One of the most striking shots in the Dragon’s Dogma 2 release date trailer is a shot of a giant, eerily grinning feathered monster with fiery red eyes, ominously approaching the Arisen. To me, it stuck out as a uniquely non-confrontational encounter with a giant and imposing monster, which is not something you see very often in the world of Dragon’s Dogma.
Turns out, this monster is Capcom’s take on the legendary Sphinx, a monster that didn’t appear in the first game, but does in fact make an appearance in Dragon’s Dogma Online, a game that never made it to Western shores. But even if you did face off against the Sphinx in Dragon’s Dogma Online, don’t expect the encounter to go exactly the same way, because the Sphinx has a very special role in Dragon’s Dogma 2, assuming you’re able to find it in the first place.
The Sphinx is a monster that’s well-hidden in the world of Dragon’s Dogma 2 and lives in isolation. Game Director Hideaki Itsuno himself believes that many players will beat the game without ever even encountering it. For those that do discover the Sphinx’s hideout however, they’ll find an encounter that’s very different from your standard boss fight.
Behind the Sphinx are five treasure chests, each one tied to a particular riddle that you must solve before being able to claim the contents of it. In my demo, I only got a chance to attempt to solve one: The Riddle of Eyes. Of course, these are not just simple question and answer response-type riddles. As Itsuno-san puts it, this is an action game, so the riddles need to be solved through action as well.
The Riddle of Eyes was simple: “Our eyes are our allies, yet oft do they betray, for eyes tell lies, so I advise, and thence do lead astray.” You’re then told to venture forth into a cave and bring back the item which is of greatest value. As you explore the dangerous cave, filled with goblins, trap doors, and even a lumbering ogre awaiting you if you fall into one of those trap doors, you’ll find many treasure chests – some well-hidden, others in plain sight – all with items of various worth. Your goal is to find the item that satisfies the conditions of the riddle, and bring it back to the Sphinx.
The big catch is that you only get one shot at each riddle. If you bring back an item to the Sphinx and it’s not the one she’s looking for, you will lock yourself out of that riddle’s reward. So you need to really make sure that you’re not being fooled by the tricky words of the Sphinx.
Of course, if you’re not one for riddles, there is another – more straightforward – way to deal with the Sphinx. You could simply choose violence. That said, the Sphinx isn’t exactly the kind of monster that you’ll beat just by haphazardly attacking it.
“Saying too much here will ruin the fun, so we’ll just say that it is possible to fight it. You can fight it depending on your choices,” said Itsuno-san. “Defeating the Sphinx is a riddle in itself. We wanted to make the very question of whether it could be defeated or even fought into a mystery, and we’d like that to be a part of the fun players have dealing with the Sphinx and its riddles. Players will need to find the Sphinx in the first place, if they can. The journey to finding it might actually be the biggest mystery of all.”
It seems like a secret well worth uncovering, not just because of the rewards that you stand to earn, but also just because the riddles themselves are fun to solve. It’s a great blend of dungeon exploration and puzzle solving, as each treasure chest I encountered made me question whether its placement, its contents, or its appearance satisfied the conditions of the riddle.
The Sphinx is just one example of a missable piece of substantial content that players don’t need to find in order to beat the game, but will be handsomely rewarded if they do.
“That’s the key to this all. If there are parts of the game that you don’t have to discover, we’ve made it possible to beat the game without finding them,” said Itsuno-san. “I think the game will provide you with a lot of experiences that you’ll want to tell your friends about. They might be monsters, your interactions with monsters, or the times you escaped from monsters without even fighting them. The game is made so that it’ll create that kind of drama and those kinds of experiences, and we hope that players get to enjoy that.”
Mitchell Saltzman is an editorial producer at IGN. You can find him on twitter @JurassicRabbit