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Review: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

29 Apr 2013

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is an expansion of sorts from last year’s Dragon’s Dogma.

Hardcore owners of the original Dragon’s Dogma game may want to check out Dark Arisen too since there is a wealth of additional content that is added here to prolong what is already a very long game.

If you haven’t played Dragon’s Dogma before (like me), then you are in for a ride as this action RPG features a large breathing world full of towns and menacing monsters for you to encounter.

The game starts off with an exciting tutorial as you take control of a Knight exploring caves while fending off against goblins and other unfriendly creatures.

It is here where you have a taste of the game’s very fun and fluid combat system. This isn’t your typical kind of JRPG title where battles are turned based and full of melodramatic cutscenes. Dragon’s Dogma is more inspired by Western RPG games like Skyrim and others.

The tutorial concludes when the Knight and his mates manage to kill off a Chimera. It is one of the most epic moments I’ve played in a tutorial before.

Not to mention that the hack and slash style of combat is fast paced and feels very satisfying. If an enemy is big enough, you can even climb on top of them and hack away at their weak spots.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat system more in this game than I did in Dark Souls.

Once the tutorial has concluded, you are then prompted to create your own character. You can give him/her a name and also customize their appearance to your own liking.

The options that are available to you are generous as you can alter their skin colour, body type and also their height.

The only thing that was missing is that you can’t create someone that is completely bald, nor is there any option for you to add any facial hair. This was disappointing for me since I always start of games like this by creating someone that looks like former WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin.

After you have created the appearance for your character, you can also choose their class type. The only classes that are available to you at the very beginning of the game are a Warrior, Mage or Ranger.

The great thing about the class system in this game is that you can change your class type when you further progress into the game. There are also new class types that become available too.

If you get sick of throwing magic with your staff all of the time, you can go to any town in the game and find the appropriate store so you can slice your enemies with a sword instead.

The actual game itself starts in spectacular fashion as a huge and evil dragon descends on the innocent village of Cassardis. Much like any other dragon would do, this dragon starts breathing fire and kills anything that stands in its way.

Most of the villagers start running for their lives to safety except the main character (you). Your character thinks he/she can take this dragon and starts attacking it. The character’s effort is in vain and the dragon rips out their heart and eats it.

Normally if you get your heart ripped out, this means you’re dead. Not in this game as your character gets revived as an “Arisen”. You are now the chosen one to kill the dragon that “killed’ you and stole your heart.

This is where the real game actually starts and it will be a long and arduous journey to slay the dragon that ate your heart.

Once the game starts, I came to admire the sheer scope and landscape that Capcom has created for this game. Apart from the sea (which kills you instantly) any piece of landscape that you see in this game is traversable.

The small village of Cassardis is just a small taste of the huge breathing world that has been animated. You can literally wander off by yourself at the start of the game and start exploring.

Unlike in Grand Theft Auto games, the whole game is open for you from the very start so you can explore to your heart’s content.

The only thing that is truly stopping you from getting sidetracked is the fact that many enemies lurk around. Some of the enemies are really tough so it’s best to avoid some areas in the game until you are strong enough to tackle them head on.

What I loved most about Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is that the world that has been created is a true living and breathing world that always changes.

There’s a day and night cycle plus any NPC character you see is able to speak with you. Not all characters have anything useful to say, but at least you can interact with them.

This is something that I thought was severely lacking in Assassin’s Creed III where the NPC characters were just fancy decorations more than actual living people.

The interaction is even more evident when you visit a town or city and start causing trouble. I remember hitting a store owner with my staff just to see what would happen.

I shouldn’t have been so reckless with my behaviour because I ended up getting caught by the guards and put in jail. I had to pay the guard a large amount of money just to get out…

The most unique feature about this game is that it makes use of ally partners called “pawns”. Pawns act as your allies during battles and also travel with you at all times.

You have to create one permanent pawn for yourself plus you can recruit two other pawns to join with you. The pawn system is great because they’re not the usual useless A.I. controlled allies that are usually seen in the video games.

Pawns can actually fight and are very useful to have around. Not to mention you can even talk to them and sometimes they will give you helpful advice on certain quests and/or enemies.

If you already own the original version of Dragon’s Dogma, it isn’t worth buying Dark Arisen specifically to play the new features that have been added. The new area that has been included in this expansion pack is an island called Bitterblack isle.

The island becomes available within the first hour of gameplay when a mysterious woman is in need of your help.

Bear in mind, newcomers (like myself) shouldn’t enter the island at beginning because all of the monsters are really tough. It’s recommended that you should be at level 50 and over before you visit Bitterblack isle.

In addition to the new island, Dark Arisen also includes new weapons, armour and enemies. There’s also a fast travel option added too.

This has been requested by many gamers that played the original game. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is a great action RPG that adds some fun new features that have rarely been seen in the genre before.

The pawn system is very helpful and the huge world that has been created here is nothing short of breathtaking.

Even though the main quest in the game takes several hours to complete, there is also a ton of sidequests for you to explore and undertake as well.

If you are a RPG fan and have not played Dragon’s Dogma before, getting this game is a must. If you have played the original, Dark Arisen has some nice new features, although it’s not necessary to buy the game again just to experience them unless you happen to be a very hardcore fan of the game.

Graphics: 8.0Gameplay: 8.5Sound: 7.0Lasting appeal: 8.5

Overall: 8.5

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