This review stems from the changes made from the original game to the Xbox One version, not just the game itself. So it's wise to read up on the first Dragon's Dogma before looking into Dark Arisen. In short, this version of DD came with the DLC called Bitterblack Isle, along with a few changes to the system such as combat, quests, and visuals. So it's different from the original, but not entirely. I'll talk about the changes made and then review them as a whole.STORY:
Just a quick explanation to new players about what the game holds. Dragon's Dogma is your classic fantasy adventure of slaying a dragon and saving a kingdom that gets much deeper the further you go. There's undertones of Christianity and faith, as well as alot of your typical medieval themes of humanity and sacrifice. You create your own character (and a companion) to set off on your task, doing quests and slaying monsters along the way, until you finally come to slay the dragon. But there's more to the story after that as well.
So given the length and detail put into it, despite the faults and unexplained aspects, the story stands fairly strong. Many people argue whether the ending was necessarily good or bad. I recommend that you read up on biblical references if you want the best view, but I won't spoil anything.
However, the addition to the game is a bit darker. Unfortunately, there's not much to say without ruining things. Bitterblack Isle is a place between reality and thought where the faults of past Arisen come to life. When given the chance to fight the Dragon or take a wish, the Arisen chose to sacrifice his loved one in exchange for his very own piece of reality. Time does not pass here. The land has been cursed and abandoned since, and the only inhabitants are corrupt versions of creatures of Gransys. Very little is explained until the end of the DLC.
There's no changes in story from the original game to this one. Overall, despite a lack of explanation until the end, the DLC adds a nice twist to a somewhat confusing story. The ending is better represented, and the many stories of previous Arisen are shown in depth, which is why I believe it's a great DLC in terms of story. Had there been more to find along the way, in both the DLC and the main story, it would have definitely been a 5/5.COMBAT:
DD combat has always been a step up from your typical hack and slash due to the options, strategy, and simply the wow aspect of being able to climb an Ogre's leg or something similar. And that's why, even if it feels clunky or rough at times, I give DD a decent score in the range (usually a 3 to a 4). However, I've upped the score just a bit in terms of DA, because although they've barely
changed the system from the original, it is a bit smoother to operate. The 6 classes and the abilities remain, and the difficulty settings are a bit more balanced.
What makes the score so high is Bitterblack Isle's difficulty. Originally, players would have to replay the story over and over to finally reach level 200. But the DLC adds a new area full of high level foes which greatly increases the replay value of the game. Beyond that, nothing has really changed.VISUALS
Although the DA version of the game comes with updated visuals (smoother with way better contrast) the odd NPC faces and somewhat lacking expressions remain the same. The world of Gransys, however, is just as beautiful. Lush environments and an immersive city, complete with your neighborhood population of monsters.
Here's a few examples. (added through a link to keep from getting the external image issues)
Overall, there really wasn't that many changes to the game, even after going over combat, visuals, and the DLC. But one of the best features of the DA version of the game is all the new stuff they give you. Bitterblack Isles comes with new gear (high level), new consumable items, new quests (albeit small ones), and best of all, an eternal ferrystone.
The ferrystone allows you to fast travel as many times as you'd like, whereas you would originally need to use a stone every time you needed to go back to the city. Furthermore, they've added a few new fast travel points to use.
This also doesn't account for the gear they give you for free when you get the game. Although it's not exactly fashionable, you'll have some high level items right from the start. So maybe the could have added a bit more to the game's second version, but they certainly didn't add anything that wasn't of value or that made the game worse. FINAL SCORE
In short, no, there isn't that
much of a change to the world of Gransys. However, the addition of a DLC really adds to the value of the game. It's still a great choice for RPG fans looking for an immersive experience, and now, you don't have to repeat playthroughs of easy combat to get to level 200. Add that with a fairly interesting adventure and cool monsters to hunt, and it stands as a pretty solid game. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for another RPG.
Immersive and Open World
Detailed Bestiary and Combat
Limited Fast Travel
But Small Changes
Still a Lack of Depth or Explanation
Still Occasionally Clunky
And Still Repetitive Quests and Choices
Even with all the unchanged issues, the game remains one of my favorite. To put it simply, a good DLC was added to a good game to make a great deal. If you're interested in Dragon's Dogma, there's really no reason not to get the Dark Arisen version. It plays a bit better, explains a little more, and adds alot of value.