When Dragon’s Dogma burst onto the scene in 2012, it was an amazing amalgamation of different inspirations and aesthetics, combining the best of Western fantasy elements with the style and gameplay of Japanese action RPGs. Almost a decade later, it's still one of the most unique RPGs in a class of its own, as Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen arrives on the Nintendo Switch.
For starters, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen contains both the original scenario for the base game of Dragon’s Dogma and the expansion -- Dark Arisen. These scenarios have you explore the world of Gransys, a medieval world occupied by grandiose castles and epic fantasy creatures like chimeras, gryphons, and dragons of course. The inspirations Capcom chose for this world is clear, as even loading up the game offers you a preset character modeled after Guts, the protagonist from the dark fantasy series Berserk. While arguably less bleak than these stories that Dragon’s Dogma clearly draws from, it still makes for a compelling story that is told through quests and character dialogue.
Little has changed about Dark Arisen with this port -- everything is as anyone who has played the game might remember it with its unique pawn system and multi-class combat that allows for a good bit of variety in how you choose to tackle the many fantastical enemies of Dragon’s Dogma. Those who are unfamiliar with the game completely might feel overwhelmed at first by the lack of direction in Dragon’s Dogma or overwhelmed by the numerous menus as NPC dialogue is vague at best. As daunting as this may be at times, if you’re a fan of action RPGs and Western fantasy flavored JRPGs, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is a game worth your while.
There are very few other games like Dragon’s Dogma in terms of how it plays and what it has to offer to the RPG genre. Combat is exceptionally stylish and as you level both yourself and your pawn up a numerous amount of attacks open up how you can approach combat encounters. The pawn system allows you to summon NPC characters created by other players that are customized with their own gear, skill sets, and knowledge based on how deep their player is in the game, allowing players to create party compositions to fit your situation or desired build at any time. I created a pawn that specialized in magic so I would always have a dedicated healer in my group, summoning sword and shield specialized pawns from other players to take the brunt of the damage during fights.
Pawns can also provide valuable information outside of telling you, extremely frequently, that wolves hunt in packs. Summoning high-level pawns from other players can be rewarding not only for combat but for the experience they’ve gained through the main scenario with their individual player. Sometimes they would tell me about an enemy I hadn’t yet encountered or a region I was unfamiliar with, which was always to my benefit. This system makes up for the lack of traditional multiplayer.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen plays extremely well both docked and undocked, with no frames dropping at any instance. I preferred to play the game undocked out of my own personal preference, if only because I found it more comfortable with the control scheme. That being said, Dark Arisen is another fabulous port that suffers no significant performance issues. If you’ve not yet had the chance to play Dragon’s Dogma or were interested in the series, now is your chance to dive headfirst into this cult classic. If you’re not convinced or are looking for more impressions, feel free to check out our review of the PC port of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen.
Versions tested: Nintendo Switch
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.