There are not many more surprise success in the world of game console aversion to risk, but last year Dragon’s Dogma was one of them. It is an ambitious action-RPG with excellent combat system, a great sense of adventure, and a series of technical weaknesses that make it harder to love than it should be. But at the lower price and with many additional hours of content endgame, that highlight the capabilities of one of the most talented development teams internally Capcom in a new context, Dragon’s Dogma is much more attractive this time.
Dark Arisen includes the full version of Dragon’s Dogma – with some minor adjustments – and a good 10 to 15 hours of new adventures on a black mysterious island that rises from the sea outside the village of Cassardis fishermen. Do not be fooled by its starting investment area, however; new content is designed for post-game, and if you do not wear on a high level of backup file from the original Dragon Dogma you slayed. In fact, even if you are high, you are still very likely to get slayed; The difficulty of Bitterblack Isle sometimes threatens to cross the line between hard fist-eatingly and simply unfair. That said, I like this kind of challenge, even if lucky sometimes seems to have more to do with my success as skill.
The new dungeon on Bitterblack Isle is a deeply unpleasant place, in the sense that he did a great job to evoke an atmosphere of despair and apprehension. My forays into the depths places like the rotunda of Dread and the sanctuary of Futile Truths were tentative and often ended ignominiously. It looks so bad in places that you can almost smell of death, and for the first few hours I was captivated by its blackness. In its last third, however, there are several enemies that can kill you in one shot even if you are experienced, who feels deeply unfair; same level 100+ characters can be sent immediately. At least in the fields of Gransys, you can always run away from all that the creature was kicking your ass. This does not really want an option in these claustrophobic corridors. The temptation is to inch down their flaming lantern, saving every 35 seconds. Pro-tip: do not try to take the death. It almost never works.
When you have a chance to fight, at least, the heart of Dragon’s Dogma call remains his real big fight. You can be a mage standard, ranger, or warrior to start, but things get interesting when you are allowed to start mixing in unusual combinations, like a magic archer, and you can switch between classes at will if your style current game is getting stale. I want to switch between close-up magic and fighting, throwing flame walls to a chimera of a fabulous dress sorcerer an hour and desperately clinging to the leg while stabbing a Cyclops to his knees with a sword on the other. The challenge is rewarding; feel hard earned victories, and exploration is more exciting when you know you are in a real danger.
This sense of adventure is what really hooked on Dragon’s Dogma. Out in the desert feels like a real expedition. You must spend time prepare, gather knowledge on a quest, and adjusting your party and equipment, because once you are there there is nothing and no one to save you when the night begins to fall. It inspires real fear when the sun begins to set and I’m still far from wherever I can be safe for the night. Visibility fails after dark, and the most dangerous creatures out of hiding: the undead, fantasies and powerful bandits who expect the cover of darkness before they strike. You never know what is out there.
But here’s a hint: huge monsters that are bosses in most other games roam the deserts, forcing you to either flee or fight to your last breath at unexpected times. Climbing these beasts to hack away bravely at their head as they thrash around brings back fond memories of Shadow of the Colossus. At best it feels like a synthesis of the challenge and the versatility of Dark Souls and satisfactory physical Monster Hunter.
Dragon’s Dogma main problem, apart from these technical features forgivable, remains deeply insipid fiction and writing that envelop its action-RPG gameplay. The land is beautiful and compelling Gransys explorable, but people and quests that inhabit it are, mostly, about as interesting and tasty as cement. The exception is the end, which is sublimely bonkers. I did not even know exactly how crazy it was when I saw him last year. Even thousands of players still together to discover the full range of bizarre permutations.
Really, it’s new players where Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen has the best value: it is a bigger, better version of one of the most interesting games of last year with a price. But get all the way through the expansion content is an endurance test, and not always pleasant. I was obliged to give up before the end, and I would venture that will be the case for all but the most dedicated players. These are the players who have the most time in Dragon’s Dogma, who feel rewarded with new challenges in expansive Bitterblack Isle.
It is fan service, but it also shows the development team to apply his talents in a different context from the original game, creating a dungeon crawl well designed rather than the open world of Gransys (that is so ambitious that . often rubs technical limitations) for all those who loved Dark Souls or dogma of the original dragon, it is a tantalizing glimpse of what a result – or maybe Deep Down – might have to offer.
It is difficult to argue that Dragon’s Dogma is a universally great game. It’s about combat and exploration, but the quests are often boring, fiction is turgid and technical problems are unignorable. But it is a very good game, and it is so interesting that I am inclined to forgive most of his problems because he succeeded in these respects. The content of the Dark Arisen extension pushes the boundaries of fairness towards the end and saves its best rewards for the most dedicated, but in terms of design and ambience is an encouraging sign of what this talented team could come up with next. At this budget price, Dragon’s Dogma is absolutely worth trying.