A little of History
Originally released as Dragon’s Dogma in 2012 on PS3 & Xbox 360, this cult classic went on to sell 1.5 million copies worldwide within the initial two months of its release. Favourable reviews led to the enhanced version of the game, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen being released in 2013, now available on Nintendo Switch.
Our story begins when small village of Cassardis is attacked by a Dragon. The protagonist is the only one that comes face to face with the Dragon but loses. The Dragon claiming their heart. Surprisingly our protagonist remains alive after, and thus marking them as the “Arisen”, a figure destined to face the Dragon and stop the coming apocalypse.
Sound a bit cliche? Not to fear this is just the tip of the iceberg on this grand adventure that will be undertaken. The story is a grand epic that will have something everyone will like. It had me captivated from the start to the end.
Dragon’s Dogma is third-person action-RPG where you have a party of up to four characters, all set in a fantasy medieval open world.
Character creation in Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen gives you a good array of features to choose from. You’ll start with the sex, general body type, voice, name and Monika (for players with parental settings on) can be picked. Once these are done, it is time to customise the hair, face shape, eyes, ears and so on, from a set list of 35 to 40 different pre-made features for each part. The height, weight and muscles can be altered, and then the adding any scars or tattoo you wish.
The first time I played Dragon’s Dogma, I spent almost an hour on my character making it look just how I wanted. (Character look is not permanent and can be altered in-game)
After you’ve created your protagonist, you get to pick a starting class. These are broken down into three primary groups;
Basic – Starting classes
Fighter – Melee fighter – Sword Shield
Strider – Ranged fighter – Bow or daggers
Mage – Magic-user – Staff
Advanced Classes – An improved version of the Basic classes, and
Mixed Classes – Take two elements from different classes and combines them.
Leveling up with a class will improve different Stats, for instance, level up while being a Fighter will boost health and melee attack, whereas mage will increase magic power and defence.
Classes themselves also rank up as you level up. In combat you will also earn experience points after killing an enemy as well as discipline points (DP) which are allocated as a percentage of the EXP earned. DP is used to unlock new abilities, jobs, augments. The pawn and player have their own DP pools.
Pawns are the loyal servants of the player. This is where the multiplayer aspect of Dragon’s Dogma comes into play. The party that the protagonist starts of with is made up of other players pawns (or computer generated pawns).
Once the pawn has been created at the first Rift Stone, it is then possible to enter the Rift Stone itself and hire the help of other players pawns, think of the Rift Stone as an online mercenary marketplace. If a pawn is at the players current level or lower the pawn will be free to hire, but it will cost the player if they’re at a higher level.
Sending your created pawns out on other people party’s will level them up. You will also learn about monsters that you have not encounter, and learn about quests and give hints.
Pawns are vital for success in Dragon’s Dogma. Your own Pawn needs to be as upgraded and leveled up as the player does. Make sure to take the time on picking pawns to fill roles that are missing and keep the pawns as much as possible at the players level, as a lower level pawn can at times be a hindrance more than a help.
Combat varies from class to class. If you have played modern Action-RPG most of the game will have a familiar feel to it. Managing your health, stamina, and mana are the keys to victory here. Dogma also introduces the unique ability of grabbing opponents and holding them down. For bigger enemies there’s the chance to scale them to find weak spots or attack certain body parts. Don’t be fooled though, the learning curve is steep here, so take your time and plan your attack before taking it head on.
Within the world of Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen, enemies come in all shapes and sizes. There are humans, goblins, wolfs, then a giants cyclops. Some of the enemies can be mounted; they are that big, the Dragons for example. There are a lot of beautiful and terrifying things wanting to kill you and probably will.
Along with this, there is a day and night cycle where enemies are different. When it turns from day to night anf the darkness sets in, trust me, it’s dark. Enemies will be outside of the lamplight, cloaked in the black of night. Needless to say night travel is only for the hardy or the desperate of travelers.
The soundtrack for a game with such scope has to be equal in magnitude. Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen’s soundtrack was recorded by roughly 130 musicians and choir singers of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. It does not disappoint the music is simply outstanding. Big grand performances, it made me feel as if i was apart of something earth moving and each battle was grander then most where.
The game is fully voice acted, apart from the protagonist, and a lot of the NPCs seem as if they have just woken up from a heavy night on the town and were told to say their line.
The sound effects are really well done in the game. There’s a rich quality to the sound from even running around on the grass to the shouting of goblins as they see a human, is all crisp and sounds excellent. Some of the best sound effects are the spells within the game. Each spell sound so good; really packing a punch.
The Audio is of high quality and stands the test of time, the music would be at home in any grand fantasy game or film.
Visuals & Performance
It’s been seven years since the original was released. It still looks good and wouldn’t look too out of place in the modern day. There are a few technical gripes here and there like pop-up and loading problems, but this is to be expected from a game so big and vast, again nothing majorly game breaking
Performance Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen runs fine docked. In handheld mode there were a few loading issues and some drops in the framerate. To get the best out of performance and looks I would recommend playing on docked mode. Here is where the game really shines.
At $29.99 / £24.99 all I want to do is scream out is buy it! For any RPG fan Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen is worth every penny, even if you played it all those years ago it’s worth jumping back in.
I have it on PS3 and PS4, and I bought it on Switch. It is that good.
Physical – YES!
Here is another excellent RPG in the form of Vaporum a Dungeon Crawler
100+ hours gameplay
Value for money
The Pawn system
Steep learning curve
Can be overwhelming with things learn
Framerate drops in handheld mode
Loading in the landscape and pop-ups