Article first published as PlayStation 3 Review: Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on Blogcritics.
It’s been just short of a year since I originally reviewed Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma. It was a pleasant surprise since I had seen the game at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles the year before, but was unable to really get a grip on what the game was about. Dragon’s Dogma is action RPG that falls somewhere between Oblivion or Skyrim, Demon’s Souls and Shadow of the Colossus. Like the Elder Scrolls games, Dragon’s Dogma gives players an open world to explore, but random difficulty spikes can really put a wrench in your plans. Like an action-adventure game, your character can jump and climb obstacles and even monsters.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for old school gamers is basically Super Dragon’s Dogma. The release includes the original game with a handful of improvements and a pretty tough 15 hours of extra content in the new location. It’s not as if the main game isn’t tough enough though and Capcom recommends players reach at least level 50 before attempting the island. As I said last year, even regular travel is dangerous and auto-saves can be a ways apart. This new edition does offer some extra fast travel ability. Those that transfer their save game from the original get a huge travelling bonus.
Dark Arisen offers 25 new enemies, including Death, who I wouldn’t recommend taking on if you haven’t saved in awhile. There is nothing more frustrating than an instant death if you haven’t been diligent. That brings me to another point. Dragon’s Dogma requires a lot of discipline. You need to save often and don’t try to take on more than you can handle. You don’t have to tip toe through areas like in Demon’s Souls, but it’s easy to end up surrounded and over your head. That and a random griffon dropping out of the sky can put an end to an escort mission awfully quick.
Like Skyrim, the narrative in Dragon’s Dogma is pretty light. That’s the price we currently pay for most open world games. This is evidenced most notably in the ending scenes of Dragon’s Dogma that lack more than a hint of context from your adventure. The lack of purpose is remedied somewhat in the new area of Bitterback Isle. Once you arrive, you’re given pretty good direction about what your goal is and there is a real story to unearth. Once you’ve done everything, the ending stops your adventure, but the game does offer a new game plus option to let you redo things a little differently.
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