Review – Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Remastered
Five years after Dragon’s Dogma launched on the PS3 and Xbox 360, we get a remastered version of one of last generation’s best open world action role-playing games – Dragon’s Dogma. Making things better, the remaster is of the ‘complete edition’ release, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – which included a new zone to explore and added fast travel as well as a slew of new items to find.
It’s kind of impressive how well Dragon’s Dogma holds up, setting aside visuals. The character progression system, which sees you choose between Fighter, Strider, and Mage (the basic fighter/rogue/mage trio that makes up most of classic fantasy) and then branch out into specializations like Warrior, Ranger, and Sorcerer, or hybrids like Mystic Knight, Assassin, or – a personal favourite – the Magick Archer.
In addition to their playable character, gamers also set up a Pawn – a party member controlled by AI (artificial intelligence) – with its class choices, armor, and even its inclinations in battle. Want a massive warrior companion who dedicates their life to standing between enemies and your frail mage, or prefer to be the one wading into the thick of things, but would like a mage standing safely nearby to heal you? Make one, and tweak their behaviour until you’re a well-oiled machine in battle. Pawns can also be ‘hired’ by other players in the game’s online system, aiding them in battle and earning experience and wisdom to bring back to your game.
While the original Dragon’s Dogma release sported fantastic gameplay, it was plagued by poor performance – especially when several mages fired up some major spells at the same time. That’s been fixed for this release, and combined with a sizable visual upgrade over the last-gen release, it makes the Sorcerer class – which at the higher levels can cause earthquakes, summon meteors, and create a petrifying fog – all that much more fun to play.
Those improved visuals can be hard to appreciate in screenshots, as the game still doesn’t seem like much of a looker in still frames. The textures are improved, to be sure – and there’s much more clarity at a distance than the original release, thanks to a resolution bump, but the open world isn’t as detailed as more modern releases. In motion, however, the game provides surprise after surprise – whether it’s the frankly insane number of spell effects that can be in action at the same time in higher-level encounters, or the lighting effects in dark caves or while exploring at night.