We have had a lot of Dragon Ball related games over the decades. Some have been truly amazing—such as the recent Dragon Ball FighterZ—and others have been extremely poor…Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout for example. However, the RPG focused Dragon Ball games have all been mediocre, to say the least so when Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was announced don’t blame us for being a bit hesitant. Instead of a 2D fighter or 3D brawler, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an action/RPG where you control Goku and other Z fighters as they journey through the numerous arcs of the Dragon Ball Z series. Is Goku’s latest new adventure worth plunging into or does it fall victim to being yet another stale RPG? We find out in our full review of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot for the PS4!
What to Expect
For the first time ever, players get to experience the world of Dragon Ball Z in a larger perspective! Freely roam around various Dragon Ball locations and encounter various quests to take on and/or enjoy the freedom to train and become the ultimate warrior. Engage in story-related missions and even some newly unseen content that spans across the various arcs such as the Saiyan Saga all the way through Buu’s! Fight in free-ranged battles using legendary moves and unleashing numerous transformations such as Kaioken or even the legendary Super Saiyan form! Here’s a question for you great warrior…how will you live as Son Goku first in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot!?
Goku’s story has been told numerous times before but in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot you’re going to dive into his tale in a way never before seen. Assume the role of Goku and various other warriors as he fights off the Saiyan invaders, battles Cell and numerous other villains from the Dragon Ball Z lore. Experience Goku’s story by living in his shoes as you will train with numerous characters and even need to fish for food to fill Goku’s never-ending appetite! Learn of hidden stories unseen in the main series and meet familiar faces from the Dragon Ball world! Goku is going on one more adventure but in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, this adventure is larger than ever before!
It can be a bit strange for new gamers to see a Dragon Ball game not be a 2D fighter or 3D brawler. Yet, for those who remember, Dragon Ball has not shied away from the RPG realm. However, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot isn’t like the top-down RPG gameplay found in Dragon Ball Z: Buu’s Fury or the brawling action of Dragon Ball Z: Sagas. Instead, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a larger than life action RPG with an emphasis on large. You’ll understand what we mean as we dive deeper into the gameplay found in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot!
Right off the bat, you’re going to be thrown into the main gameplay element of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Players will soon learn that like the Xenoverse games, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a 3D action fighter but with a focus on RPG elements. Rather than have combos you perform with a myriad of buttons, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot plays close to having everything assigned to several buttons. Unleash ki blasts with the hit of a face button or unleash devastating auto combos with another. Use the shoulder buttons in conjunction with the face buttons and you can unleash numerous series special attacks such as the Kamehameha wave or Piccolos’ Special Beam Cannon! As you progress further, you’ll unlock even more skills and even get the legendary transformations known in Dragon Ball Z.
What keeps combat fun and exciting—though we will mention its faults later—is that battles aren’t just button mashing affairs. Early on fights with lesser-known robots and grunts—you’ll fight these a lot in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot—can be won by slamming melee but when you face down larger foes like Cell or Vegeta, you’ll need to use everything in your arsenal of moves. You can always guard—though it can be broken if held down against strong attacks—or use flash movements to avoid attacks and hit your foe from behind! Even using special forms like Kaioken aren’t an instant win as they always come with a catch. In the case of Kaioken, using it will deplete your health constantly and Super Saiyan modes deplete your Ki making you exhausted or unable to use special attacks. Add to this the occasional fights where you need to rely on your team—which they come with their own AI that’s smart and special move palette—and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot can be quite engaging when it wants to be.
Now fighting at first is pretty simple but when you begin to level up and unlock the community boards, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot opens up quite a bit. As you progress through the story, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot gives players community boards which act as a means of gaining special perks while fighting. For example, one community board will have a focus on Piccolo and give those who put points into it—you need gifts or random items to do this—perks that can increase your ki attacks or give defense against them in turn. You’ll also get Soul Emblems as you meet characters in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot that can be put into those community boards and unlock even greater boons. These boards aren’t necessary early on in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot but by the Frieze Saga arc, not using them might make fights a bit too tough.
Another aspect of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the exploration which is where the problems of this game begin to pop up. Exploring Goku’s world is pretty amazing as it allows you to visit special locations known through the universe and even meet old friends! You can fish, train with enemies—some of which are harder than the main bosses—and take on quests for numerous items and experience points. The problem with exploration is that none of it feels needed. It might be cool to find Bibi and Launch—two well-known Dragon Ball characters—but its more for homage purposes than to add any life to the world of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. Training also gets tedious quickly and often only gives you a frugal amount of EXP which won’t help much to level up. Exploring in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot feels a bit lifeless and that is a shame given this huge world filled with beauty.
Jumping back into combat, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot falters when you realize that as deep as the game can be…it also is quite shallow. You’ll never not just use a few buttons to unleash special attacks and while it is impressive to clash with foes, the feeling ultimately feels overly simple. This doesn’t change even when you begin to have larger scale battles like fighting Great Apes or large scale battles. You’re still hitting one button for melee, one for ki and one for defense/evasion. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot could have learned a bit from the Xenoverse games and made combat a bit meatier.
The biggest take away from Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot will no doubt be from the visuals. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is easily the most gorgeous Dragon Ball game ever. Developer CyberConnect2 has always had a way of making anime adapted games into works of art as relevant from their work on Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja. There are some moments where the graphics actually trump the original animation and we were wowed by that. Sadly, there are some framerate issues when larger-scale attacks happen or an area loads but these rarely weakened the game. They were noticeable though during some big cutscenes which lessened the immersion factor considerably. Ultimately though, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot looks incredible and while it might not have the cel-shading found in Dragon Ball FighterZ, it has an art form that shows a lot of love towards the original anime.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Here’s the deal with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. On one hand, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot does a lot right. Not only does the game look gorgeous and even—in some areas—surpass the original anime with special effects but there’s clearly a lot of love put into Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. From character appearances to side stories that deepen the lore of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot feels like the entire series put into a game. Combat also works quite well and often tests your skills with various systems in play. Unfortunately, as an RPG Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot falls a bit short with generic quests, boring lesser enemies and occasional framerate drops/lag. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a love letter to series fans—and newcomers will find it easy to dive into Goku’s world—but with a bit more polish this game could have avoided a lot of issues mentioned above. Thankfully, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot hits more than it misses.
Excellent amount of detail for those who love the lore of Dragon Ball
Breathtaking visuals that occasionally surpass even the original series
Simple but intuitive combat that makes some battles pretty tough
Great soundtrack with original voice actors (both English and Japanese) reprising their roles
Deep RPG system that rewards players for doing more during the adventure/exploration segments
Combat can occasionally be too simple
Quests and exploration do have some boring elements that make you rush through to the next big story segment
Framerate issues and lag were a big problem during some fights/cutscenes
Some RPG mechanics feel a bit tacked on
Honey's Final Verdict:
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has a plethora of small issues that keep it from being the best Dragon Ball Z game ever. That being said, developer CyberConnect2 has pulled off the impossible. Somehow, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is an amazing action/RPG with a lot of love for the fans and newcomers alike! We feel out of all the RPG bearing the Dragon Ball name, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is easily the best and is well worth your dollar! Are you excited now to play Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot? Let us know via the comments below! Even more game reviews and anime-themed articles await for those who stick close to us here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!