Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
This week I received a copy of ‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’, and while it contains everything I loved about the first release of the game and more, reviewing the revamped release has proven to be a tricky subject. Do I approach the game and only review the extra content? Or do I review it as a stand-alone game? I realised that I needn’t make a choice, as Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen has plenty to offer people new to Dragon’s Dogma, as well as seasoned veterans of the original release.
If you haven’t played the original Dragon’s Dogma, it was a new role-playing-game from Capcom, which contained more western monsters and environments, such as medieval castles, dragons, lizardmen and gryphons. Despite being a little light on a decent story, I still spent many hours on the game completing quests and leveling up my character and companions.
Players assume the role of “The Arisen”, a simple warrior unaware of their enormous potential, who’s village is attacked by a dragon. The dragon knocks them to the ground, and steals their still-beating heart from their chest, and devours it. Without a heart, it is hinted that you will not be able to properly enter the afterlife, though you are able to enter “the void” and communicate with other warriors who have passed on. You are even able to hire some to aid you in your adventures. You are able to gain experience and gain new skills similar to other RPGs, but Dragon’s Dogma features hybrid classes, such as the Battlemage and Magick Archer, which can cater to someone with a different playing style.
What really hooked me about Dragon’s Dogma (and Dark Arisen) is the character customisation, companion system, epic battles, and the ability to grapple in battle. There are so many factors that come into play to make every battle feel different. Not only that, but enemies do not scale to your level like in other RPGs, which means just because you beat the tar out of one group of thieves, doesn’t mean you will beat another so easily.
Some of the larger monsters in the game truly tested my mettle, and I had my getting hooked on the game after they witnessed me grab onto a gryphon, and stab it in the eyes as it flew over a forest with me still holding on!
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen contains all the quests from the original Dragon’s Dogma, as well as additional content and an HD texture pack. Unfortunately, owners of the original Dragon’s Dogma cannot purchase just the DLC and play it, as Dark Arisen requires its own install disc to work.
Dark Arisen contains new quests that can be attempted once you reach level 50, as well a huge underground region to explore, over 25 new enemies, deadly new skills, over 100 pieces of new equipment and new ways to enhance your armour. The new content is hard, and definitely suited to the battle hardened veterans of Dragon’s Dogma. Naturally, with great risk comes great reward, and Dark Arisen has some truly epic loot in store for the adventurous. What does that mean for players new to Dragon’s Dogma? Well, if you are an RPG buff, you should definitely check out Dragon’s Dogma. I loved the first version, and the re-release is even better. What does that mean for established Arisen? If you couldn’t get enough of Dragon’s Dogma the first time, pick up this new copy, and lend your original to a mate. That’s good karma.
Technically, the graphics in Dark Arisen are identical to the original release of Dragon’s Dogma. The amount of content that Dark Arisen contains makes an additional disc for the game’s textures necessary. I was a little disappointed, until I realised that all the textures were loading almost instantly, and I could notice an overall improvement in the games visuals. Dark Arisen, and the original Dragon’s Dogma are good looking games. That being said, they’re good, not great. The game’s performance makes up for it’s lack of graphics. There isn’t a great amount of tedious loading in either version of Dragon’s Dogma, and if the game looked as sleek as something like Skyrim, it would have to load a lot more, and separate a lot of areas into interiors and exteriors (like Skyrim).
The sound in Dragon’s Dogma has always been competent, but it lacks the flare of other RPGs. I hate to compare it to Skyrim again (as they are both extremely different games), but Dragon’s Dogma has no epic musical score, no music in villages, and no eery cavern music. While I personally think the voice acting reflects what I imagine medieval speech to have sounded like, there were a few people I spoke to who detested the voice acting in Dragon’s Dogma, and also said that the companions speak “too much”.
As I understand, your companions and pawn gather knowledge from every battle they complete. Utilising their knowledge, they will inform you of an enemy’s weakness, or the opportune moment to strike. You are able to tell them to talk less at taverns, but as I said, I had no problem with how frequently they spoke.
More quests! More enemies! More everything!
Nice, affordable pricing.
Tweaks to some minor inconveniences make this re-release friendlier to new players.
HD Texture pack is not technically a visual upgrade.
Still no proper multiplayer.
Still a little light on story.
While I usually disagree with re-releases (and in particular, Capcom’s), I must say that they are getting better. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, and Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen are really worth picking up, even if you have played the original releases previously. If you haven’t played Dragon’s Dogma before, you must absolutely check this one out. Once you get past the tutorial stages of the game, you have a pretty addictive loot fest with item crafting and enhancement. I’m almost certain a sequel is in the works, and I can’t wait.
Score – 8/10