Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - The dragons are back!

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, originally released on April 26, 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360 (Dragon's Dogma version, including the game + Dark Arisen DLC), is released today in a port on the PS4 and Xbox One.



You are a small fisherman living in a peaceful fishing village when, one day, a huge Dragon appears and attacks your village. So, in a burst of desperation, you go off to fight him with an old sword and end up being disarmed.

Thinking that your last hour has come, the dragon tears your heart out, but, against all odds, you stay alive ...

You wake up and find out that you have become "The Insurgent", a being able to order the Pawns, beings similar to humans in appearance, but responding only to the orders of the insurgent and fighting alongside him in order to defeat the Dragons.

Rassilon and Estelle, the shocking duo reunited again!

The storyline seems pretty basic at first, but gets interesting and intense the further you go. The story is revealed during a main quest, but to know the whole story, it will be necessary to discover it "in the old way". That is to say via side quests, conversations and above all, exploration.

The story (but also some side quests) offers from time to time choices, which will change the story a little. However, don't expect to have moral choices or story branches like a Mass Effect, Divinity: Original Sin 2, etc.


Game and gameplay

The game is an action-RPG that also features a fairly large world to explore and a plethora of monsters to weave in, ranging from harmless little bunnies to huge dragons that can smash castles with the flick of their wings.

The gameplay revolves around 9 classes :

  • Three classes say "Base" who are the warrior, the ranger and the mage.
  • Then come 3 classes "Advanced", which are "advanced" classes of the base classes, namely the champion, the hunter and the wizard.
  • And finally, there are the classes mixed, which are a mixture of two classes, namely the Paladin (mixed warrior-mage), the assassin (mixed warrior-ranger) and archer-mage (mixed ... archer and mage! Thank you Captain Obvious).

It should be noted that the Pawns themselves do not have access to mixed classes.

Each class has 9 rows which evolve independently of each other. The evolution of classes allows you to unlock spells, techniques and passives. The latter have, for the most part, an evolution which is unlocked once the "basic" version has been purchased. Some of the spells / techniques and passives can be used in different classes.

If you unlock, for example, a passive that increases your magical protection as a warrior, you can use it on your ranger. Of course, not everything is transferable from one class to another (fortunately!).

The purchase of new capacities.

This system pushes the player to evolve several classes instead of dealing with just one.

When you go on an adventure and kill enemies, explore areas, complete quests, and more. the rank of the class you are using will increase. It is thanks to this level that you will be able to unlock the purchase of new spells / techniques and passive.

Class rank gain

The purchase of these is done through "Class points". However, you have to be careful, because these are global and not linked to a class. This means that the class points you gain as a warrior can be used to buy spells as a mage for example. In total, there are several dozen spells / abilities and passives for each of the classes.

Now that we have seen the classes, let's move on to the other big central element of the gameplay: the pawns.

Pawn pokemons are NPCs who will accompany you and help you throughout your adventure. Like your character, they will gain in level, have a class to evolve, equipment to manage, etc. There are two types of pawns: your own pawn, and two pawns belonging to other players that you can summon.

Your pawn is ... well, your pawn! The one who will accompany you from the start of the adventure. You will be able to customize its appearance, voice, manage equipment, class, spells, etc. In short, do exactly the same as your character. You can even customize ... his personality: tell him to prefer to protect you or to protect NPCs / other Pawns, to prefer to stay at a distance or to go melee, to prefer attack or heal, etc.

Throughout your adventures, your pawn will evolve. Are you fighting an unknown monster? By fighting it, your pawn will be able to discover its strengths and weaknesses, inform you of them and use them to more easily kill them. For example, if you have a sorcerer pawn equipped with an ice, fire, and lightning spell and you encounter a new enemy, your pawn will attack with whatever it has on hand.

By dint of fighting, he will learn that the enemy is vulnerable to fire and will use as a priority and as often as possible spells and attacks based on fire precisely. If an enemy becomes enraged as soon as he sees a woman (yes, that exists as a weakness!) And your pawn is a woman, he will avoid being in his field of vision. And, of course, your pawn will inform you of all this in real time!

Information on enemies given by the Pawn

It doesn't stop at the strengths and weaknesses of enemies, as your pawn also learns and discovers information about quests and areas.

Thus, if you arrive in a hilly area (mountain edge, for example), your pawn can warn you that the ground is becoming slippery and that the fall is fatal. If you start a quest and the pawn has some information, it can inform you that it will be necessary to go to this or that place, or to do this or that. If you are exploring a cave and a chest is hidden, it will be able to warn you as well.

But how can your Pawn learn if you are doing a quest for the first time? This is possible thanks to the system of " fault " and pawn sharing.

Indeed, although your pawn accompanies you and will always be there, other players will have the possibility of summoning it and using it during their adventures. Rest assured, even when this is the case, the Pawn will still be with you, while evolving with other players. This system allows your Pawn to gain knowledge in battles against enemies, knowledge of locations, quests, etc.

Once a player returns your Pawn, the latter therefore returns with all the knowledge acquired during his adventure with him, but will also earn crystals (currency that is used to summon pawns precisely!), experience points, class points, but also, if the players are nice, objects.

Players can also give ratings to your Pawn, depending on whether he was useful, his knowledge, etc.

Of course you can also summon pawns from other players so that they come to help you (in addition to your pawn). You can summon 2 pawns from other players. They will share their knowledge, like your pawn, and once you return them, whatever you discover with the pawn will be passed on to other players, just like what your pawn brings back to knowledge. You can give them a gift to bring back to the player who owns the Pawn and give the latter a rating.

Now let's move on to the game itself.

Adventure requires you to travel the world and complete quests, just like any self-respecting RPG. Be careful, however, the quests available / possible to achieve will change depending on your progress. Some quests will become inaccessible if you complete another or will no longer be available depending on whether or not you are liked by NPCs or your actions. If, for example, you open the gate of a fort, the guards will be able to attack you, making the quests of the latter unavailable.

There are all the more classic quests, like go kill 10 widgets or bring back 5 widgets, but also more elaborate quests, like escort, carry out an investigation, stealth explore an area, do espionage, etc.

The world is big enough, it will take you many hours to go through it in its entirety, especially since it is made up of many environments. Forests, cemeteries, towns, catacombs, sewers, quarries, magic forests, fortresses, etc.

Creatures present in the game are also numerous. There are the usual goblins, skeletons and bandits, but there are also trolls, chimeras, spirits, salamanders, griffins, dragons, etc. Each has its strengths, weaknesses and tactics to be defeated. Enemies (especially large enemies) have an "area" system on the body.

For example, if you come across a griffin, tapping the wings will prevent it from flying away, or knocking it to the ground if you climbed on its back before it took off and you hit him in the wings. If you come across a Chimera, you can kill the different parts separately. You can kill the "snake" part, then kill the goat part and end up killing the lion part to finish it off, or you can do the exact opposite. Each part killed / destroyed / injured will handicap the enemy. Killing the snake part of the chimera will prevent it from using poison spells, killing the lion part will simply prevent it from moving, etc.

From the side character gameplay, the game looks like Dark Souls for those who know (without being so demanding and punitive). The whole game revolves around a system endurance which, if you fall dry, becomes totally vulnerable. Each action will consume stamina, whether it is using attacks, running, climbing on enemies, taking hits, blocking attacks, etc.


Graphics, soundtrack and optimization

Let's start with the graphics. Although they were optimized when porting to the PS4, they are still graphics from the PS3. However, although not very detailed, the game is not ugly, it has aged rather well.

On the side of soundtrack, as for the musics, although they are pleasant, they will not mark and will not remain in the memories. As for the sound effects, they are convincing.

And to finish, optimization. I did not touch the PS3 / Xbox 360 version or the PC version, but the latter are known to have problems with drops in IPS and freeze, especially during fights. On the PS4 version, these are completely absent. At no time did I have a freeze, slowdown or drop in IPS.



The game was a pleasant surprise for me. I was totally missed at the time and I regret it a bit. But the port on PS4 / Xbox One was a good opportunity to discover this pleasant title. The latter offers good replayability, with the unlocking of new levels of difficulty, to be able to restart the game while keeping everything that we have won previously, to develop all the classes, the pawn, to test the different ways of carrying out the quests proposing several ways to be finished, etc. The DLC included in this version (Dark Arisen) offers a big challenge and will put players to the test.

If you are looking for a Dark Souls -like (with a lower gameplay requirement), do not hesitate and go for it!

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