Dragonâ€™s Dogma: Dark ArisenDragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was released last week, and it’s the next chapter of the original Dragon’s Dogma. The nice thing is, if you own the original, you can export your existing characters and all other saved data to continue your journey as the Arisen. Furthermore, you will receive 100,000 Rift Crystals, an Eternal Ferrystone and the Gransys Armor Pack, consisting of six brand-new costumes, for free, upon purchasing Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen.
Dark Arisen introduces Bitterblack Isle, home to a massive underground realm and a new storyline to unravel. It is a cursed territory teeming with incredible treasure and terrifying new foes, each with unique strategies to defeat. With this new addition, the travel to and from Bitterblack Isle and the mainland, Gransys, is more accessible by means of an improved travel system called Portcrystals. With this, you can take your characters to new levels with new skills, weapons and armor sets.
The original Dragon’s Dogma redefined the Action-RPG genre with exhilarating skill-based combat and free exploration of a rich environment, and introduced the innovative team dynamic called the Pawn system. With this version, a fully customizable (including name, class, skills and upgrades) main Pawn companion accompanies the Arisen throughout your journey. Two further support Pawns can be swapped out based on your needs. You recruit Pawns by venturing into the Rift, a space between worlds that can be accessed either offline or online. If you play online with Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network, you can rent out your main Pawn companion to friends as temporary secondary Pawns.
Note that your quests in Dark Arisen can take some time to get a handle on. An early quest might send you up a hill, where the wolves are thick but manageable, then straight into a group of bandits, which are far from manageable. The lesson learned is there is no shame in turning around and going back. The time spent on your journey can end up feeling wasted, but, hey, it builds character.
On the plus side, Dark Arisen offers great encounters against monsters, and atmospheric touches make the game’s world feel authentic. On the negative side, the game backtracks you through familiar territory over and over again while you experience odd quest-related events. The frustrations come from the game’s structure, since Dark Arisen wants you to earn your victories. That’s not a bad thing, but you don’t receive any help from the game, so it sometimes feels as if you’re working way too hard for what’s supposed to be an adventurous video game. You’ll spend many hours wandering through Gransys looking at the same brown canyons and winding paths.
If you’re not familiar with Dragon Dogma’s genre, it is comparable to Shadow of the Colossus, The Elder Scrolls series or the Monster Hunter games. Not for the keiki, as it is rated “M for Mature,” it retails for $39.99, and is available for your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and as a Digital Download from the PlayStation Store. Find it at your nearest GameStop, Walmart or Amazon.com.