Rising from the ashes is a re-release of an already quite accomplished RPG title from Capcom. This new edition not only includes the original full game but new additions you would expect from any DLC, and some you may not; new enemies, locations, quests, character customisation, weapons, armour and more. The Xbox 360 version comes with 2 disks, 1 for the original Dragons Dogma with the Dark Arisen expansion added (including some smaller tweaks and bug/glitch fixes) whilst the second disk contains a HD texture pack and Japanese voice over files.
ThisisXbox have already reviewed the main game, and you can read what Neil Bason thought here.
So firstly, let’s talk about the freebies. For those of you who own the original Dragons Dogma and purchase Dark Arisen, you will receive 100,000 Rift Crystals, unlimited Ferrystones (lucky buggers!) and an armour pack consisting of 6 new costumes. That should help you out on Bitterblack Isle, the location for all the action in Dark Arisen.
Bitterblack Isle is situated outside of Gransys and can only be accessed by talking with a mysterious stranger on the Cassardis Pier during night time. If you don’t like the dark, then this additional content isn’t for you. Dark Arisen is set in a massive underground realm, so be prepared to use your lantern continuously and manage your oil supplies accordingly, this is no walk in the park.
With over 25 new enemies and a pretty impressive, if not butt-ugly, new final boss added, the content is genuinely quite difficult to progress through. I remember reading reviews of the original game and loving the idea of food rotting (in your back pack) if not eaten in time, serious preparation needed for even the shortest of journeys due to fear of ambush etc. The game was described as a semi-hardcore fantasy RPG set in an open-world, a difficult open world at that. Well this hasn’t changed in Dark Arisen.
A warning to you… Don’t try to be the hero and attempt Dark Arisen if you are below level 40, it just won’t work out. My advice is to finish the main game and ensure your main and 1 other Pawn is at least twice your current level. Only then are you likely to stand a chance.
Do you remember the mysterious stranger I told you about? Well her name is Orla and she has a tale to tell about the evil that has awoken on Bitterblack Isle and of course the only one capable of stopping this evil is the Arisen. Bet you didn’t see that coming, hey? Agree to lend a hand and she will whisk you away to a pier and open area outside of the underground entrance on the Isle. Orla stands guard outside the entrance alongside a Notice Board with some quests attached. Ensure you have interacted with both before proceeding.
Once you have entered the subterranean bowels of the island you are smashed in the face with the realisation you are now far removed from the holds of Godly men you once knew in Gran Soren. Watch out for Elder Ogres, the Necrophaegus Beast (who is attracted to death!) and Death himself. Yes that’s right the Grim Reaper is traversing the sepulchral gloom of the island and will keep you on edge and continuously looking over your shoulder. He can appear at any given moment and is a complete pain in the ass and a lot harder to fight than the Dragon in the earlier game. Oh and just because you are busy dealing with a patrol of goblins in one room, don’t think the Reaper will wait for you to finish – he strikes whether you are in combat or not.
But you aren’t alone and occasionally will encounter allies on the island. They are few and far between however and don’t go a long way towards helping you understand what exactly has happened here. Everyone maintains an evil streak just bubbling below the surface, including Orla whose ability to remove curses from items is questionable. Unfortunately the writing in Dark Arisen is no better than that of the main game. There are funnier moments involving a small number of interesting and morally ambiguous NPC’s, but generally you’ll still find yourself beset by the same overuse of ‘ill’ and ‘aught’ and annoyingly poorly scripted Olde Englishe.
Throughout your adventures on Bitterblack Isle there’s a definite sense that you’re running some kind of gauntlet, a test of skill, courage and – occasionally – endurance. The enemies come at you thick and fast and, while the first few areas are filled with the usual blade-fodder you’d find while wandering Gransys’ backroads, later on you’ll find yourself repeatedly thrust into a world of hurt. You can, thankfully, find a few broken Riftstones to repair – and you’ll need them.
You have to hand it to Capcom as they have really surpassed themselves with this additional content. It has a sense of focus, purpose and is centered well. It doesn’t just aim to deliver another run-of-the-mill DLC pack with quests, loot and enemies, it delivers instead a test to new and experienced players alike, somewhere those who stand victorious at the end of the main game can go and face a genuinely tough challenge. When you combine all the content and tweaks together then Dark Arisen should be on every Dragons Dogma fans shopping list. Congratulations Capcom – have 9/10 on me.
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