In May 2012, Capcom introduced a new IP called Dragon’s Dogma. At heart, it’s a tribute to the famous Monster Hunter franchise but with a western take on medieval fantasy, a dash of Shadow of the Colossus and even a pinch of Golden Axe.
The game, while true to the claim, turned out to be something bigger and more ambitious. Though many had initially blamed it for being over-ambitious with an identity crisis, it somehow ended up being a fan-favorite despite its eventual and abundant glitches, bugs and technical difficulties.
Five years later, the game is brought back to life as Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Remastered which comes bundled with all the DLCs and a fresh coat of paint. This review will focus on what changed and if the game is indeed worthy of your time and money five years on.
The World of Dragon’s Dogma is on an ever-turning wheel of fate. Every millennium or so, the whole world, including its inhabitants, respawn, utterly oblivious of their past cycle. This cycle of rebirth is looked over by a singular god whose prime task is to find a replacement before the world resets. This is where the “Arisen” comes in.
An Arisen most complete various trials and prove themselves worthy by slaying the Great Dragon. If an Arisen fails, they become soulless, immortal beings. The story is far-fetched, dealing with gods, a quest to kill a god, reset the world, fulfill your destiny or just delay the apocalypse in case the Arisen find themselves lacking. The game also offers a “Pawn” system, essentially an NPC that does your bidding and can be used by other players while you are away from the game for the exchange of loot and gifts. Narratively, these pawns are creatures without a soul that serve the Arisen in the hopes that they reach their goal.
Dragon’s Dogma is a fantasy/action RPG that takes place in a massive open world with colossal beasts for you to slay, dungeons for you to conquer, and kingdoms to explore. While the main story is expansive and interesting, the many sidequests, NPCs and easter eggs add even more value to the game.
You will get to customize one of the three pawns who will travel with to your liking, including their starting class and stats, while the rest will join in accordance with your preference. Playing a warrior? Hiring a healer as one of your load-out party members may be of benefit, for example.
The real-time battle system is where the game shines the most, and what sets it apart from the rest of the pack is the way you deal with each situation. Some enemies are flyers, so a Strider class with bows and arrows, for example, is the most suited for such an encounter, and can knock them out of the sky so that the other classes can clobber them. Other huge enemies that seem almost impossible to kill can be mounted a-la Shadow of the Colossus to identify their weak points. Once revealed and attacked, the enemy will get knocked out or dizzy, opening them for attack from your party members.
If you happened to catch this game during its initial run and are expecting anything new, such as weapons, features, enemies or modes, you will be disappointed. This release just overhauls the graphics for a prettier experience. It now runs at a smooth 60fps, and the resolution and textures have been scaled up. Even with all the graphical updates, it still feels anachronistic and inferior to modern games. Some technical glitches have also been tended to, but that’s about all this version offers.
Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Remastered is the definitive edition that fixes the essential problems that plagued the original release. If you’ve never played it before, you will discover an entertaining and challenging action RPG that stands the test of time and will offer you something unique that no other game even has attempted since its original release. If you are a returning veteran, you will enjoy the smoother experience, but again, there really is no other motive for you to revisit it beyond sheer fandom.
At a time when many new games are being released, and so little time to play them all, one will wonder if a return trip to a relatively recent game is worth it.
Dragon’s Dogma: Arisen Remastered is available for PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One. A review code was made available to us via Capcom.