The epic world of Dragon Ball is once again returning to the video game realm. This time Goku and friends are taking part in an RPG adventure spanning the entire series. Revisit the entire saga with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Google Stadia.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Details
The sprawling Saga of Dragon Ball Z
The Dragon Ball franchise is one of the most recognizable entities in entertainment. Even those entirely unfamiliar with manga and anime can likely recognize main protagonist Goku in a line up. Its overall reach is without a doubt very impressive.
The Dragon Ball Z series itself is even only a chunk of the complete Dragon Ball universe. Nonetheless it spans no fewer than 291 episodes of anime, drawing from 325 chapters of original Dragon Ball manga. To consume Dragon Ball Z in its entirety would be a substantial task spreading over days and weeks in the least.
This is what makes Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot such an intriguing gaming adventure. Its narrative actually covers the entire story of Dragon Ball Z, hitting every major plot point along the way. It’s essentially the whole of sum of 8 years of weekly anime programs boiled into one ~40 hour RPG.
This is an interesting way to consider consuming Goku’s amazing journey. Newcomers can basically verse themselves in the major points of Dragon Ball Z‘s sprawl without committing hundreds of hours to watching or reading a library’s worth of material. Conversely, old fans can relive their favourite story once again in the same time-friendly manner.
An open world adventure
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is made up of two key elements. There are flashy, spectacular battles, which I’ll touch on later. Firstly we will take a look at the game’s open world RPG elements.
Between big fights and major story beats, players are left to explore the world of Dragon Ball Z with significant freedom. If you are a big fan of the franchise, you may experience pure joy in simply existing in this world. For others however, it may feel a bit empty.
Outside of collectibles and regularly cliche fetch quests and side missions, there isn’t too much to do here. It’s actually a blast to fly around the world at high speeds with Goku. However, there isn’t always a big draw to continue doing so.
It’s not that the game is devoid of content, but rather for an RPG fan, they may just seem vanilla. There are no big stakes or note-worthy rewards for digging deep into Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot‘s exploration elements. If anything, it feels more like an exercise in fan service than a complex role-playing adventure.
Key gameplay features
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot does nevertheless attempt to bring in a few fun mechanics from traditional RPG’s. For example, Goku et al. can fish and forage for ingredients. Gathering leads to cooking, with players’ continually learning new dishes to create and consume for temporary buffs and boosts.
Probably the most interesting system in the game is the community board. This is a metric of measuring relationships between characters in the game. Think something akin to a Persona-esque style or rewarding players for creating deeper bonds with the NPC’s with which they interact.
Events that occur in the game strengthen these bonds. This ultimately contributes to the grid style community board, which keeps track of interactions and the results therein. This leads to gradual stat boosts that power players up and prepares them for the more difficult battles ahead.
These mechanics are interesting, but ultimately none of them truly drives the game. Their rewards aren’t really significant enough to make them a necessary fixture in the journey to Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot‘s conclusion. Players can largely disregard focusing diligently on them on them if they want a quicker path to the ending.
If publisher Bandai Namco is known for one thing, it’s over-the-top head to head battles—and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot fits the mould indeed. The game’s combat system builds itself around grand fights bursting with colour, animation, and a fast pace. Each instance of sparring feels like a battle of the Titans.
Mastering combat itself is fairly simple. It’s a basic combination of heavy melee attacks, Ki blasts, and speedy bursts of movement. I dare say that in most cases some clever button-mashing may suit players nearly as well as complex strategy, so long as the difficulty isn’t set too high.
Nevertheless, it’s very satisfying. Beating up your enemies is an addictive loop when garnering the powers of Goku and his friends. The beat-em-up elements of the game are really on point.
What truly elevates them as well is the gorgeous presentation. All of the game’s animations render brilliantly. It looks as impressive as if you were watching the anime itself, complete with heart-racing action and detailed bursts of spectacle and light. Essentially, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is nothing if not a polished piece of visual eye candy.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a visual masterpiece with flashy fights and vanilla RPG elements
In the end its probably those already somewhat familiar with the story who will enjoy Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot the most. The world is presented in a gorgeous way, and fans should likely be delighted simply to be a part of it. That said, it’s still a great way for the uninitiated to experience the story of Dragon Ball Z in a very condensed manner—but those seeker a deeper RPG experience might find some tedium built in.
The action is fairly simplistic, but nonetheless it still feels great to deal some heavy damage. This is amplified by the exceptional animations that really do justice to the artistic beauty of Dragon Ball. And what is Dragon Ball about if not showcasing Goku and his incredible power?
+ Gorgeous animations
+ Encompasses the entire Dragon Ball Z saga
+ Fast-paced, spectacular action
– RPG elements are shallow, insignificant
– Open world feels a bit empty
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DRAGON BALL Z: KAKAROT
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5