Grows significantly better in late game.

User Rating: 7 | Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen PC

Dragon's Dogma was a mild disappointment to me for much of its early to mid game. In the beginning, the strength of the combat system is lost as you fight generic goblins, bandits and wolves. A little later on you get your first taste of the excitement of hunting larger, more fearsome prey. That excitement gradually fades as the same few big beasties are recycled throughout much of the remainder of the game. It wasn't until the main game's final chapter and into Dark Arisen that I felt that enemy diversity had finally reached a satisfying level.

The game's story follows a similar path. It creates intrigue in the opening scenes before quickly retreating into quests typical of open world RPGs in their lower levels. Moving forward the plot lingers too long in predictable "Chosen One" territory. Again, it is not until the final climactic chapter that the strange relationship between Dragons and Arisen is delved into in a compelling way.

NPCs are mostly used to spur exploration though a small handful of them get side quest chains dedicated to fleshing out their character. There is also a multitude of MMO style fetch and kill "X" side quests. Your protagonist is the silent type but is instilled with a sense of belonging as "cousin" to several residents in the opening fishing village. Your relationship with your main sidekick, or Pawn, also grounds you in this world.

You are able to swap among 9 different classes for yourself and 6 for your Pawn. The system invites you to experiment. Within each class some skills are better than others which can lead to an overreliance upon them. Gear is limited by class rather than stats. Better weapons are discovered regularly but new armor can be so similar that it becomes hard to justify replacing an old, fully upgraded piece. End game and Dark Arisen equipment ramps up the advancement rate and nicely scratches the loot hunting itch.

The world of Gransys is varied and seems large for a while. You will have seen most of it well before the game ends however. Level design is noticeably bad is some parts of the main game but improves in Dark Arisen. Quick travel is very useful but due to it being patched in, it isn't sufficiently highlighted. Be sure to check your in game storage for several free DLC items, particularly an Eternal Ferrystone.

Voice work is generally quite good. Be prepared to hear some lines repeated many times by your Pawns though. A competent orchestral soundtrack isn't one to hum along with but I did find myself happy to return to certain areas just because of their music. Graphically the game is realistic with some very enjoyable equipment designs and character customization options. Easily found mods are out there that can further enhance the experience.