Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Review (PS4)

Dragon’s Dogma was supposed to kickstart a huge franchise. It was a game with a lot of expectations attached from Capcom when it was originally released but while it might have failed to sell well during its original launch, it achieved cult hit status among fans thanks to its incredible gameplay that was – at one point – the best in any action RPG.

Dragon’s Dogma was held back by the PS3 and Xbox 360. The game had some technical issues including black bars that were used to cut the top and bottom of screen hence reducing the resolution and a frame rate that wasn’t steady with frequent screen tearing. The game took a while to reach a state where fans could enjoy it with all of its glory but it was only released for the PC. The release of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for the PS4 and Xbox One makes it the first time the definitive version of the game has made its way to current generation consoles without any obvious technical flaws that might have an impact on the experience.

Dragon’s Dogma will always remain a fond memory for me because it was one of my first action RPG. The combat system was particularly revolutionary because of how it mixed the climbing mechanics of Shadow of the Colossus with a standard action RPG elements. You could cling to the huge monsters and slash at their weak points. This was not the only aspect that set it apart as the game also included arguably one of the best implementation of magic in an action RPG. You could use some extremely powerful spells that were visually gorgeous but also devastating for the monsters.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was an expansion to the original game featuring a completely new location where you had to challenge and fight a new tough foe. While the original game was hard on its own and often considered a less strict Dark Souls, Dark Arisen added a ton more challenge to the game with the inclusion of the new area. It was great for fans of the original like myself who had mastered the world by now and wanted to challenge themselves with something a little more difficult. There were also several tweaks to the game that improved some of the drawbacks from the original. The teleportation system was completely revamped and fast travel was added which is a really important change for the game considering you had to travel from one location to the next all on foot. There were also other tweaks to the combat and the quests that greatly improved the original release.

If you are expecting a great story from the game, you should tamper your expectations as Dragon’s Dogma was never known for its story. The game starts with the birth of the Dragon ‘Grigori’ who is also the final boss in the game. He somehow ends up taking the heart of a villager in turn transforming him into an Arisen. These are all people that are cursed by the Dragon and have to kill him in order to break from his curse. Your main character will be completely customizable and lacks any sense of personality. While the character creator might have looked great at one point, the result today is rather hilarious and horrifying at times. This is mainly due to the visuals of the game which don’t seem to have aged well especially for the character models.

Dragon’s Dogma is an open world RPG so you will have complete freedom to set your course right from the get go. You will have to be careful not to venture into areas where the enemies might give you difficulty, so it is not hard to draw a comparison to Dark Souls here. The main world map isn’t really that big compared to most other games but it does contain plenty of secrets. The best part of the open world is arguably the quality and quantity of the monsters that roam it. You can find all sorts of creatures in the world of Dragon’s Dogma from Giant Snakes, Golems to Griffins and Chimeras. All of these can be climbed and some of their weak points can even be slashed to damage them.

The game uses a pawn system for the party members where you can summon the help of other people to get their Arisen as your party member. These will be AI controlled party members but it is possible to get high level pawns through a friend or other people online which might make the journey to the final battle a little easier. Your own character can be summoned by others as a pawn and this is basically the extent of the online implementation in the game.

The PS4 version of the game comes with all the bells and whistles of the PC version so you are getting upgraded visuals and improved performance although the major drawback here is the lack of 60 FPS. This is such a strange omission considering the age of the game and the optimized PC version which can run on some low-end hardware so in this sense, this is perhaps my biggest gripe with the PS4 release here. The good news though is that the game supports the PS4 Pro so you get improved resolution with support for downsampling compared to the base PS4, but again there is no support for a higher frame rate here even on the PS4 Pro.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen Review (PS4)

Game Reviewed on: PS4

Game description: Set in a huge open world, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen presents a rewarding action combat experience. It was released for the PS4 and Xbox One on October 3rd.

Summary

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen might have lost some of its original appeal now that there are more options available for an open world action RPG but it still holds a certain charm. The game offers a combat experience that has managed to hold up well through the years.

8.5/10

Khurram Imtiaz

Editor-in-Chief at GearNuke. I am a hardcore Final Fantasy fan and generally enjoy a good JRPG. When I am not posting news, I can be seen sharing my thoughts over at Twitter.

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