‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’ is fully resurrected
Halfway down the winding ramp I realized how big a mistake I’d made. Up to this point I’d been holding my own against any bandits and creatures I came across. But the lurching troll ahead of me stood taller, and he wasn’t happy. Without thinking, I pulled out my bow and let arrows fly, spending every skill I had available.
My companions raged forward, their spells and swords lashing out at the beast. He took them down, leaving me no choice but to retreat while my pawns lie dying in pools of their own blood. I never made it to the exit. I’m not sure how things turned so badly. I only know that troll was out for blood, and mine must have been pretty tasty.
That, of course, was the first of many deaths during my time with Capcom’s latest PC port, “Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen.” Working from the re-released version of the game in 2013, Capcom uncapped the framerate, made a few of the textures a little higher definition, and fixed a slew of bugs and glitches that plagued the original console release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The game is as much a port as any game can be, and its age can definitely be felt in the UI and menus.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the game’s menus did feel a bit hard to handle at times, I was genuinely surprised by how enjoyable “Dragon’s Dogma” was four years after its original release. Sure, it still suffers from having too many sidequests, and some of the humdrum “run here and do this then run back” quests can get annoying. But overall it’s still a really solid role-playing game.
“Dragon’s Dogma” follows the story of an Arisen (played by you), who must journey and face a massive dragon after it appears in your village and eats your heart like a chocolate chip cookie. The journey is long, and it’s a bit convoluted at times, but it feels solid and interesting enough to keep you chasing after whatever new monsters stand in your way.
The combat featured in “Dragon’s Dogma” is exceptional. It’s really one of the best I’ve ever seen in a third person RPG, and it helped make the fifty or so hours I spent in the game worth every minute. The class system, called Vocations, is well thought-out, and even features upgrades for classes. For example, I began my game as a Strider, which is basically a Ranger who can’t use longbows, and eventually was able to upgrade and become a full-fledge Ranger, which gave me access to longbows, new skills, and even better ranges from which to attack my enemies.
Another important part of the combat is the ability to climb onto large creatures. This allows you to attack certain parts of the creature’s anatomy, weakening them, and ultimately giving you better ways to kill them. However, this is one part of the game where the animations show age, as my character would often glitch through the creatures, leaving my character hanging halfway in a troll’s leg, stabbing at some unseen target.
Aside from the combat, there’s only one area of the game that sucked me in enough to keep me playing far into the night: Bitterblack Isle, an end-game dungeon with hundreds of areas to explore and thousands of challenging monsters to defeat. It’s a tough area, meant only for those who can hold their own. Of course, it has a story of its own, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but I actually felt that the story for Bitterblack Isle was more engaging than the main story for the game.
Overall Capcom has done a solid job bringing a very well-made RPG over to the PC. The game features the massive world of Granys, and is filled with tons of customization options, as well as hundreds of complex and dynamic combat situations. It’s really one of the better RPGs we’ve seen of late, and I only experienced two crashes during my time with the game. I also never had any issues with the game’s FPS holding up, which was a huge issue on the console release.
If you’re looking for a game that combines elements of “Skyrim,” “Monster Hunter,” “Dark Souls,” and japanese RPGs, then “Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen” should be on your list.
“Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen,” Rated M, was released for the PC via Steam this month.