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Test Tube – Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Posted by Peter Nickless On Friday 17 May 20131 COMMENT

Welcome to Test Tube. Not to be confused with our full reviews, these ‘two hour test’ articles see us tackle remakes, ports, expansions, mobile games and other titles of interest.

Available on 360 and PS3 l Published and developed by Capcom l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1 player

The original version of Dragon’s Dogma was one of the sleeper RPG hits of 2012. It provided challenging combat and the clever online capability to share my pawn collection… uh… my pawns.  I liked the game, but was disappointed with the bland level design and ‘nothing’ story. As such, I was interested to see what the Dark Arisen edition would have to offer.

The first thing I noticed about this standalone expansion was the repeated (and correct) warning that I wasn’t yet ready to face the dangers of Bitterblack Isle. I finished the core game at level 57 and entered Bitterblack Isle thinking I was ‘all that’. I managed to defeat a couple of minor bosses, felt pretty confident and then came unstuck against a giant beholder. Game over for me. Unfortunately, I realised that the key to success with this version would be that JRPG staple, the grind.  I spent many hours toiling away, added 10 more levels and changed my character’s skill tree. Despite this, I only managed to injure the beholder slightly more the second time around.

Dark Arisen was actually much more fun to play than the main campaign, ridiculous difficulty aside, because the environment constantly surprised. The main dungeon I explored contained many corridors and climbable sections with hidden treasure chests and monsters galore. I twisted and turned along narrow corridors before suddenly being confronted with large boss fights.  These adversaries needed to be killed to gain keys and stones to unlock doors to access further areas of the castle. And the bosses were hard.

Dark Arisen rewarded me for finishing the original game with multiple bonuses and upgraded equipment.  I recommend finishing the game once (perhaps even twice) before tackling the expansion content. This is Dark Arisen’s greatest weakness. It demands so much levelling up (which has to come from grinding) that it’s only really accessible to hardcore fans. If you’ve already played Dragon’s Dogma, you’ll appreciate the additions, just don’t expect to make it very far.

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One Comment

  1. Stephen Foote says:

    Despite its many flaws, Dragons Dogma is still one of my favourite titles from 2012. Hoping they can address the issues in a full blown sequel.

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