I'm not a big fan of online multiplayer games. I just don't like my gaming experience dictated by a whole bunch of anonymous people. That's not to say that I don't enjoy shooting my mates and conquering their measley countries at the occasional LAN party, but it's different when you know the people you are playing with and can trade insults over the table or into the next room. I knew right from the start that DOFUS was going to have to be pretty damn good to impress me, since it's not the kind of game that I'd even look twice at normally.
And before I even get into the specifics of the game, the question begs to be asked. What kind of a name is DOFUS for a massively multiplayer online role playing game anyway? I think it's pronounced 'dough-fuss', but I'm not 100% sure. It took me a good while before I could even say it in conversation without it making me giggle.
The irony of it all. I have no choice but to dish out my first ever gold star award to a game that I would not normally play in a genre that I don't care for. In other words, DOFUS is a very complete and professional looking game that will appeal to many thousands of gamers out there. Try as I may, it's very hard to find fault with it. It is graphically superb. It has a freeform nature to the gameplay that will keep it fresh for a very long time. It is a cross platform application that only needs very modest specs on the machine that it is run on (along with a flash player). It offers subscription based plans over a variety of terms to individually suit any particular players level of passion for a game such as this as well as the depth of their pockets. DOFUS really is that good.
I immediately fell in love with the painstakingly hand-drawn graphics and artwork. All elements in the game are unashamedly derived from Japanese manga roots, and the architecture in game is especially reminiscent of the style of one of my favourite proponents of the craft Hayao Miyazaki, who is famous for such films as "My Neighbour Totoro" and "Princess Mononoke".
The rich and detailed 2D environments are without a doubt the games strongest points and serve to create a level of immersion rarely seen in an indie offering. The game world is colourful and bold, and is a pleasure to adventure around or simply explore as the player sees fit.
Very briefly, the player can set up a character selected from one of twelve different types, and customise that character to some extent by personalising the colour scheme. Special items may also change the appearance of your character, and even in the crowded cityscapes, the huge variety of individual characters looks great. From there, the choice is really up to the player on how he/she wants to play the game. There are quests available, a huge world to explore, monsters to battle, guilds to join, shops and stalls to visit, professions to work at and money to be made. There is a great deal of freedom in the choices made available to the player.
Interestingly, for a game of this type, combat is handled in a novel turn-based fashion where movement and action are governed by points. This allows players on higher latency connections to the server to still enjoy the game with very little handicap. Skills and abillities of different character types are quite diverse and are designed to complement each other in battle. The economic model in the game is soundly based on the principles of supply and demand. Characters can gain professions such as farming, mining, baking or weaving and each relies on the work of the others. In the picture to the left my character is harvesting wheat which I will take back to the mill to grind into a type of flour.
Then it's off to the market where I select how much flour I want to sell and set my price. If I set a low price, then my flour will move but my profit will obviously be less. It's a dynamic and persistent market, so considerable strategy is involved in knowing what to sell and how much it's worth. There are literally hundreds of items available in the world and at least a couple of different ways of aquiring any or all of them. As the character toils away at their chosen job, they will eventually level up and gain more bonuses specific to that profession. This is separate to character level, which is determined mostly by experience gained by defeating monsters in combat.
If I had to nitpick (and these certainly are very minor critisisms of a very cool game), there would be only a few. Sound is spartan and music is a little grating after a while. Having all the players data stored on remote servers means that if the server goes down (as it has a few times this week already), then you cannot play your stored characters. You cannot, in fact, play DOFUS at all in an offline capacity. The learning curve is quite steep and it is very likely that the new player will be completely stumped as to how to go about things for the first few hours play, as was your humble reviewer. This is not helped by the fact that the developers are French and thus, English is not their native language. Some puzzling dialogue from NPCs is apparent right from the start of the game. At the end of it all though, DOFUS is a multiplayer game, and your mileage will vary depending on how much other players choose to enjoy the game the same way you do. Generally speaking, I personally found not too many of them willing to help or quest with my lower level characters, and that was a little disappointing.
You can download and play DOFUS for free right now from the link at the top of this page. There are a few limitations, but it will give you a good taste of what the game has in store. Ankama Studio are actively developing the game and adding new content periodically. For fans of MMORPGs this one is a must have. Even if you're like me though, and don't think you will enjoy it - give it a try. I'll give you even money that after what seems a short while, you'll be looking up at the clock blearry-eyed, wondering where the hours went.
Keywords: dofus review, ankama studio reviews, ankama studio games, dofus scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.