For next-gen consoles, there really hasn’t been too many challenging games out there to test your skills with. Yes, there are games like Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls that will make you want to throw the controller across the room and there are games like Skyrim which isn’t too challenging but is extremely addictive to play. Dragon’s Dogma is really a perfect mix of these two titles. But keep in mind that Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen is not a sequel to the original Dragon’s Dogma, it is an expansion much like Dragon Age’s Awakening (Dark Arisen includes the full original game as well). So, if you missed Dragon’s Dogma the first time around, which edition should you pick up or should you even take on the adventure?
Much like Dark Souls, the game mostly focuses on really fun gameplay and the challenge of defeating difficult monsters rather than telling an amazing heroic story. To start out, you create your own hero and a Pawn (Creatures that the Arisen can summon and accompany you into battle). While at the village, a massive dragon attacks the town. After failing to defeat the dragon, the dragon mentions that you are the “Chosen One” and proceeds to take out the protagonist heart (Gross I know but it’s not as gory as you would think). Later you arise alive and become known as an Arisen, a human who has had their heart stolen by the dragon (Which is considered to be the end of days very much like Alduin in Skyrim). In order to save the land and get your heart back, you must set out on a quest to slay this dragon. It sounds like a really good time but unfortunately, the story progresses at such a slow rate (Because of so many side quests and missions in between the main ones) that it is hard to remember or even care about killing the dragon. There was no sense of urgency to kill this Dragon and not many people seemed frightened by this Dragon who was supposed to represent the end of the world.
There are very few games that really reward those who tread extremely carefully and those who prepare before setting off on a quest (Much like the Witcher). This is one game that really does require constant vigilance and forces you to keep a watchful eye. Depending on what curatives you are taking with you to battle may be the difference between a successful mission or a game over. This is because of the tough enemies that linger about and can send you to the continue screen faster than you can say “WTF mate!” But when you do take down a tough enemy, it will make you feel that you earned it (Much like Demon’s Souls did). I must say that the fighting in this game was responsive, weighty and fun. It plays a lot like a typical hack & slash but with extra weapon abilities that you can easily access with the push of a button. Some enemies in this game are huge but have no fear because you can actually attach onto large enemies and climb on them. This is extremely useful on certain enemies because you can strike their weak points allowing you critical hits. Be wary though, as long as you are attached to the enemy, you are constantly draining your stamina bar. Not only can you climb enemies but you can even pick up smaller enemies like Goblins or Bandits and throw them (I highly recommend throwing a goblin off a huge cliff, it’s quite comical… well for you not the goblin of course).
At the beginning of the game you can choose between 3 vocations (Strider, Fighter, and Mage). Don’t worry about not liking a certain vocation because once you get to the main town called Gran Soren, you can change to any number of vocations. Depending upon which vocation (Type of Character you play as, ex. Assassin, Warrior, Strider, Mage etc.) and level of the vocation you will have a set of abilities that you can learn and incorporate into battle (3 at a time per weapon, ex. 3 Sword abilities, 3 Bow & Arrow abilities, and 3 Shield abilities). You have your basic attack and heavy attack which don’t require stamina but on top of that you can use your abilities. Each time you use an ability, it will take up some of your stamina bar. Over time, you can regain that stamina back automatically or use items to refill your stamina bar faster. The higher vocation you are, the stronger and better the weapon abilities are. One example for an assassin is called the “Full Bend” ability. This makes it so that when you knock back the next arrow, it will be a very fast and very powerful shot. Of course because this arrow is stronger and does more damage, it takes more time than a normal attack to ready it. When improving to the upgraded ability to “Mighty Bend”, the arrow is readied at a quicker rate thus allow for faster successive firing.
Even though this game does not support multiplayer in the sense of two players playing together at one time, you can however take other players created characters and use them in battle. In Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen, there are people called “Pawns” who are summoned from other Dimensions to aid you in combat (You can summon up to 2 Pawns at one time to fight for you). Your created pawn is a lot like your own character where you can decide what vocation he is, what he looks like, the abilities he possesses and more. Other online players’ Pawns that you summon from Rift Stones do not level up though. If they were to be summoned as a level 32, they will stay at level 32 no matter how many monsters you slay. Because of this it is important to switch to new and higher level Pawns after you have leveled up a few times yourself. (Much like using a weapon that you picked up towards the beginning of the game and using it later, it won’t be nearly as effective as your newer weapons. So if you’re taking other players Pawns, does that mean someone else can take yours? Yes and when they do your character gains either quest knowledge or enemy knowledge so they may have a better strategy in battle against certain foes. Not only that but if the person is nice enough to leave your pawn with an item, it will become yours in your own game (In order to receive the knowledge and items though you need to rest at an inn).
Prepare to pick up and sort through A LOT of loot in this game by the way. It seemed like every box I smashed had stored some sort of potion or artifact that I could snag. Even though having lots of loot sounds like a good time, it can be detrimental to your fighting abilities. Carrying heavier loads in your inventory will effect how fast you move in this game. Walking around slower on the battlefield can lead to having a harder time avoiding attacks or fleeing from battle. Keep this in mind when traveling great distances and make sure to dump off any items you are not using to inn keepers.
It is no Skyrim but it still is quite nice to look at. The open world you travel is massive allowing for hours of exploration of all types of terrain and structures such as castles, mountains, catacombs, tombs, forests, villages and much more. Character detail is quite high and you will rarely run into the same looking person over again while strolling through towns. Huge enemies are not uncommon and when they fill up your screen, it is a really fun experience and quite a sight to see when you take them down (It reminded me a lot of Shadow of the Colossus).
As you may know, this is the original Dragon’s Dogma game with an added dlc to it. So what are those bonuses and are they worth the extra investment.
It will include:
1. A new dungeon to explore called Bitterblack Isle
2. Over 30 new enemies to slay
3. Over a 100 new pieces of weapons and armor
4. Rock some new hairdos with new hairstyles to choose from when customizing your character
I really enjoyed this game. It has been a while since any game has given me a real challenge and this really scratched that itch. So to answer my question is Dragon’s Dogma worth a shot, I would have to say definitely. Now the other question, is Dark Arisen worth it or should I stick with the original? My suggestion, go with Dark Arisen because there is enough content in the add on dlc that make it well worth the extra $10.00 difference in price of the game (Dragon’s Dogma $29.99 & Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is $39.99). If you do end up giving it a shot less us know what you thought of it.