun. Combat is an interesting and refreshing change, but can become repetitive after learning the enemy's 'tricks'. The game, for the most part, was lag free, and I never once had any issues connecting to the server or running the client.
The game is developed entirely in Flash, making system requirements on the low side, which is a big plus. The community was supportive in many cases, but like all games, has its share of problematic players. Many of these problems could be fixed fairly simply, in my opinion, and with the active development being done by Ankama Studios, I expect they will be.
In regards to the sound, Dofus gets an average score. The music, while catchy and light-hearted, which matches the tone set by the graphics, ultimately becomes repetitive and has very little variety. Ankama Studios is releasing another version fairly soon, so let us hope we see some new sound effects or additions to the musical score.
Dofus is a pleasantly surprising MMORPG. While I would not recommend it in its current form over some of the more well-known MMORPGs out there, I definitely recommend that players give Dofus a shot. With simplistic yet beautiful graphics, some new gameplay elements, and developers who clearly care about their game and are constantly putting forth new additions, you have nothing to lose. The groundwork for a great game is there, and it will be great to see how it evolves. Dofus is free to try, limiting players to a small area of the world. A small subscription fee opens up the entire world for the more adventurous.
Editor's Note: (01/16/06) Since the first release of this review, it was brought to our attention that there is an option to make items turn transparent when characters are behind them. This was something the reviewer did not find and - believing it was not an option - pointed out. Those passages have been removed.