Customer Reviews: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - Xbox 360
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on July 8, 2012
Dragon's Dogma has a lot of things going for it. I think that's why the more I played it, the more frustrating its negative aspects were. Because there were many things I really liked about it, the fact that there are such serious flaws were heartbreaking. Before I get to the meat of the review, let me say that overall I really enjoyed Dragon's Dogma. That being said, if the game is never patched, I will probably never play it again. So on to the review...

As I said, there are a lot of aspects of this game that felt original and fresh. The one that should be first on everyone's list of pros is the pawn system. In the game, once you create your character, you then create your main pawn. In the DD universe, pawns are humanoid beings whose sole purpose is to help your character defeat the dragon that has stolen your heart and marked you as the Arisen. Basically what happens is, you design your main pawn, and then if you are playing while connected to XBOX Live, that character is uploaded to a place called The Rift, a gateway that connects you with a wide selection of everyone else's main pawns to recruit, and where other people can recruit your main pawn into their game. The idea itself is just really cool to me. That any pawn I recruit (you can have two on top of your main pawn and yourself) is something that is purely the creation of someone else. Then, your main pawn adventures with other people during their game, and when they are released from another person's party, they/you can choose to send them back with an in-game gift, and you can rate their performance. In this way, your main pawn accumulates more experience on top of what they are gaining in your game. Everything gets updated every time you rest at a camp or inn, and that's when you can receive the gifts from other players. I think this is the single greatest strength to the game, and without it I don't think I'd have enjoyed the game nearly as much. The novelty never wore off, and I still believe the system is fantastic, and the best usage of single player online connectivity I've ever experienced. If you don't play online, no worries, the game either has a set population of scripted pawns you can choose from, or ones that are randomly generated by the game.

Second, also a huge positive, is the boss battles. As far as combat goes, this is one of the most original things about the game. Even though none of the functions are new in and of themselves, I've never played a role playing game where you can climb onto a dragon and slash at its heart, or climb onto a cyclops' head and stab its eye, or mount a chimera and cut its snake tail off, and then kill the goat and lion. It's fantastic, and there are plenty of them to be had. It never feels too repetitive either, since there are so many different ways to approach battle with them. It's especially fun once you're a sufficiently high level, because then you are be more inventive and experimental with your approaches.

The third noteworthy thing about the game that I loved was the variety and depth of the items. I put 60-70 hours into the game, exploring most of it quite thoroughly, and I know there are probably dozens of items and crafting materials I haven't even found yet. Most enemies drop loot, and there are chests, barrels, crates, plants, minerals, and an assortment of other items to be found, picked up, combined, used to enhance weapons and armor, or just sold for some major cashola. If you played Capcom's awesome Resident Evil 5, you'll be familiar with the inventory and combining system. Except in the case of Dragon's Dogma there are hundreds and hundreds of items to be acquired. It keeps the game feeling fresh when you're interested to find or use various new rare items to enhance weapons and armor. Each weapon and piece of armor in the game has a 3 star tiered rating system. The first tier only costs money to upgrade to. And then the second and third tiers require a specific number of a specific item to upgrade to. The better or more rare the equipment, the more expensive and difficult it will be to find those items.

Another worthy mention goes to the landmass of the game itself. The world of Gransys is quite large, even if it isn't terribly varied. Elevation is used frequently to change things up a bit, and it works well, providing long falls for unlucky enemies (or adventurers).

So on to the bad parts of the game. There are going to be more than four things listed here, but I still maintain that hidden in the mess that is Dragon's Dogma is a truly good game.

There are two main problems with the game, and I could go back and forth about which one is more irritating all night: The (lack of) fast travel, and the way pawns interact with the world.

First off, fast travel is almost nonexistent. There are items called Ferrystones that you can carry with you that will instantly teleport you back to the biggest city in the game world. Aside from that, eventually you will also be able to take what's called a Portcrystal with you, which you can set down anywhere in the world and then your Ferrystones will transport you there instead of the city. And that's it. You get one Portcrystal, and aside from that, you can only teleport to the main city. This becomes more frustrating the more you play the game, unless you're a masochist, because the world is quite large. And not only is it quite large, but since the terrain is so varied, you cannot ever travel any great distance in a straight line, so you end up sprinting until you're almost out of breath, and then jogging while your stamina regenerates, and then sprinting again. And over and over and over to your destination. The game tries to provide a couple of shortcuts between areas of the world, but it's really not very helpful. A lot of your time in game will be spent running from one place to another. Not only does this get really grinding after a while, but enemies also respawn in the exact same places every time, so you will have the exact same fights again, and again, and again. And then some more. To the point where I pretty just ran past them and kept going. Because it got so tedious. And then if you don't have a Ferrystone, you have to run all the way back to where you came from. And not only that, but

Secondly, your main pawn and the two you can also have with you will repeat the exact same lines of dialog when you hit certain markers in the game. The exact same lines, in the exact spots, every single time. It got so annoying I went to the options to see if I could turn off the voice volume for just the pawns. You can't, unfortunately. If I had a quarter for every time I heard the phrase "Perhaps we'll find aught of use," I would be seriously loaded. The main problems in the game all kind of flow into the other, and they make it quite a big mess. Even just describing it, it probably seems to someone who hasn't played the game like it's really not worth it to even give the game a chance. If you like highly polished games, you might want to pass on this one. So yeah, the pawns get really annoying after a while. If they would just change it so they only spoke when you initiate conversation with them.

If Capcom fixed only those two problems, the fast travel and the pawn irritation, the game would easily earn a four star rating from me. However, those aren't the only problems with the game...

As stated, fighting normal enemies becomes tedious after a while, because they appear and respawn in the same places every time. It makes that combat repetitive and very boring, even though the combat itself is pretty fun. There are only so many ways you can kill goblins after the four or five hundredth one.

Texture pop isn't actually an issue that I noticed in the game. What is an issue though, is people pop. From the start of the game all the way through, I'd find myself running into people because the streets would be empty, and then suddenly three appear, and then ten, and then twenty-five, all of a sudden. It's not so much an irritation as it just feels lazy. There's no way they didn't come across it when they beta-tested it.

Lip-syncing is godawful. Which is to say it's laughably bad, or just nonexistent. I don't particularly care if lip-syncing is bad, but this isn't even bad, it's like the already bad lip-syncing wasn't matched the recorded audio, so characters are speaking when their lips aren't moving, and vice versa. Another thing that just felt pretty lazy.

Side quests are extremely boring and unoriginal. Most of them fall under two categories: escort missions, and kill set number of [this creature]. Almost all quests not in those categories are main story-related. Kind of disappointing. I think this might be because there are only actually two cities in the whole game world. And no real villages or just lone houses at all. So there aren't quirky people giving you odd quests out in the middle of nowhere.

One of the most bizarre things to me about the game was the "love interest" aspect. Or lack of, I don't even know. I'm still not sure if it's possible to even have an implied relationship with any of the characters you meet. I think this is one thing that maybe I just don't get, because I'm not a fan of Eastern-style RPG's, and am much more used to there being a clearly defined list of things that can or won't happen in a game as far as role playing relationships. There are a few cutscenes in the game where your character will exchange...let's call them "significant stares" with other characters...and then that's it. It's never revisited or mentioned again or anything. And I'm not sure what the point of it is, or what the payoff is either. It's just kind of baffling to me. Music swells and two digital people are staring into each others' eyes not saying anything...and then it ends and nothing.

The save system is also lacking. The game only allows one save slot. It autosaves, and you can save when you want as well. But it's all one save file. If it corrupts, you're screwed. I imagine this will be one of the first things addressed if and when there is a patch for the game. But poor design in the first place, and pretty unacceptable for an RPG.

The last thing I can mention are the graphics, which I'm only mentioning so I can say that if a game is engrossing enough, graphics really don't matter that much. And in this game, they don't. They are function-only, and it works that way. I'd much rather have this deep and varied universe with pared-down graphics than a gorgeous backdrop with no real substance.

So, with so much working against a game, how can I possibly still actually like it? The honest answer is I don't know. I think because the things I like about it outweigh the things I don't like about it, and because I see a ton of potential for this to become a really good franchise if certain simple changes were made. Towards the end of the game I was really reminded of playing Alpha Protocol, which is another highly flawed game that I really liked. So much was wrong with it, and yet I loved it, and saw great potential for it to grow into something really great. That won't happen now, of course, but as with it, I think if Dragon's Dogma gets a sequel, it will be far better than this one as long as a few key things are addressed.

If you're on the fence, I would recommend you at least rent the game to see if it's something you'd like. As I said before, I'm convinced there's a really great game buried in this mess. As I did, you will probably alternate between total immersion and utter boredom. In my opinion though, its pros outweigh its innumerable cons.
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on May 22, 2012
Dragons Dogma was a game I've had my eye on for quite some time. Not really getting my hopes up high in case of disappointment yet still anticipating it, the game has finally reached my hands. What do I think? The game is quite frankly hard to put down.

Right off the bat I will just point out that the story is there, yet not very captivating or interesting. There is a very electrifying beginning, except as soon as that exciting start is over the story is just meh. The main attraction of Dragons Dogma is the combat, which is very very fun and addicting. I highly recommend Dragons Dogma for anyone looking for an open world adventure game similar to that of Dark Souls and monster hunter, and maybe even those who enjoyed Devil May Cry. (The game is hard, yet it still is able to be more forgiving than Demon or Dark Souls). The hack and slash combat will feel familiar to those who have played Dark Souls or DmC, probably because people from DmC series actually worked on Dragons Dogma.

Dragons Dogma allows me to forget the story and just simply go out, slay some monsters, beef up my character(as well as my NPC buddies) and just have a blast. There is actually a really cool and unique system to customizing NPC's, or Pawns. You have one permanent one, then two others you can hire from a rift where Pawns from other players are patiently waiting for the next adventurer to adopt them. This is all adds to the addictive nature of the game, where customizing is almost as fun as the combat.

These Pawns help immensely during combat. I chose a ranger as my class, and my Pawns are able to complement me in very effective ways. i can sit back and plug away with my bow, while my companions can do some serious damage up close, and vice versa.

It's not perfect though. Some minor camera problems and graphical issues are present, but don't get in the way of completely ruining the experience. Just minor frustrations at most. The game could've used some more time in the oven.

I've played for about 7 hours now, and besides the first hour or so which was a bit boring(except that exciting start), I've hardly wanted to stop playing. Will probably update if anything significant occurs.

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on May 8, 2013
For enjoying the beating so much!

Brutal. Just Brutal. Even on the easiest setting, the new creatures that await you on Bitterblack Isle will make the Boss Dragon seem like a hob goblin in comparison. Although I’ve never been one to rush through a game, I found myself slowing down even more to observe my surroundings before haphazardly turning some dark corner or entering a new room. There was a real sense of dread, wondering what kind of new monstrosity awaited my team, or if my lantern would go out leaving me swinging blindly in the dark at whatever horrible thing was pounding me into the ground. I learned quickly that racing for the exit ( and leaving my witless pawns behind as bait) was an actual survival tactic when mobbed by two Gore Cyclopes, three Sirens and a Wyrm… all trying to end my painstaking progress, AT THE SAME TIME.

Really, Capcom?!?!

For me, I enjoy a good challenge so long as it isn’t so frustrating that the game loses all it’s fun. This is where DD: Dark Arisen gets it right. While I’m inclined to compare Dark Arisen with Dark Souls, I enjoyed Dragon’s Dogma more because there was an actual sense of accomplishment after surviving an ordeal. It’s dark, without being too depressing or drab. It’s challenging enough to make you want to continue playing without aggravating you to the point of giving up. The graphics, story and gameplay were also more appealing (to me). The added bonus is the ability to fully customize your own character and that of your companion (pawn) in order to play as whoever and whatever you like. A feature I’ve always preferred in RPG’s with the good sense to accommodate a broader audience.

Having already purchased and played the first release of Dragon’s Dogma, I found the expanded version was well worth the price given all the extra content and added gameplay hours it includes. As a die-hard completest, I’ve already spent an additional 40 hours in the new area alone, and still haven’t finished all the new quests made available. Add to that the high replay value of this game, and at $40.00, it’s still a bargain!
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on June 5, 2013
i wasn't expecting much from dragon's dogma given its lukewarm reception from critics, but i enjoyed the demo on LIVE (especially the shadow of the colossus-esque ability to climb on enemies) and decided to give it a shot--which is easy with it's budget pricing. the game exceeded my expectations on all counts.

in particular, i think that the game's pawn system (companions--one of whom you create personally and an optional other two that can be rented from other players' games) is incredibly innovative, though not as useful as it could be. an example of how this works is as follows: a random player rents my pawn, Khalia, and takes her on a few quests that i have yet to try. Khalia is still in my game--your main pawn is a constant companion--but the next time i sleep at an inn (synching the servers and downloading data), she informs me that she has new information and sometimes even items. she can then give me advice on how to complete those quests that she completed in the renter's game as well as strategies on how to defeat enemies that i may not have encountered yet. it's all very interesting, and my only complaint is that the utilization falls short of the concept.

the only real shortcoming of the game is its abhorrent save system, which allows you only one save file (meaning both the frequent autosaves and manual saves share the same file). while this helps with the immersion (ex.: if you wait too long, you'll have to live with the consequences of your choices and permanently miss quests), it hinders the degree with which you can experiment in the game. the inclusion of a new game+ mode (whereby all items and stats are carried through to a new play through) and the fact that new game+ is actually integrated into the storyline makes this a bit more forgivable, but still a glaring oversight considering how well the rest of the game plays.

+great action/combat
+innovative pawn system
+new game+ adds length and challenge to an already large game

-camera can be problematic, especially when climbing (which is arguably when it's the most necessary)
-some optional quests have time limits that are not explicitly stated
-terrible save system
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on June 12, 2013
They compare this game to Dark Souls and Yes, you can get "One Hit Killed". I read many reviews of this game and they say this game has a lot of unfair battles and cheap kills. Then the same reviewers will say Dark Souls is a "Gem". Dark Souls is a very good game because i have it but the Cheap Kills in Dark Souls is ABSURD compared to this game. I cant count how many times i got killed on the "Back Swing" from and enemy or Boss. In Dark Souls you can get Killed hiding behind a WALL or any other place you think is safe. An enemy can shoot an arrow that will somehow follow your movement, unless you are lucky enough to roll it might mis you which is rare.

Dragons Dogma is difficult but i have yet to get killed standing behind a wall or any other object that's used for cover. The cheap shots are FAR and FEW between. You can create and level your character, weapons and armor. But the thing i love most is the magic in this game. IMO, the magic in this game outshine whats used in Dark Souls. The visuals are spectacular and the Bosses are HUGE. The story gets stale but the combat makes up for it. An overall great RPG.
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on June 4, 2012
First of all, I have to commend Amazon on the great same-day delivery service. I got this game the day it came out without any problems whatsoever. Secondly, it was a great surprise to know that they were giving all the pre-order folks a $10 gift card. Icing on an already awesome cake.

Now to the game.

Dragon's Dogma is fantastic. What it does right far outweigh its minor flaws (graphical screen tearing hiccups, some clipping and lipsync problems).

The core gameplay is amazing. I haven't had this much fun in an open world RPG setting in a very, very long time. The gameplay and fighting mechanic present in this game is simply top notch. The skill/vocation system gives you such in-depth customizability.

I really appreciate how different the gameplay becomes depending on what class you are and what class your pawns are. You *must* play to your strengths and have a well-rounded party to do well and be effective. Paying attention to what you and your party bring to the table is key to surviving in the world of Gransys.

Speaking of survivability, DD does a great job at making the game difficult without it feeling like a chore. Nowhere did I feel that enemies were being "cheap". If you died, 95% of the time it was your fault. It's not as punishing as Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, but it needn't be. In this game enemies don't scale to your level, so if you end up in a part of the world that's too much for you, it's probably because your level isn't high enough yet (though that doesn't mean you can't beat them. You just have to be more careful about how to face them down and exploit their weakpoints.) Conversely, you feel a great sense of satisfaction going back to areas that gave you a hard time in the beginning. Nothing like decimating that bandit fighter that 2-shotted you 10 hours ago <_<

As for replayability, this game has tons of it. Not only do you have tons of quests to do, there's also post-game content that opens up only after you beat the game. Not to mention the fact that this game also has New Game plus. You can restart your adventure at anytime after you finish the game and go through the main quest again and take on quests that you missed the first time around.

Don't expect to go into this game thinking that it has a stellar narrative/story. However, what narrative there is and what dialogue they have is great. I really do like the voice acting in this game and I wish that we had more interaction with all the various folks of Gransys.

Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and I recommend this game to anyone who loves a great action rpg. I admit that this game is rough around the edges, but like I said in the beginning of my review, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What flaws it has is far outshined by what it does right.
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on July 29, 2013
First of all the fighting in this game is some of the most epic stuff ever! I don't think I've ever played a game that has such amazing boss battles! I mean the boss battles sometimes take like a half hour to defeat the enemy and it's awesome. I actually feel accomplished after defeating the powerful enemy, and then my pawns begin to talk... Pawns are very annoying in this game. They talk a ton and nothing they say is interesting, and they repeat it about a million times.

Then the capital: Gran Soren, is very dull too. All the people walk funny and talk funny too. The people you buy stuff from say the exact same annoying line every time you speak to them like "The masterworks all you can't go wrong." I can't even tell you how many times I've heard that line... Had to change the voice settings to japanese so I don't know what they're saying.

Probably the most annoying part of the game is the fact that you only have 1 save file. With a world this big and it being filled with so many enemies, having only one save file is quite a pain in the butt. And when you hit restart to last checkpoint it does not bring you back to when you first entered the city or in a building, instead it takes you back to the last time you saved on your own or slept. To me this was very annoying because the rest of my games I own do not do this.

Though this game is full of flaws it is also one of the funnest most frustrating games I've ever played. I'll rage for a minute and turn off the game because I died and forgot to save but then I'll jump right back to the game so I can fight some more ogres and cyclops. It's worth 30$ for sure but just be prepared to be quite frustrated throughout the game and remember to save often!

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on May 31, 2013
RPG's are my thing. I've played them since the windows 95 days, across more consoles and OS's than I can remember. None, NONE of them have given me such enjoyment and had me constantly smiling as much as this game.

I haven't played the original DD, so I cannot comment on the changes made with this re-release, but I can safely say that this is damn near perfect. The controls are tight and responsive, the graphics (while limited in their fidelity by the dated hardware in the 360) are beautiful and well designed. The combat is fluid, easy to learn and challenging to master. Boss fights will have you on the edge of your seat, mouth agape and eyes wide. Random encounters with gryphons, drakes, chimeras and other familiar mythological creatures will have you panicking the first few times you run into them, and cracking a smile at the welcome challenge each time after that.

The storyline is one of the best I've seen, both in its originality and its execution (the final quests had me applauding, seriously).

The only glaring issue I have with this game, is that your hirelings (pawns) are far too talkative. This isn't an issue on your first playthrough (they give hints about your quests, about the landscape, and on combatting foes) but once you've essentially "seen it all", they can get tedious. Personally, they don't bother me that much, but your mileage may vary.

In conclusion, if you're looking for an RPG to sink literally hundreds of hours into and love every minute of it, this is it.
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on June 4, 2012
I thought this game wouldn't be that great but I was WRONG! The fighting is fun and rewarding. It was very challenging but fun to go exploring and finding new areas and enemies. There are so many little details in this game that many can be easily overlooked but once you find them, you realize that alot of thought and time went into this game.

The pawn system is something that I thought wouldn't work well but I actually now think that it was great idea. You can keep changing your companions constantly so you always have different looking pawns with different skills. Sometimes they might not be of much help but sometimes they will save your life and practically kill your enemies off for you. All you have to do is keep changing them to see what they can do or not do.

The story line is a little bit lacking but the ending makes up for it completely. It's bittersweet but rewarding. I hope they make a second game.
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on May 30, 2013
I have been an avid gamer for more than 10 years. And I have played my fair share of RPGs, JRPGs, Strateggy RPGs, you name I've most likely played it. Also big on competitve shooters, Im an all around guy. But for 2012-2013, this is the game right here. A redefining RPG that should be heralded by RPG action fanatics. Event the creators of the game had been astounded how much love their game had garnered and were not ready to even make an expansion for it, and that is why they had to re-release the original game with expansion content. This games combat is just amazing, the realism really sets it apart, the physics are so well done they make the world come to life. From goblins to cyclops to dragons, all are impacted by the spells, or weapons you use against them. If you shoot a fireball at a cyclops's arm,it will catch on fire, and burn its flesh, if you hit the same cyclops in the chest it will stagger back, if you hit in in the eye with an arrow it will enrage. Words cant explain how awesome this game is. My crappy review cant give it justice. Being able to customize your own pawn, basically companion, and let others online hire him to gain AI intelligence with how to do quests or fight creatures is just awesome, other players pawns fight along side you, seeing what abilities and armor their masters equipped them and then hiring to your party so they can travel with you on quests. The world changing around you from the things you do, such as slaying a griffin unlocking a full griffin set of armor at shops, or helping a merchant clear out a cave, unlocks a brand new shop in that same cave that lets you travel fast between two areas. Ugh the game is seriously a must have for RPG action lovers. Cant say no more, going back to playing again. Also the classes are awesome and diverse, and you can set your own pawns classes, ok ok im done going back on DD:DA to slay a Griffin wooo!
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