Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Review

The game is only available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms. The review of the PC version from 2016 can be found at the link. The original Dragon’s Dogma was released in May 2012. Dragon’s Dogma may not reach the status of a classic, but it definitely deserves no less important title – the first successful example of combining the legacy of Japanese RPG ideas with what we are all so accustomed to.

Dragons Dogma Dark Arisen

Gransys, beautiful but not the friendliest region from last year’s RPG Dragon’s Dogma, where players were slashing monsters left and right, had a certain lack of originality despite its rugged attractiveness. Its expanses were a collection of fantasy clichés: all those green meadows, rocky cliffs, ominous forest thickets were everywhere, from Middle-earth to Westeros, and Capcom’s game followed these traditions very faithfully. Over the course of 60 years, Tolkien’s landscapes have become so ingrained in books, movies, and games that it’s unlikely to find a hill or valley that can be populated with orcs in a way that looks original.

Bitterblack Isle is a bay leading to a network of underground dungeons with cave passages, stone halls, and spiral staircases, and it is the heart of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen. The new game from Capcom is, in some places, an expansion, and in some places, a project that reaches the level of the original. Here, everything is not as clichéd, but there are still some familiar things.

For example, in the ghostly messages that you hear as you pass by the smoldering corpses scattered throughout the dungeon, warning you of the deadly danger that awaits ahead. In the long-legged skeletons, lunging at you, their knees creaking, in the walking armors (which have become much more agile after the knights’ demise), fencing with rapiers. In the strange helpers that you encounter on your way along the cobblestone paths covered in moss, who will gladly sell you useful herbs or armor but will always seem somewhat suspicious.

An additional disk allows you to install high -quality textures and original Japanese voice acting

The additional disc allows you to install high-quality textures and original Japanese voice acting.

Or in fake chests that you open with hope for a precious treasure, only to be attacked by a hideous creature hiding inside. In malicious dragons with singed nostrils and a heavy tail, stirred up by the scent of your former enemies’ blood, stomping through crumbling corridors with the self-satisfied importance of a hunter who knows he is much stronger than his prey. In the well-thought-out structure of the architectural puzzle of Bitterblack Isle, perfectly combined with the elegant idea of opening short paths as the secrets are unraveled.

Yes, what immediately and indisputably catches the eye is that the development team spent a lot of time in Dark Souls. The game is not devoid of authenticity, it has its own interesting ideas. But it noticeably lacks novelty, even though its dedication to the Miyazaki style works in its favor.

You arrive at Bitterblack Isle on a boat controlled by the eccentric Olra, who suffers from amnesia. Olra waits for you every night at the Cassardis pier. (Dark Arisen is not released as a downloadable add-on, but as a separate game that includes all the content from the debut release, plus a bunch of new things – including the Eternal Ferrystone, which allows instant travel around the world – as well as new enemies and a slightly redesigned interface. The new area is accessible at any time once you are ready for it. Veterans who have old saves can go there right away, but newcomers will have to level up to level 45 to withstand the evil and fat monsters that inhabit Bitterblack Isle).

14 new characters will change the tactical pattern of battle at high levels

14 new characters will change the tactical landscape of battles at high levels.

You and your companions, computer-controlled pawns – fighters, disembark on the shore and leave Olru alone with their (lost) memories. You pass through ancient arched doors, delving into the intricate structure hidden beneath the surface of the island. Its locations with delightfully grim names, like the Garden of Ignominy or the Shrine of Futile Truths, are carefully illuminated to cast dramatic shadows and allow the eye to appreciate the architecture. New enemies – Elder Ogres, blazing Pyre Saurians, and Necrophagous beasts drawn by the scent of decaying flesh – add danger to your adventures. And the mere appearance of the ghostly Grim Reaper makes your team urgently run towards the nearest exit from the Spelunky-like mazes.

Many problems of the original remain in place. You cannot target specific enemies, so precise strikes in battles with multiple aggressors are out of the question. Moreover, the animation of character movements is not as well thought out as in Dark Souls, and their speed encourages frequent attacks rather than alternating strikes and blocks. The menu navigation has been improved, of course, but essentially, it should be completely redesigned (especially considering the time spent sorting through the inventory).

However, unlike the vast expanses of the previous Dragon’s Dogma locations, Bitterblack Isle is a compact and deep area with many branching paths and hiding places. And that is much more pleasing.

The main innovation of the game, the pawn system, shines brightly in these dark depths. Alongside your own pawn, you can hire two more warriors from the secret dimension of “rifts”. Battles with three computer-controlled allies are endlessly captivating. They may not have Elizabeth’s delightfully wide eyes from BioShock Infinite, but they are much more useful. Instead of sniffing flowers, they climb onto disgusting ogres and fiercely strike at their temples. They call for help and timely heal each other and you.

Having found a destroyed fortification in the fault, you can fix it for money and make it with your new base

By finding the destroyed fortification in the rift, it is possible to repair it for money and make it your new base.

It is the presence of pawns that distinguishes the game from solo travels in the world of Dark Souls. Although the companions’ chatter can sometimes be annoying (the actors were chosen based on the characters’ physique, resulting in the short ones sounding like a helium-inhaled Julie Andrews, while the lanky ones sound like Andre the Giant), you will grow attached to them over time and will always rush to help your partner, not only because of their practical usefulness.

Many items in Bitterblack Isle are randomly placed, giving the game a resemblance to “roguelikes”, and if you find cursed armor, you will need to return to Olra on the shore, who will remove the curse and identify the item so that it can be used. Along with high-level weapons and armor, you will need to search for “augments” to develop the skills of the main character and pawns. This means that you will have to work on your build, even though you may have already spent many hours on it.

Dark Arisen, without a doubt, imprisoned by the ideas of Dark Souls But the game uses them creatively and intelligently, not just copying (which, by the way, is not that simple), but adding something of its own. Dragon’s Dogma has not yet fully defined its individuality, but this expansion allows us to understand that Capcom still has capable development teams – and there is a series that is not devoid of ambitions, which is likely to flourish over time.

7 console points out of 10
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
PS3, Xbox 360
Action, RPG
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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