I can’t believe I’ve not spoken about this boss yet, it is among if not my favourite boss; the Archydra from Dragon’s Dogma. Dragon’s Dogma is a fantastic game (with a fantastic theme), one of my favourites and it’s more than a little surprising that the mechanics haven’t been lifted by other big games.
Before speaking more about the boss in question, I think the mechanics could do with some explaining. I’ll try not to linger on it to much. It’s a third person action game wherein you travel in a party of up to four. There are three basic class branches, warrior, rogue and mage, so you want a good party composition. You can grab and sometimes even throw some smaller enemies but it’s with the larger enemies that things get interesting…
You can physically climb larger enemies, getting to their weak spots or forcing them to act in a certain way, maybe just weighing them down. One example would be when fighting armoured cyclopes, the eye, their weak spot is covered by a helmet. If you climb to the base of its neck it will knock off its helmet while trying to grab you. An ogre may slap itself onto the ground in an attempt to squash you if you climb on its back. It’s all very fantastic.
Hydra and Archydra
There are two hydras in the game the Hydra and the Archydra. The Archydra has a whiter scale colour than the Hydra’s blackish as well as being somewhat stronger. You could play through the game without fighting either, though you’ll more likely miss the Hydra as you can only fight it at a certain point in the game by accepting the specific quest. The Archydra spawns in one of several rooms that opens toward the end of the game that you can use to farm a specific item to progress, though you can avoid that boss if you wish. Actually, you do square off against the Hydra at one point early in the game, though it flees after you sever one of its heads.
They each have four heads and when one is cut off it regrows after a short time, this regrowth can be delayed by cauterising the neck stump, so y’know bring a spellcaster if you want to do that. Also for this fact you’d probably want to use bladed weapons over blunt ones. Though this is only a concern with one class I believe. Getting the heads helps, you’ve one less to deal with for a time. Lot of heads flying about the place, it can get hectic. Not as much a concern when you’re climbing on one but there is the matter of getting to that point.
Tactics and Tensions
It was my main tactic to just keep climbing and cutting off heads, trying to keep my teammates alive. And hoping that they’d keep me alive in turn… Alright I love this boss but I died so many times fighting it. But despite this I would keep trying again and again for hours on end. One of my most common causes of defeat was by being, well, umm… eaten.
Yeah, one of the attack involves swallowing you, you can struggle in its mouth but will inevitably end up sliding towards its gullet unless your companions manage to stagger or decapitate it. The trip to down the neck is a slow one where you will likely be mashing the button for your comrades to help you while knowing it really has next to no effect. Damn, it’s tense though. Really tense, and there’s almost nothing you can do but watch in horror, will your team save you? Will you perish? Will they be incapacitated before this happens giving your death true inevitability?
Sure, I probably could have just levelled a bit and gotten some better equipment (unlikely, style is always the most important stat). But I had fun with the boss it’s frustratingly challenging battle with tense as hell moments and a real sense of accomplishment at its defeat. And hey, at least it didn’t have petrification (just you wait until I write about the Cockatrice)!
Have you faced this boss? Let us know in the comments!