First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.
Ladies and Lads, I present you with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen!
If your first instinct when you see a majestic red dragon is to climb it, then look no further. This game is about bombing big monsters with powerful spells and stabbing them in their weak spots with sharp swords and knives. Regardless of how awesome it is to bring down giants, the game also offers smaller denizens common to standard fantasy settings: goblins, wolves, skeletons and zombies. These creatures’ smaller size doesn’t make them any less hard to kill, since almost every enemy comes in packs.
Bad bird to the bone.
A tranquil fishing village is attacked by a huge, vicious scaly red dragon that breathes fire and destruction onto the populace. The hero decided it was a good idea to charge the monster with a sword. However, one does not bring a toothpick to a monster fight and expect to win. The resulting one-sided battle ends with the hero losing his heart, and the beast proclaiming that only worthies can face him and reclaim what they have lost.
This begs the question, “What is your favorite way to hunt monsters?” Blowing them up with powerful spells and clipping their wings with a well placed fireball? You can do that. Bring them down with a swarm of arrows from afar? That is also a valid option. After all, each enemy has a weakness to exploit. Skillfully blocking and taking damage, or bashing enemy heads with a hammer? You can do those, as well. You can also climb beasts with a dagger in each hand. This is also where replay value comes in.
Each class is different and team composition can be set to anything that catches the player’s fancy. Personally I went with a ranger supported by a shield-bashing warrior, a vastly overpowered sorcerer and a healer. The party is unfortunately limited to 3 members.
For people looking for a challenge, there is a speed-run mode and various difficulties, where player-levels carry over. Switching difficulties resets the story mode, so beware! Naturally in such a game there are a ton of side quests and quirky characters who have much to say!
I almost took an arrow to the knee.
Hirelings in the game are known as “pawns”, and they can be obtained from other players or random encounters in the world. Each player makes a secondary computer-controlled character that levels up along with the player. This person can be changed into any class each time the player visits an inn. As the story progresses, they will learn and adapt. This means that if I started to throw citizens around, eventually the pawn would start doing the same, as well. It’s not recommended though. When a pawn is let go, the player it was hired from will get a special currency and the pawn will retain all its knowledge.
Tiny monsters to kill.
The character creation menu is what you’d expect from a fantasy game. One thing to keep in mind is that weight plays an important part when it comes to the grabbing mechanic. A heavy person will hold down a flying foe, while a light one will hang on for dear life as the enemy takes off!
Each of the classes has different skills, play styles and weapons. These can be upgraded with various materials that litter the world. The graphics are quite good and do an effective job of conveying the thoughtfully crafted world. The game runs at a steady 60 FPS. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen also allows players to walk almost anywhere they please. Though due to the RPG nature of the mechanics, there are plenty of invisible walls along the path to a given location. Technically savvy players can take on monsters of much higher level and stab them to death with a thousand paper cuts; ineffective and time consuming as that may be. Spells and skills are very satisfying to use and can be upgraded to more powerful variants as the player progresses. A tiny icicle will turn into a huge pillar of death somewhere down the line.
Climbing a cyclops.
The game itself is quite simple to master and very intuitive, with plenty of tutorials to go around. However, its “grindy” nature and vast traveling distances will be off-putting for a lot of people.
Is it fun? Hell yes, it is. I never play games for long that are not fun. After sinking many hours into the wonderfully brutal world of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, I can honestly say that you can’t go wrong with this title…especially since the PC version fixed various performance issues. The PS3 version had many frame drops and stuttering due to the insane size of some monsters and the special effects being thrown around.
While the combat is fun and satisfying, it’s also accompanied by a fabulous score. A ton of voice actors do a great job conveying the dialogue, with many English accent variants from around the globe.
I have to remember this place before it’s covered in corpses.
Combat is based around skills and the player’s ability to negate damage, while pawns do their best to fight alongside. However the latter are kind of dumb and prone to stupid things, such as falling off ledges while carrying your loot.
Something else you’ll notice is that people and pawns never stop talking. Certain spots trigger dialogue, and every encounter has its own banter. This is gets old quickly, especially when it comes to encounters with wolves; which are weak against fire. By the way, did I mention that they hate fire, and that they hunt in packs and can be killed with fire?
The game itself can be bought at the usual places, including Steam and Humble Bundle. The version I got came with a soundtrack and a digital art book.
The Steam store page: