Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Review
We’ve returned, Arisen! Arisen?
When Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was initially announced it was supposed to be a downloadable expansion, but somewhere along the way plans changed and Dark Arisen became part of a re-release of the original Dragon’s Dogma game. Either way, Capcom has promised hours of new content via a trip to a whole new location along with some other improvements. The question is, did they do enough to warrant a purchase of the whole game again? Let’s head to Bitterblack Isle and find out.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen includes all of the original Dragon’s Dogma game plus a new, expansion, area called Bitterblack Island. Since we’ve already reviewed the original game, when it came out, I’m not going to go too in depth into the game as a whole. This review will primarily cover the new content that has been added in the Dark Arisen expansion. For more more on the main game, read our Dragon’s Dogma review.
Before we do get to the new content, I want to talk about one big improvement that comes in with Dark Arisen and effects the game as a whole. The fast-travel system that was so poorly implemented as to be almost non-existent has been tweaked to provide a much better experience. For those of you who may be new to Dragon’s Dogma, you could basically only travel back to one spot in the main city using an item called Ferrystones. These items were hideously expensive to buy, forcing you to walk almost everywhere you wanted to go. This system really hindered the game experience as you were often walking the same stretch of road, and fighting the same enemies, over and over on journeys that could take half an hour or more just to get to a small side quest.
Very late in the game you could find another Portcrystal which you can place in a area of your choosing but it was too little too late. However, with Dark Arisen, Capcom have scattered a number of new Portcrystals around the world map and made Ferrystones much less expensive, effectively creating a much needed fast-travel system.
If you’re starting the game for the first time, it’s probably going to be a while before you head to Bitterblack Isle. You’ll have to at least complete the main story missions up until they take you to the city of Gran Soren. You’ll likely want to hold off until much later in the game though, as the enemies on Bitterblack can be quite tough. Especially the bosses.
Bitterblack Isle has its own job board where you can take on quests, as well a couple of different characters you can talk to. There is an underlying story going on here but you’ll have to work to uncover it. Without very many cut scenes, and only a few conversations, the Dark Arisen story can mostly be found on a few stones on the ground that will piece together on a pillar near the start of the area as you find them.
What you’ll be doing for most of your stay on the Isle is crawling through a huge dungeon. This is the most interesting, and well laid out dungeon in the entire game, with many levels, secrets, shortcuts, and unlockable areas. You’ll always need to be on the lookout for hard to see side passages and secret ledges you can jump up to.
Unfortunately, as fun as it is to run around in, the enemies in this dungeon are badly balanced. Most minor foes can be dispatched in one or two hits by mid-level characters and don’t offer enough experience to advance your character to a level where he or she is going to be able to deal with the bosses. The bosses of Dark Arisen are insanely powerful, with some having upwards of ten full health bars and some that can kill a high level character in one hit.
If you can handle the hour-long boss fights, and are sufficiently stocked with healing items, you can have a good time hunting for new loot and new secrets on Bitterblack but make sure you come prepared. The new content can be completed in six to eight hours and I’m just not sure that can justify the cost.
There are no traditional multiplayer modes in Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen but you can still go online and hire other player’s Pawn characters to join your party.
The fact that Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen leaves fans of the original game out in the cold, as far as the new content goes, can’t be ignored. What they’re asking you to do is spend an additional $40 to get the version of the game that has a few new hours of dungeon crawling and that isn’t right. Now, if you’re a new customer you should think seriously about buying Dark Arisen because the already very good, original, game is still in there and it now has a fast-travel system. Unfortunately the new content isn’t good enough to be a major selling point for old fans or new players.
Available On: Xbox 360 / PS3