Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is an expansion of Capcom’s 2012 critical hit Dragon’s Dogma. Purchasing Dark Arisen gives you the entire game, the expansive Bitterblack Isle expansion and a few improvements in game play. For this review, I’m going to focus on the new content provided and not the main game play. If you would like to read my review of the original game, click here.

Biiterblack Isle is a character of Dragon’s Dogma in and of itself. The island’s key locations are beautiful and unique: from the epitaph in the opening gate to lush greenery and wildlife outside of Duskmoon Tower. Unfortunately, that feeling quickly dissipates as you begin exploring the dungeons, or as they are called on Bitterblack, Wards. Many of the wards use similar designs, textures and even whole areas down to the statues and layout.

From the back of the game box to tips on loading screens, Dark Arisen claims to have all new monsters that no one on Gransys has ever seen before. While no warrior may have seen these creatures before, you sure have fought them before. The wolves, hobgoblins, etc. all feel like old friends. The large bosses do vary some from The Reaper to a giant werewolf.

I will say one big improvement in Dark Arisen is how some of the set pieces of the story play out. In one battle with a cockatrice (a dragon with a rooster’s head), my pawns and I were attacking from a balcony and some hobgoblins were attacking the monster from the ground. Thinking the hobgoblins were minions of the cockatrice, I dropped down and started slaughtering the hobgoblins. Then, a message appeared on my screen informing me that leaving corpses around may not be a good idea. A second later, a giant werewolf with more than twice the life of the cockatrice arrived and two hits later, I was dead.

While Capcom claimed to have many improvements on the game play, I feel they really missed out on pawn strategy and AI. It is still too often that my pawns place themselves in predicaments where they cannot recover. Not that I cannot save or resurrect my pawns, but I keep finding myself having to abandon a fight because I am unable to give my pawns better directions or they are all dying. My hope is that if Capcom greenlights a sequel, that they are able to focus in this area.

Overall, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen delivers a fantastic experience as the original along with some good additional content. If you have not yet had the chance to experience this game, you will thank yourself by picking up Dark Arisen and playing through the entire adventure of Gransys and then explore the mysteries of Bitterblack Isle. For those who already own the original Dragon’s Dogma, you do get plenty of rewards for being loyal to the franchise, though I warn you that tackling Bitterblack Isle is not for the faint of heart. You probably want to make sure you have completed the main adventure before heading to the docks of Cassardis.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen is available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $39.99.

Related Links:

Dragon’s Dogma Review

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Preview

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Trailer

Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen Gameplay