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Review: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (Nintendo Switch)By Insanoflex At 21.05.2019 08:51

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Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is soon becoming the next Resident Evil 4 in terms of how many times Capcom is willing to port it. That is not to say that it is not deserving of being preserved for new gamers, because there is not much else like it today. On the surface one might write this off as a Skyrim or Dark Souls imitator, but that would be wrong on both accounts. There is a very robust character creator at hand that shockingly lets players role-play as children or even the elderly, and factors like stature or build can affect stats. Combat takes centre stage in gameplay with various job classes or 'vocations,' with each having their own distinct play-style where some are more useful than others.

As expected from the man who designed Devil May Cry 3 and 4, Dragon's Dogma gives quite a bit of attention to detail to the combat. While one should not be expecting to get SSS ranks in this RPG, the wide variety of expressive moves and utility that the basic fighter vocation will learn is a cut above what is seen in most medieval action titles. This has the kind of skill-ceiling that players who know how to get good with the mechanics can overcome much higher level threats than intended, which obviously is very satisfying. Right at level one, characters can scale up much larger monsters and punch grape-fruit sized cavities into their skulls. Playing as an Arch Mage lets people wreck some serious havoc, and can even cause the Switch to buckle a bit and cause some slowdown due to all the chaotic magical effects happening, which is morbidly gratifying.

It can take a bit of time to build a character that is this effective but this is where 'pawns' come into play. Pawns are both useful and obnoxious AIs that fill out a party, and as a mage or healer they will typically cover your back well enough. At times it seems as though they were a crutch to make up for an online co-op mode that was intended, but Capcom could never get working right in time. Famously, the pawn dialogue is silly and understandably meme-worthy. Hearing these guys warn about wolves hating fire or travelling in packs is adorably endearing, but it wears out its welcome fast after five hours. The real skilful use of pawns requires hiring the ones that are many levels lower than the player-avatar since doing so yields higher rewards.

Role-playing in Dragon's Dogma entails lots of check listing of tasks that were so common in RPGs of the 2010s. Expect lots of plundering in caves or ruins, while fighting large beasts or hunting an X amount of... whatever. The most interesting aspect in this is how it determines the protagonist's romance option. Without giving it away, the results can lead to a hilarious punchline. The real reason why anyone would pick up this, is for the Dark Arisen post game content, where the atmosphere becomes darker, and survival is emphasized. It is set in a single super-dungeon, full of unbelievable threats, and even the save music from Resident Evil.

Dragon's Dogma originally came out in 2012 and it shows. Character models and animations are definitely superior from its Elder Scrolls competitor, and the presentation can be very cinematic and picturesque. At best, the visuals are adequate and at worst the technical failings betray the spectacle like the woefully short draw distance. Texture quality runs a wide gamut from PlayStation 2 quality to flat. This was Capcom attempting something very epic that was beyond what the specs of what the seventh gen consoles could deliver, and some of those short comings have carried over like the artificial intelligence being easily broken or overall muddiness of the colour pallet. The creature designs can be somewhat bland at times, yet have moments of brilliance that look like CD Projekt Red might have been taking some notes. There is a great deal of attention to detail to ensure a sense of plausibility to the fantastical creatures.

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Final Score
[i]Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen[/i] has its rough spots, but it dreamed big. It has much better action in it than most others of its kind, and it won't push players into becoming a murder-hobo. This is Hideaki Itsuno's big Dungeons & Dragon's campaign, and he is the DM. Gransys is a sizeable world with a lot to see and do, and that can now be on the go.

7

/10

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