While I owned one of the platforms capable of playing Dragon’s Dogma when it was first released, somehow I never got around to playing the game. It has everything I could want, the mechanical skill of Dark Souls with the climbing mechanics of Shadow of the Colossus added to a bright interesting world like Monster Hunter and mixed into the traditional classic RPG trappings that drew me to the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Well, luckily, the game has a new lease on life with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for the PC.
Let’s say you also missed out on the game and have no idea what the game is about. You create a character (mixing up Rogue, Fighter and Mage in the traditional RPG way) and pal about with a bunch of ‘pawns’. These are characters controlled by AI that you can give orders to as their leader. One is an NPC from within the game world but the two others (unless you turn the feature off) are the creations of other players online. Still AI controlled, but it gives a very nice amount of variety in your friends.
So the four of you adventure around, doing side quests or advancing the main story, mostly by killing monsters. The cool thing is, you have to climb these monsters to reach their various body parts. Fighting a griffin will take a while, unless you manage to climb up it and attack the head directly. A Chimera has three ways to attack you: a snake tail, goat head sprouting from its back and a lions face right up front. Attacking the lion deals the (sorry for this) lion’s share of damage but leaves you open to bites from the other two. Take them out first makes combat much more managable.
So far I’d dumped around 30 hours into it, and most of that has been in side quest. The game is enormous and lovingly detailed. While the move to PC has opened up lots of additional options for players (such as a wider variety of control schemes, higher resolutions and frame rates), the core gameplay is, most importantly, fun. Borrowing a copy for Xbox 360 from a friend, I was pleased to see that no matter where or how you choose to play, the game is just an insane amount of fun.
The game does feel visually dated, in that a lot of the models and textures aren’t as crisp or organic as they could be but that’s only really a problem if you’re grabbing the game for it’s beauty. The visual art style holds up against the technical merits, so it doesn’t really detract from the game. Also some people might be turned off from the difficulty of the game. As I mentioned before, it’s similar to Dark Souls and that’s a game infamous for how difficult the game can be. For those looking for a multiplayer experience, I’d look elsewhere. Other players will join you as pawns, but those are an AI only experience.
Because this is a re-release of an old game, even though my primary experience here was on PC the game is available on 360 and PS3 for anyone with a computer that might not be able to handle it. It certainly feels like a 5 year old game, but a really fun 5 year old game. And for now, it’ll scratch my “Shadow of the Colossus” itch without beating that game for a 30th time.