Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - PC

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Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PC)
Requires: Mouse, Keyboard
Also for: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Media: DVD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Capcom Soft. Co.: Capcom
Publishers: Capcom (GB)
Released: 22 Jan 2016 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 18+
Accessories: Control Pad


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Dragon's Dogma was a bit of a surprise when it became such a runaway hit for Capcom in 2012. 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.

Right off the bat, Capcom has 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.

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. Also included on this magical disk is the Japanese voice track too - a big plus for some.

No matter where you are in the story or what level you are, starting up Dark Arisen will let you continue your Dragon's Dogma game but now upon returning to your home town you'll 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 Dragon's 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 doesn't last long. There are indeed some incredibly deadly foes lurking in the depths of the island's labyrinthine underground. The guiding principle behind Dark Arisen seems to have been that bigger equals better; you'll soon be taking on oversized ogres and Cyclopes in some of Dragon's Dogma's 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 they're 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.

There are some enemies that do feel brand-new to the game however. Minotaur offer a fresh challenge, combining awesome brute strength with bursts of speed that the ponderous hulks of the original game tended to lack. And many of the chests found throughout the dungeons are home to deadly man-eating mimics who are very capable of quickly devouring one of your party whole when disturbed, leaving you a man down in the ensuing battle. And most deadly of all is the Grim Reaper himself, who stalks the island's tunnels and can appear seemingly at random to do battle with you.

It's not like they're just throwing you out to the proverbial wolves however, Dark Arisen gives you the tools to defend yourself against these deadly new foes in the form of powerful new skills and equipment. Rift crystals are considerably more valuable this time round, no longer used only for hiring powerful pawns but now also in exchange for a number of services. Cursed items found throughout the island can be purified into more useful equipment and high-level gear can be enhanced even further than before.

Dark Arisen might not be a full-blown sequel, but with a budget price there's plenty here to entice back fans of the original and get players who missed it first time round to take the plunge.