Dragonís Dogmawas a bit of a surprise when it became such a runaway hit for Capcom last year. You can read SPOnGís review of it here. Given that I mostly agree with everything there Iíll try not to retread any of that ground while reviewing Dark Arisen.
Itís the next chapter in the story of the Arisen and his army of supposedly mindless slaves. A cynic might say itís unusual for Capcom to have waited this long before milking a bit more out of Dragonís Dogma
in their trademark style.
Once again avoiding taking the path of DLC, Dark Arisen
is instead a full-blown disc release expansion pack for the original game, containing both the original game and the additional dungeons of Bitterblack Isle.
Owners of Dragonís Dogma
might instinctively rail against having to buy a second copy of the game, but can the extra content of Dark Arisen
prove it to be a worthwhile purchase?
Right off the bat, Capcom have sweetened the pot a little with a bonus bundle of loot for players of the original game. Perhaps the best item included is the unlimited-use ferrystone that lets you warp between important locations whenever you like, cutting down the travel times that sometimes dragged down the original game.
More mundane, but still pleasant, rewards include a batch of special costumes and a swathe of rift crystals to recruit higher level pawns into your party. None of this is particularly earth-shaking but the ferrystone is handy to have around and you might find yourself needing all the rift crystals you can get if you have to rely on powerful pawns to explore the dangers of Bitterblack Isle. At the very least itís much better than a punch in the mouth.
An inclusion that might prove most enticing for some is the HD texture pack available on the accompanying disk. Installing this onto your hard drive makes things look quite a bit prettier and fixes a lot of the visual glitches and slow texture loading times that you might experience without it.
Itís not a massive leap but Dragonís Dogma
is getting on a bit now and like some aging Hollywood movie star any cosmetic touch-ups it can get go a long way.
Also included on this magical disk is the Japanese voice track too, which I couldnít really care less about but know that there are people out there who love that kind of thing. Dragonís Dogma
ís voice-acting and dialogue both tend to be somewhat terrible at least.
So, while I can understand people wanting to use the Japanese option, Iíd sooner just turn the telly down and listen to some other suitably awesome music as I play.
Speaking of music choices, theyíve got rid of THAT main menu song, much to my dismay. Most people who are familiar with the song probably wonít be sad to see the end of it, but Iíll be damned if it hadnít grown on me. Much like Street Fighter IVís
divisive Indestructible theme, which was also done away with in an expansion pack upgrade, I found Dragonís Dogma
ís main theme to have a quirky charm that the new song just canít replicate.
Now to the main business of the day. Story and character development werenít what you might call Dragonís Dogma
ís strongest points, and Dark Arisen
doesnít take any steps to rectify that.
No matter where you are in the story or what level you are, starting up Dark Arisen
will let you continue your Dragonís Dogma
game but now upon returning to your home town youíll find a new mysterious lady waiting to take you to the site of your next adventure - the imposing Bitterblack Isle - where a simply massive cluster of dungeons packed with deadly new enemies awaits you.
An experienced Dragonís Dogma
player might be a little put-off by the presence of common wolves and goblins during their first forays onto the island. But while it may seem a little uninspired to be reusing assets at a time like this, rest assured that such banality doesnít last long.
There are indeed some incredibly deadly foes lurking in the depths of the islandís labyrinthine underground. The guiding principle behind Dark Arisen
seems to have been that bigger equals better; youíll soon be taking on oversized ogres and Cyclopes in some of Dragonís Dogma
ís typically awesome mini-boss battles.
Like many of the new creatures in Dark Arisen
these enemies tend to be similar to some of their original game counterparts, but the differences can make a world of difference. The fire-based salamanders might behave much like the Saurians found around Gransis, but due to their magma bodies theyíre immune to fire spells and instead vulnerable to ice - encouraging you to try out different attacks than those you might have relied on in the past.