Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Review

 dragons dogma dark arisen review

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen review code provided by publisher.

A little over five years ago, a little game called Dragon’s Dogma launched for previously-current consoles, and it left a very special feeling in its wake. It yielded comparisons of gaming titans of the time, a combination that was as appealing as it was successful, and yet it embodied only itself. Between then and now, Dark Arisen, the expansion to the game, came out and graced gamers with another chance to dabble within the world that Capcom managed to create. Now, in 2017, that opportunity has returned, but what has also appeared with its revival is the then-forgettable truths to the game that aren’t so forgettable now.

You are the Arisen, once again on an adventure to reclaim your disembodied heart from the red wyrm that attacked your town all those years ago. As I reviewed the original game, expect this review to be somewhat devoid of finer gameplay details, since the mechanics, controls, etc. of the game remain unchanged. In fact, this product in terms of content is the very same that can be found in the Dark Arisen bundle that launched a year after the core game. As the product still is as addicting as it was then, it’s hard to discredit the efforts put into the original formula, especially at a current price tag of $30. Simply put, it’s not amiss to the sands of time, but age has proven itself generous enough to notch a spot in a current library for this acclaimed titled.

Watch the first 50 minutes of Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen.

What makes this game so special is that you are given free reign to play the game in a few tried and true ways, each one a bit different than the others. With the archer, fighter, and sorcerer classes a mere stop at the in away, there’s not much in your way to keep you from where you want to go. . . except for the world itself. Complaining about a world being too big seems rather defeatist, especially since the game’s vastness is far from empty, but navigation quickly becomes an aspect that stretches out further and further the longer you play the game. Early on, it’s rewarding, because enemies will grant you items and experience while every little nook and cranny yields either coin or resource for your benefit, but once your destinations begin popping up in the middle of nowhere, the adventure tends to harbor long lull periods. Items to teleport back to Gransys, the main hub, are expensive, and items that teleport you to specific locations are even more so, forcing you to go on foot to every quest marker.

dragons dogma dark arisen screenshot

Experienced players will find themselves with tons of quests in the same area, making each trek worth the venture, but those with little experience will find themselves running from quest to quest in whatever order they end up taking. The map offers little help, since the quest objectives cannot be easily tracked without prior knowledge.To top this all off, the game, as it did in its original form, depends on you to save your progress. Sure, there is an autosave every time you zone into a new area, but zones are massive as hell, and a lot can happen between one end and another. I knew this going in, but it’s so easy to get lost in your exploration that you find yourself easily outmatched by a spontaneous pack of wolves or a band of sorcerers at night, leaving you to start over where you last save; a change to the game’s features could have remedied a lot of these former frustrations, as a few good classics have done in the last year.

Watch the character creation process.

This is the catch to what’s so special in Dragon’s Dogma: It’s a dangerous open world just waiting for you to explore it. The game allows you to make your own choices with the resources and quests you’re given and the difficulty, albeit unforgiving at times, has a natural sense of progression that informs you if you’re ready to do what you intend to do. It’s here where its many inspirations meet, but it’s here as well where it branches off into onto its own path. Everything scales in size the farther you go, and the game pushes you to try new things with each class, keeping the game from growing stale in its sheer girth. Your pawns, or avatars for other’s player characters, pick things up for you, give you hints in battle, and deliver lovely, albeit repetitive, banter along the way, sprinkling a bit of personality at every turn in an olden English sort of way.

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen on the PS4 is everything it was on the PS3. In the good times and the bad, you’ll find yourself wanting to trudge through the low points and struggle through the hard ones to see what next big event or spectacular boss you encounter next. Aesthetically, the game falls short of what current games have done, but the scope and spectacle of it all helps to iron out the dated graphical prowess; the solid frame rate and the wonderful sound effects don’t much hurt either.

dragons dogma dark arisen map

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen is one of those games that you generally would recommend only to that one particular friend. You know the one, who digs games like Dark Souls and Monster Hunter, games that reward you for perseverance and time investment. This time around, considering its heavy action-RPG influences that take center stage, it’s much easier to recommend this game to anyone even remotely interested in something with challenge, plenty of content, and a lot of heart.

Score

8

The Final Word

While the original issues are still present, what made Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen so special is here as well. Glorifying combat, organic progression, and a saturated world will keep you slogging through the occasional lull on your way to the heart of it.