Rated M for Mature
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed) and PS3
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is the stand-alone expansion to the exciting Dragon’s Dogma universe and packs more evil punch than the original. The expansion is for those hardcore fans who didn’t get enough the first go-around and want more dark, grisly action this time. The best part of the game is that it comes with the original so those who haven’t played it before can start from the beginning.
The expansion comes with tons of new skills for professions, armor, weapons, pawn augments and much more. For the mere price of $39.99, players who haven’t played the original will get a darker and more expanded experience in Dragon’s Dogma. Gamers will start off in the massive cove of Bitterblack Isle. You will travel to the island by a rickety boat accompanied by a strange character by the name of Olra. By some dark faith, you find this odd character on a dark pier one night in Cassardis. Once players and their AI-controlled pawn land on the shore, this is when your journey really starts. Olra will lead you through a set of ancient doors into the creepy areas that lie beneath the island’s surface. The dark cavernous labyrinths here will tell their own story as mutated corpses line the grounds and eerie messages appear from beyond their graves. The dead warn you of the dangers ahead, but you push forward. You will dodge rambling skeletons who will jab at you in all their clumsiness. Elder Ogres and giant Grim Reapers will appear to remind you of not only the difficulties ahead but the horror. It is within the dark hallways and cobbled pathways that the mood is really set for the remainder of the game.
The cursed island of Bitterblack Isle is home to a one of the largest dragons to date, and Capcom suggests being at least level 50 before you attempt to face the new enemies ahead. The design of Bitterblack Island is like a grand, complex puzzle with secrets scattered throughout waiting to be discovered. Players will venture into this open-world action RPG full of possibilities to battle against over 25 new enemies while exploring the cryptic undergrounds ahead. The first differences that will be noticed is that travel is much easier this time around and the menu has been vastly approved. Dark Arisen can be difficult with monsters coming at you every few minutes, and you can expect to complete the game in around 15-20 hours depending on how many times you die.
Many problems still remain that were seen in the original with the game lacking a sense of precision within its combat mechanics. Players are still unable to lock onto enemies, which causes all sorts of problems when taking on several monsters at once. Inventory management is still tiresome and requires a great deal of effort to properly manage–which has a huge impact on everything within the game. Among these problems is when the best elements of the game truly shine through and the pawn system is simply amazing. Players can now hire other AI pawns to assist them in battle and makes some of the problems of the game much easier to swallow.
If having your very own posse wasn’t exciting enough, then players will also come across rare, cursed gear within Dark Arisen. In order to properly use the gear, you will have to take it to Olra, who will then lift the wretched curse from it. Only when the curse is lifted will you be able to identify the item and learn of its use. These little Easter eggs of sorts are not only fun to find but add a level of mystery to the game. Cursed items can turn out to be anything, from advanced weaponry to unique augments, that can add impressive skills to not only your character but your pawns.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is a wondrous expansion that is cleverly designed and executed. The game’s cunningly implemented blueprint, ominous soundtrack and sinister storyline really send a chill down your spin, and adding that to the vast improvements and features, there is no reason not to pick up Dark Arisen. You just may discover you’ve been missing out on one hell of an adventure.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is available April 23rd for the Xbox 360 and PS3 for $39.99. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes & Violence. To learn more, visit the official Dragon’s Dogma website.
4 out of 5