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Gaming review: Dragon's Dogma - Dark Arisen

May 17, 2013 15:35 IST

Gaming review: Dragon's Dogma - Dark Arisen

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The latest edition of the 2012 game is here but is it worth it? Murali Venukumar finds out!

Platforms: Xbox 360/PS3

Price: Xbox 360/PS3: Rs 1,799

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Distributor: Milestone Interactive Pvt. Ltd.

Genre: Action-RPG

Age Rating: 18

Score: 8/10

For those of who’ve already played through Dragon’s Dogma last year, Dark Arisen represents a sizable chunk of new content. The newly released retail disc comes with the original game, and has the Dark Arisen expansion seamlessly integrated into it. Capcom has also tweaked the main game in several ways in response to fan feedback and data from user playthroughs.

There’s a whiff of weapon balancing here and a smidgen of enemy tweaking there, but the most significant change is the addition of extra Portcrystals and Ferrystones (including an eternal ferrystone if you owned the original release) -- making your travels around Gransys less of a trudge.

They’ve also apparently reduced the frequency of pawn speech, but this was one change that wasn’t very evident during gameplay. The pawn chatter had a certain charm to it, so perhaps it’s for the best.

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Photographs: Capcom

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You reach the new area -- Bitterblack Isle -- by way of a stranger you can meet anytime at the Cassardis docks. The Isle itself is sizable for what is essentially an add-on, but you’d be best served not to make the journey until you’re sufficiently leveled up and have a band of equally specced pawns with you. Reason being that Bitterblack Isle is rock hard -- to the extent that it sometimes feels that Capcom didn’t play test and/or balance it right. The original game had its share of difficulty spikes, but nothing like you’ll see here. It’ll pose a significant challenge to adventurers, and that’s assuming you’re well past the Capcom recommended lvl 50.

Adding to the doom and gloom are the visuals. The Isle is a morose place. There are almost none of the wide-open fields that characterized Gransys, instead holing itself up in dark corridors, dungeons, and other eerily lit interior spaces.  You’ll never know when the game spawns a giant foe (or multiple!) just to amuse itself, so there’s a definite tension in working your way through the quests. It may also feel like you never have enough items on you to survive some of the area-of-effect attacks, or even the fights themselves, so it’d be wise to stock up more than you need to.

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Photographs: Capcom

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You may also feel the need to drop out of the isle altogether for a breather and come back later, which the game is now thankfully lenient about. Take a stroll around Gransys, enjoy the sights, recuperate, and go back when you think you’re in the mood for more punishment. That said, there’s a strange melancholy to Bitterblack Isle. It’s depressing in an almost subversive way, from the NPC dialogue to the inevitability of death as you make your way through it. You know it’s coming and there’s little you can do to stop it.

For those of you looking for a challenge, there’s definitely merit in dancing with the reaper in the Dragon’s Dogma world. The original game was one of the freshest RPGs to be come out last year, so there’s no excuse to not dive in if you’re already a fan (and can take the punishment). Those new to the franchise would also be advised to give this package a second look thanks to the depth of content (you’re getting an enhanced version of the original game, after all) and game mechanics, as well as the level of immersion.

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Photographs: Capcom

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