Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for the PC is an example of a port done right, with slightly updated graphics, an improved framerate, and all of the additional content included. All of this combined easily makes this the definitive version of the game. Take note developers: THIS is how you do a PC port. Just try not to take so long next time, Capcom.
I never played Dragon’s Dogma when it was released back in 2012, but I remember wanting to try it. At the time I was big into the Souls series of games, having just played through the original Dark Souls, and I was currently waist deep in the newly released Kingdoms of Amalur. Another medieval action RPG was not high on my list of games to play. But thank goodness I finally got my chance, because I have not been this engrossed in an RPG for quite some time. However, as with any game there is a lot here to love and some things that could be improved upon.
Since this is an RPG, let’s start with the story. Sadly this is one of the areas that Dragon’s Dogma stumbles a bit. I found it to be quite generic and bland. I would say SPOILERS ahead, but I’m not really sure there’s much to be spoiled. You start off the game as a simple commoner. But when your town is attacked by a gigantic dragon, you are the only one brave enough to take up arms and attempt to slay the beast. As you can imagine, this ends just as about as well as it would in real life. You get your heart ripped out and eaten! Mmm yummy.
This is a good thing though, as it doesn’t actually kill you. Instead you become a heartless zombie that the people of this land call The Arisen. In other words, you’re the chosen one! With your trendy new chest scar, you then set off to find the dragon who took your heart and slay him. That’s your story. There’s a small twist later in the game, but it’s nothing that really intrigued me.
In contrast, the world of the game is quite intriguing. Physically in size, the game world is actually pretty small. You could walk your way across it in probably an hour, but that’s only because there are one way paths that twist and turn. If you could simply run in a straight line without fighting anything along the way, you could probably get across it in fifteen minutes. As with any RPG, there are monsters littering the landscape, and this is where it gets interesting. You will find simple bandits, goblins, wolves, but then you’ll also find cyclops, griffons, chimera, and dragons . It’s a very interesting blend of monsters from different mythologies. Getting around the world however is actually a bit daunting. Your run speed is actually pretty slow. You can sprint, but this is limited by a not-so-generous stamina bar. There is such a thing as teleporting, but you’ll need a somewhat rare item to do it. So most of the time you’ll be hoofing it... but without hooves. There are no mounts. It’s an odd choice that may turn off some players, but I felt it simply added to the game’s difficulty and gave me a better feel for the world.
So what about gameplay? Well first off I’ll mention the controls. The game controls well on both keyboard and mouse or with a gamepad. I preferred the latter, but really it’s all about personal choice. Dragon’s Dogma is an ACTION RPG, meaning combat is faster paced than a lot of other RPGs. You’ll be using your mouse or gamepad buttons to swing your sword in light or heavy attacks. If it helps to imagine it, think The Witcher or even Monster Hunter. Your character also has a few special abilities. These abilities vary based on your class. As the “Strider” class, I found my skills were activated instantly, allowing me to unleash a fury of blows on my opponents. After I later changed my class to the “Mystic Knight,” I found my skills had cast times and were generally more about buffing your equipment. These are just the two classes I played, but there are a variety of ones to choose from: Fighter, Strider, Mage, Warrior, Mystic Knight, Ranger, Assassin, Sorcerer, and Magic Archer. You are free to change your class (or vocation as the game calls them) at ANY time, so there’s no real consequence for choosing the wrong one, except having to re-level up the class which is how you unlock new skills. Basically, find the right one for you and go with it.