Making its debut last year in May 2012 and being a surprise hit and success, Dragon’s Dogma makes a return with an expansion. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was released on April 26th containing the original game and the expansion. In the expansion, players have the chance to tackle a much more challenging new area called Bitterblack Isle. With new monsters and new equipment to hunt for, players will spend more hours venturing in this unforgiving dungeon.
Dragon’s Dogma has been compared to many big title games with its similar combat system, art and party system. Any player can easily pick up on the simplicity of the game and head straight into the fields of Gransys without a long lengthy introduction and learning ropes to teach players how to control your character. It’s a fairly intuitive game with all buttons shown on screen that pressing a button activates this skill or action. Though the depth of the skills and classes available to choose from gives players their own choice on how to play and fight. From the start, players can choose from three basic ‘vocations’; Fighter, Mage or Strider. After which, with some experience, it can be expanded into new vocations and more skills to unlock.
The intuitive and immersive combat system is the core of what makes Dragon’s Dogma such an addictive game. Every encounter with every monster you meet in Gransys either that is in the fields, dungeons or in Bitterblack Isle, you gain knowledge from them if you find a particular weakness or a certain way to deal with the foe. Your AI allies known as ‘pawns’ learn from this and behave more appropriately to the enemy and act accordingly to defeat your foes. Such as the Saurian type monsters whose sole weakness are their tails which, if chopped off, reduces their defences significantly. Another feature is the ability to grapple and grab enemies and objects which make it much more challenging as certain types of enemies are near invulnerable unless you strike at a certain weak point on their body.
Story side of Dragon’s Dogma is a bit hard to follow as bits and pieces of it can be picked up through the main story quests and can be easily dismissed. Straight forward and easy to digest at times, Dragon’s Dogma makes adventuring at your own peril with your own interpretation of what it is. The expansion dwells into more of a twisted tale of darkness and unknown as you explore the vast dungeons of Bitterblack Isle. You come across tablets as you unlock a past Arisen’s tale of his past explaining the events that led to you coming to Bitterblack Isle.
With the expansion included with the original game, it adds more hours of replayable value as you can continuously return back into the Bitterblack Isle dungeons to score some powerful items. The enemies are incredibly powerful so venturing forth into these dungeons will take hours to complete as each encounter will be leaving you needing to recuperate or finding a new tact to dispose of your foes.
Overall the new expansion is a great experience to come back to with new challenges and enemies to test your skills on. Some of the most memorable fights and end game boss fights are in this expansion as you use all your items and skills to bring them down. The story is a twisted love story which reminds me of a Romeo and Juliet theme style where one sacrifices his own for the other to live on in their memory. Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen is a must for all newcomers and veterans looking for a challenging but yet fun-addictive hack and slash large open-world environment with limitless customisation with all aspects of your characters and allies.
Release Date: May 24th 2013 (Xbox 360 – Reviewed/PS3)