Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen is a third person action fantasy game where the player must take down many mythical creatures to save the land of Gransys. As the game unfolds the player will find that there’s always something new and interesting going on, whether through a part of the plot or finding a new strategy to beat a monster, a seemingly simple game proves interestingly complex.
The plot at its simplest is to slay the dragon, but for those who look there’s so much more. A duke with no right to his position, a cult that’s awakening monsters and a cycle of godly creators watching over the world. It’s easy to miss a detail if you don’t communicate with certain characters, accept a certain mission or die at just the right moment.
Obviously to gain everything requires exploration which can be hard early on but becomes easier as your team gets stronger. There’s a lot of walking to do in a land populated by monsters that become irritating after a while, luckily there is a form of fast travel involving placeable stones. A key feature is the grab button which allows for a bit of climbing and ledge grabbing to be performed as well as movement of items such as corpses.
Combat is basically a bit of a button basher with light and heavy attacks as well as skills that can be activated on command, against regular enemies it feels a fairly standard and a bit dull. However taking on a boss such as a chimera or a hydra sees the player desperately fighting to keep their AI teammates alive as the team struggles to climb the monster, wildly slashing to tear off a piece of the beast. Big boss battles are where this game shines as all the serious mechanics like elemental weaknesses, critical attack spots and major status effects come into play. You can be slowed, blinded, petrified, weakened, lit on fire, drenched, poisoned or put to sleep. Positive status effects can enhance your abilities in battle and add elemental enchantments to weapons.
The thing that Dragons Dogma does better than any other game is companions. The game is designed to be played with a team of four, the player and three AI controlled teammates which is fairly standard. The thing is that the player can design one companion to be how they want but must gain the remaining party members from an online pool of other players companions. Companions learn from battles and quests meaning the really do improve in a fight or will give you direction if they’ve already done something. It’s all about becoming stronger to take on stronger foes and choosing a good team that’s both knowledgeable and full of powerful attacks is a huge strategic process.
The Dark Arisen part of the title refers to a section of the game that expands how much there is to do. While the game focuses on the dragon and some end game content, it’s really all about the new game plus which becomes boring after a few goes. Dark Arisen brings a new major set of bosses in a tougher area where players who feel overpowered will become helpless babies if they’re unprepared. In the Dark Arisen section there are new creatures and some incredibly powerful optional bosses. The early game is hellish and Dark Arisen brings back that feeling.
Overall, I’d say Dragon’s Dogma is an excellent game with some really satisfying combat and the best companions ever (even if their personalities are a bit wooden). The thing that stops me putting it as great is the new game plus cycle because one playthrough is desirable and having to redo some missions can be a pain. If I liked replying more then this would be one of my top five best ever as it’s the right mix of charm and difficulty.
This game goes on offer quite often on digital stores and is reasonably priced without deals. I’d definitely recommend.