Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a fan-service game with every RPG element imaginable shoehorned into a massive open-world game, and that’s not a bad thing. Even though the epic tale of Son Goku (Kakarot) and his journey from Raditz to Kid Buu is nearing thirty years old, and has been retold dozens of times, the adventure still holds weight as playing through it still felt just as epic as it did the first time. Here’s our Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review.
DBZ: Kakarot does an excellent job matching the pace of the anime. For example, once Raditz is defeated it takes a year before Vegeta and Nappa arrive on earth. In the anime, it takes nearly thirty episodes before their arrival. As a result, each episode felt like a huge waste of time as the fighters trained in various ways. In DBZ: Kakarot you experience the same delay, but the big difference is that you are the one doing the training. When you get to take control of what happens during these fillers, it feels like the time you spend fishing, eating, and training has meaning. My biggest complaint here is that, while there is a fair amount of combat-based missions between major story missions, most are fetch quests and mini-games. If you are familiar with the story from the anime just know that when filler episodes are coming, get ready to embrace plenty of video game tropes.
The combat in DBZ: Kakarot is what you would expect from any Dragon Ball game: lots of dodging, Ki attacks, super-powered moves, and plenty of in battle banter. While on the surface the combat would seem very basic to the point of wanting to call it a button masher, hard to master techniques such as the ability to dodge almost any attack at the very last second without using any Ki energy, adds extra layers to the simplistic combat system of DBZ: Kakarot. While I did find it strange that I could win a fight without getting hit but the next cutscene would have my character half beaten to a pulp, the battles are quite engaging even if they can seem a bit unbalanced at times. Being able to stock up on healing items that can be used mid-fight really helped me get through some of the tougher battles.
DBZ: Kakarot can and will overwhelm you with information. At first, it felt like the developers came up with a list of RPG elements and started checking boxes. Within the first fifteen minutes, you will experience an escort quest, fishing, cooking, and be introduced to the collectible in-game currency “Z Orbs” scattered throughout the world. But as the game progressed, each element expanded and the sheer depth to each of these goes well beyond checking a box. For example, the “Z Orbs” are used in order to level up each characters’ Super Attack Skill Tree (which the game does NOT tell you about).
These skill trees can be accessed from the characters’ stats screen by pressing the corresponding button. Each skill tree is separated into “Super Attacks” and “Know-hows” which can be purchased using varying amounts of each of the six different Z Orb types. Oh, and don’t forget to equip them once you activate them, another tidbit the game does not tell you what needs to be done. Don’t worry though, Z Orbs are littered throughout the world giving off a vibe reminiscent to Crackdown, and they re-spawn so there is no chance of running out.
At times leveling can be a bit confusing. Unlike most JRPGs which would have you grind by killing random enemies over and over until your character is powerful enough to take on (or completely obliterate) the next boss battle, DBZ: Kakarot makes grinding a bit pointless. Random encounters do not give a lot of XP and completing story mission boosts your character to whatever level the developers feel you should be at by this point.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot Review – Verdict
Even though you will be spending plenty of time roaming the world collecting Z Orbs to unlock moves and passive abilities, doing so never feels strenuous as the landscape is beautifully crafted. Between all the deep cut side characters and missions scattered throughout the lush open world, the different items to collect, shops to visit, and true to source areas that seem to be taken directly from the anime itself, I felt immersed into the world of DBZ: Kakarot. When compared to other open-world RPGs, I cannot honestly say that DBZ: Kakarot is by any means an amazing game. However, it is certainly the best Dragon Ball Z experiences of our time.
[Editor’s Note:] DBZ: Kakarot was reviewed on the PC platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes