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Game Info:

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Release date: January 15, 2016
Available on: PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: RPG
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Price: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Voitan_Rex for gifting us this game to review!

Dragon’s Dogma was originally released in 2012 on the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. Four years later, it came out on PC and in 2017 it was released on the latest generation of PlayStation and Xbox systems. Although the graphics are a bit dated, the gameplay is still solid and this title separates itself from the many RPGs out there today. I can see why gamers have been longing for a sequel and am now among them.

The game begins with you customizing your avatar and being placed in your home town of Cassardis. A huge dragon attacks your village and you’re one of the brave few to pick up a sword and fight it. Many villagers lose their lives and your character does not leave the battle unscathed. In fact, the dragon eats your heart and yet your character lives through the ordeal and becomes known as the Arisen. As the Arisen, you’re destined to battle the dragon and can command soulless warriors known as pawns.

Along with customizing your character, you get to create your own pawn from the ground up. Pawns made from other characters roam around the world (if your system is online) and you can recruit them into your party. Up to three pawns can be under your command. Surprisingly, I was able to recruit pawns that were well over one hundred levels above me.

Like many RPGs, you can get side quests from villagers which reward you with money and discipline points upon completion. Your character and pawns can learn various skills and abilities with the points earned. Characters level up both in their vocation and overall level as they battle and complete quests.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun gameplay with good AI companions and epic battles
Weak points: Quests can be confusing at times with no clear direction on 
Moral Warnings: Violence and bloodshed; revealing clothing; can pursue relationships with anyone in the game, male or female, married or not; language (d*mn, b*stard); magic use

When visiting an inn you can adjust your skills and pawn behavior. You can set how chatty they are as well as what kind of enemies to focus on (strongest/weakest). It’s worth visiting various vendors for the best weapons/armor and healing supplies. Picking up ferry stones for teleporting between various towns will save you a lot of walking.

Though there are many enemies along the roads, even more are lurking away from them. Exploring is rewarded by uncovering many treasure chests with nice loot inside. Bigger enemies tend to drop good items after they are defeated. There are many enemies that are the same size or smaller than your character, but the bigger beasts are more fun to conquer. When battling huge monsters like ogres, cockatrices, wyverns, and more, you and your party can actually climb up them to strike vulnerable areas. For example, you should climb on top of a cyclops to take out their eye or slice off the serpent tail of a chimera to weaken them. Dismemberment and blood are a given for many of the battles in this game.

Not surprisingly, there are some mage characters that cast powerful spells and undead creatures that need to be put to rest once and for all.
There’s a great amount of detail in the monsters and their movements are well done. Though aged, the visuals are still pretty good and it didn’t feel like a six-year-old game to me. There’s a fair amount of variety in the different pawns and NPCs. The chatter from the pawns does get repetitive though. The voice acting is good and the background music is well done.

Some language is used in the game but it’s pretty mild compared to other M rated titles out there. Every character can be romanced/won over by giving them gifts. There are a handful of quest-related love interests, but ultimately you can achieve a maxed affinity with whomever you please no matter their gender or marital status. One of the quests lets you romance the duke’s wife. When it comes to love scenes, I have only seen kissing. When changing armor/attire characters can be seen in their undergarments. After my heart was ripped out from the dragon, my female character’s shirt was badly ripped but the necessary areas were still somewhat covered.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 50%
Violence - 2/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

I was able to complete many quests without a hitch. I appreciated the warnings for when the game’s story was about to progress and any side quests would have to be ignored or completed before moving on in the game. By completing some quests, others will be nullified and the game will notify you of that too. Some quests left me scratching my head as the map marker did not align with my next destination. In one instance, the quest marker was stuck at talking to an individual when I should have been prompted to visit a location they mentioned instead. Thankfully, there are plenty of walkthroughs and maps available online to check if you get stuck.

Though this title autosaves, I highly recommend saving manually as I was kicked back to my desktop unexpectedly more than once. There’s only one save slot so keep that in mind if you’re about to do something absurdly violent or stupid. I accidentally struck someone instead of talking to them and was quickly tossed into jail. I tried to reload after posting bail, but the game autosaved and my 5,000 gold was forever lost.

I was able to complete the main story and a few side quests in roughly twenty-three hours. There is a speed run option available if you’re into that. If you’re the type that likes to explore every inch and complete every possible quest, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen has you covered. After the credits roll there is some post-game content that adds significant but spoiler heavy story sequences. Your character can actually become like a god and take control of life in every realm.

If you like epic battles and RPGs, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is worth looking into if the moral content doesn’t bother you. This title is well worth the entry fee and is worth checking out if you haven’t played it yet. Be warned that it will make you long for a sequel though!

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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