With the original game releasing in 2012, and the Dark Arisen expansion in 2013, Dragons Dogma, developed and published by Capcom, was an overlooked hidden gem, but loved by all who played it. Now in 2017, it has been revived and remastered for the PS4 and Xbox One and been given another chance to shine in my Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Review.
Many describe it as an ‘easier dark souls’, and I would say that is accurate. This action role-playing hack and slash game does very much have the feel of ‘dark souls’ games but feels more accessible (especially for people like me who suck at dark souls).
Large monsters, tough boss fights and a world where thoroughly exploring will unravel more and more story.
Review Side Quest
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How does it play?
If you played the original release, then nothing has really changed here in terms of gameplay. You know what to expect, the game is still super fun and feels even better to play with an up-to-date controller in your hands.
For those who haven’t played yet (what have you been doing with your lives?), the game is a cult classic for a reason. Magic feels truly powerful, great-swords feel meaty, and whatever weapon you use feels like you’re actually doing some damage.
The gameplay itself has a weighty feeling to it which links into its inventory system. The more you’re carrying, the slower you’ll be. It’s realistic and will have you strategizing who will carry what so that you and your team (if you choose one) aren’t all walking slow.
Originally, the idea was that you explore every inch of the world on foot, and fast travel was a luxury. Now, however, Capcom has graciously given you an ‘eternal ferrystone’.
Ferrystones are one-time use items that allow you to fast travel between ‘Portcrystals’ that you have set down in the world. You still have to explore to find and place where you want your fast travel points to be, but now you won’t need to keep stocking up on ferrystones whenever you run low, which is good for multiple playthroughs, and people who are just impatient.
Presentation and Graphics
Dragon’s Dogma was never the best-looking game, but anyone who’s played it will tell you that doesn’t matter. The game oozes charm, and never stutters or suffers any framerate issues. It also has one of the better character creations in games that I have seen.
The music is so very memorable. You will constantly hear the main motif while running about doing your own thing, but it’s not invasive. For example, going outside city gates by day or by night will feature the same tune, but at night it will be a quiet hum with a single woman’s voice, singing softly into the night.
Sure, it’s not that big of a deal, but little things like this are what makes the game remarkable. Capcom put their all into this game and even years later, it shows.
The game starts with you playing as someone else. This is technically the tutorial, but it also serves as the foundation for the lore and the rest of the game. Once that section is done, your story begins with the Dragon attacking your village and taking your heart, thus branding you Arisen.
Your goal is to kill the dragon and get your heart back. Travelling the world of Gransys and talking to the people though, can reveal some important lore that you may remember later and everything will click. Though you know the basics of what you’re doing, the story is everywhere and the lore is deep. You just have to want to find it.
The Dark Arisen expansion makes a return in the remaster (obviously), and this add-on has you visiting Bitterblack Isle, which is home to fearsome creatures that are really tough to take down, and definitely don’t go there if you’re below level 60 at least. If anything, this is the most like ‘Dark Souls’ compared to the rest of the game. It’s even called Dark Arisen!
Gotta love all that pawn…
A huge feature of Dragons Dogma is the pawn system. Towards the beginning of the game, you will get to create your pawn, which serves as your travelling companion. You can choose their looks, class, and even personality. You will come across odd-looking rocks called ‘riftstones’, and interacting with one will activate the online portion of the game.
In this online portion, you are stood in the rift, which is the world of pawns, and you can choose to hire other people’s pawns into your game, provided you have enough rift crystals. You can hire up to two pawns, and have a full party of four including you and yours.
Depending on how you like to play, this can add a strategic element. For example, I’m an archer, my main pawn is a fighter, and I usually like to hire two magic pawns, one that specializes in healing, and one in damage dealing, for a balanced party.
Of course, this all worked perfectly before in the original release. I get the feeling Capcom have been lazy with maintaining it because the service goes down way too often.
Sleeping in an inn also uploads your pawn data, but when the service is down, your character can do nothing but stand there while the game tries to connect. It doesn’t take long, even when it’s playing up, but long enough to pull you out of the game and get pretty annoyed by it.
Should I play this?
This game still holds up after all these years. It’s not the best looking, sure, but it’s fun and that’s the most important thing. Including the original release, I have now played this game fourteen times, and as of writing this, I’m on my fifteenth playthrough. There’s just no stopping me!
Gamers that should…
Anyone who likes RPG’s, hack and slash games, action adventures, even Dark Souls fans should jump in on this.
Gamers that shouldn’t…
Anyone who wants the story right in their faces, and anyone who isn’t into RPG’s and exploratory games.
Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur (which is also a gem, remaster it please!), Dragon Age: Origins, Bloodborne, and of course, Dark Souls.
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Lore||Online Pawn Service||Nothing during review|
About This Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Review
Game Reviewed: Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen, digital edition provided by publisher
Review Format: Xbox One
PEGI Rating: 18