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Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Review

Dragons Dogma was one of those games I really wanted to love, it had everything a gamer could want and more, but something just didn't click between us. Maybe it was the ridiculous difficulty, taking me a good few attempts across as many months to just get through the initial battles, concentration waning into boredom with far too many deaths, it may of been the fiddly menu and stat system, or maybe it was the fact I had been adventure RPG'd out what with Dark Souls and Skyrim sharing similar release windows. Whatever it was I persevered, I just knew there was a good game in there and I was not wrong, once past the initial hurdles and committing more time to the game, getting my head around all of the options and the unique Pawn system the game opened up and became an exciting and deep adventure game, though even then you had to ignore the many shortcomings the it had, the main being the lack of a fast travel, left out to add a little realism to the game but forcing your team to hike through the violent lands of Gransys, often seriously reducing your health items even before you made it to the real quest at hand, adding a good half hour to any quest. Dragons Dogma was indeed a great game marred by some truly annoying gameplay decisions, well now we have Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen, an expansion that also includes the whole original game.

As a returning player I can note there have been some improvements to the basic game, on the hole it is the same but with a load of extra content; though this budget release with an expansion pack retail release is a strange approach, especially from a company like CAPCOM, renowned for its approach to downloadable content. As mentioned, the disc includes the whole of the original game, playing pretty much as before, with your hero becoming the chosen Arisen, a being able to battle dragons and also command the assistance of a strange race called Pawns. These people look human in appearance but are hollow, with no soul to guide them they are pretty much yours to command, joining you on your many quests. Travelling by foot across the huge lands you will come across huge beasts that roam the land, Cyclops, griffons and plenty of goblins, all of whom are very aggressive and ready to attack. The actual fighting mechanics are very satisfying, allowing you to get right up close and personal with some of the larger beasts, literally climbing up their legs and clinging to their bodies to get a few extra hits in. As with most RPG's you are able to choose from a selection of classes, the fighter that is very hands on with a sword and shield, the strider, who prefers the knife and ranged bow and arrow or the mage, able to cast numerous elemental attacks and also boost other players with these powers. You are never really alone in your battles as even after picking your favourite style you can always reinforce your battles with the many Pawns available. These mindless people are pretty much yours to trade and use their abilities to assist in the coming battles, using the same class system they can assist in many ways on the battlefield and also be sent online, allowing your Pawns to join other games.

The biggest changes to the main game are the notable visual upgrades, with it looking a lot crisper and more appealing to the eye and the inclusion of an eternal ferrystone make a huge difference, allowing fast travel to specific parts on the map, a very welcome change that really changes my attitude towards the game, no longer fearing a death from a rampaging ogre and having to restart after a good hour walking to a quest point.

The new area available is accessible pretty much from the start, however approaching this new content on any character level below 40 would be suicide as it is rock hard. Ventured to by chatting to Orla, a mysterious phantom who waits at night on a jetty at Cassardis, your home town, she will ferry you to Bitterblack Isle, a dark and mysterious land full of underground corridors and plenty of new beasts to slay, some are more dangerous versions of what Gransys hold, others are brand new and more fearsome than anything the game has offered before, including Death itself, taking plenty of opportunities to attack and wipe out you and your Pawns a little too effectively. Even at a high character level, Bitterblack Isle is a real challenge, so it is best to leave this content for experienced players who can transfer their save game files over from the initial Dragons Dogma release; for newcomers it would be better to experience a little more of what Gransys has to offer before taking up this challenge. Even if you have to take your time and level up, the wait is well worth it with plenty of treasures to locate and use for the greater good, with the many nooks and crannies full of cursed loot that Orla needs to appraise and cleanse before you can use.

Returning to the world of Dragons Dogma was like putting on your old favourite pair of slippers that had lots of holes in them and then finding someone had fixed them for you: the improvements made on the original game really made this return experience all the more fun, making this a much better game for it and if these improvements are anything to go by, I can't wait for Dragons Dogma 2.

Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: Xbox 360)


- Lots of fixes over the original game
- Great looking monsters
- Loads of weapons and magic's and customisation options.


- Still can get really hard

Edited On 29 Apr, 2013

( 9 )
0000000000's avatar
0000000000 4 years ago
so tempted for this especially at that price! hmmmmm, any chance of it being free lol
 TruDarkAssassin's avatar
TruDarkAssassin 4 years ago
brought this when it came out but still in my back log of games great value for what you get many hours of game time cannot wait to get started on it
plateia's avatar
plateia 4 years ago
Be warned, it has no new achievements for the new content which I was unaware of before I grabbed it on release. Should have had a read first, but I just assumed that with a large chunk of extra content there would also be achievements. Online tracking stuff like Raptr treats the game as the original, it doesn't even track it as Dark Arisen.
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 4 years ago
I've heard a lot of good things. I'e also heard about the difficulty spikes towards the end of the expansion being stupid hard, I think i'll hold off for a bit
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
I'm playing it right now and it and so far it is absolutely amazing. Also how dare you say pawns have no souls, my main pawn Nox is a complete badass in combat and has helped me out on numerous occasions
 TruDarkAssassin's avatar
TruDarkAssassin 4 years ago
they can help my pawn out saiyannox when i finally get around to playing it lol
metalgearfloppy's avatar
metalgearfloppy 4 years ago
Even at character lvl 80+ (with lvl 90+ pawns in tow) the new content can be hard going, so I'm guessing it scales the difficulty to your level? Anyone who hasn't played the game yet really should, especially at this price, one of my fav RPGs on console and waaaay more fun than Skyrim .....(runs for cover to avoid the fanboy-fireballs)
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
I agree Floppy. While Skyrim is a great game, Dragon's Dogma is a hell of a lot more fun
Cathe's avatar
Cathe 4 years ago
I loved Dragons Dogma. My character isn't as high level as it could be (I was level 53 when I got Dark Arisen) because I kind of blitzed through the game and after I got through the story once, I had just played it far too much. I will give any kind of RPG game a go at least once but if a game has same-sex romance options (even if it's as insignificant as Dragons Dogma or Skyrim) then it instantly appeals to me more. So I was level 53 when I put Dark Arisen in. Capcom recommend level 50 for the new content but I explored for about 2 levels and then got KO'd by an ogre looking thing the size of the screen. I saw a reviewer recommend level 75 for the new content so I am going through the story again now to get some more level ups before travelling back to the new island. Very glad I bought Dark Arisen though. To be honest the best part of this game is the grab button. I don't know any other game where you can grab random characters and just throw them off a rooftop or off a bridge or something. It's just so great to have a game that gives you the freedom to do silly things like that :D

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