Review | Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot

After years of multiplayer games, there is finally another Dragon Ball Z title that focuses on the fans. Kakarot is an RPG, which unfortunately cannot compete with its genre mates.

It has been over fifteen years since Buu’s Fury appeared for the Game Boy Advance. It was the last ‘real’ role-playing game based on the Japanese animation series that, despite moderate criticism, still has a warm place in the hearts of Dragon Ball fans.

Developer Cyberconnect2 is now trying to respond to that sentiment with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. In recent years, the studio has been responsible for the .hack games and recent Naruto fighters, making it the main supplier for games based on Japanese anime. With Kakarot they aim at a large scale: the game covers the full story of Dragon Ball Z, from the arrival of Raditz to the fight against Majin Buu.

The combat system is a bit like that from earlier 3D fighting games in the Dragon Ball series, such as Budokai Tenkaichi and Xenoverse. You fly around in a three-dimensional environment, where you string simple combos together and fire powerful super attacks. In Kakarot, the system has been slightly modified to give it more of a role play feel, so that you can block during an enemy attack, for example.

Kakarot has a kind of open world. The game is split into several large areas, through which you can walk or fly. There you can start side missions, find food and resources and fight strong monsters flying around.

Almost every mission that you play alongside the main story, is the same. You’re asked to collect some materials, which you then hand in for a reward. Although the areas in the game are large, they sometimes feel a bit empty. Every region is filled with floating Z orbs, which you can collect to buy new upgrades.

It can be tempting to fly into the world and eliminate random enemies, to gradually make your characters stronger. Kakarot profiles itself as an RPG, one that constantly tempts you to save points for new super attacks and other skills, but you will be disappointed after you have tried this. All optional content gives extremely few experience points, while continuing to play the story makes you grow enormously fast in level.

It may be clear, Kakarot presents itself as a role play, but in reality it gives you hardly any control over the growth of your characters. This is also reflected in the way you unlock new attacks. You can purchase upgrades through an extensive skilltree, but after a few investments it ends: you have to reach a specific chapter to unlock the rest. The game basically just wants you to ignore the entire RPG system and simply follow the story.

We understand that to a certain extent: after all, you don’t want Goku to become Super Saiyan after long grinding, even before his best friend is murdered by Freeza. But it probably proves why the story of Dragon Ball, which relies on the heroes’ power-ups and new attack techniques, does not lend itself to role-playing such as this one. If Kakarot had its own story, that would lead to a freer and more creative game.

Score:

7,0

+ Story of the whole Dragon Ball Z
+ All the favorite DBZ characters are included.
+ Graphic style looks good.

– Empty world
– Undermines its own RPG systems.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is now available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For this review, the game was played on PlayStation 4 Pro.