Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Cartridge/Disc/Digital
Players: 1
Online: n/a

Here?s Dragon?s Dogma: Dark Arisen for the Switch and it?s the port of an upgraded version of the original Dragon?s Dogma back on the Xbox 360 and PS3. While this game may not be new I?m willing to bet that many have heard of this game but never played it for one reason or another. Well now that it?s on Switch we have another chance to see what all the fuss is about since most who did play this gem absolutely love it!

So first off you play as an Arisen who at first is a humble villager but when you piss off a dragon it steals your heart and challenges you to find and take it back from said dragon. Now the story doesn?t start off as much and for a good bit will take a backseat but it is here and like any good game Dragon’s Dogma is more about the journey than the end. The reason being that this is an open world game which was all the rage at the time which leaves you with lots to explore and do at your own pace.

You won?t be alone since you will be aided by a party of up to three friendly CPUs called Pawns. And you can feel free to treat them as such because in the game they aren?t humans but come from a different world where you summon them. So you will constantly be entering the Rift or encountering Pawns who might serve you better than your current party so they?re disposable but very helpful. And while you will always have a main Pawn you don?t need to have a full party so feel free to go with a small group if that makes you feel like a pro. I personally love the Pawns who are both very helpful and somewhat helpless at the same time and remind me of things such as Pikmin.

So the game plays like a mix of Dark Souls with Skyrim where there is a good-sized open world to travel but the combat is so very satisfying. And this is the best part of this game because with the right party you can take on monsters far stronger than you but still conquer these foes. I never tire of fighting aggressive enemies like chimeras since you can cling to enemies larger than you while they charge around as you stab their weak spots like a mini Shadow of the Colossus fight but with all kinds of smaller enemies and explosions from a surrounding battle.

The fun of this game really is in poking around and while I played it long ago I quickly found myself sinking time back into my character and party just for the fun of adventure. Of course you can spend the core 40 hours or so in the main story but the game is so fun to play that you will probably do more than the bare minimum.

And this is where the game shines on Switch because this really is a console that is perfectly suited to the world of Dragon?s Dogma. Similar to other games where you have hundreds of hours of things to do it?s just awesome being able to take the game to your kids talent show or other less interesting events.

As far as this port goes I?m happy to say that it?s all here and plays exactly like you?d want it to. No it?s not going to be maxed out like a super crazy PC version but the frame rate was very stable except a few small drops in very complicated battles with lots of enemies and effects onscreen. Nothing that will affect your playing the game and the same goes for performance on the go. Resolution does drop but the game still looks very nice and the full experience carries over when on handheld mode. And since this is Dark Arisen you will hey the original game plus all the DLC and additions to this version. And this is good not just for the extra areas but there are changes that hugely improve the base game like the Eternal Ferrystone you?re given early on which makes fast travel so much easier!

I?m also happy to say that the online features like access to Pawns created by other players work well and don?t require the Nintendo Online services. This is probably because how Pawns work doesn?t rely on sharing a session or any kind of multiplayer like say Mario Kart since all you?re doing is basically browsing a store. I did notice a long wait while the game syncs with the network after resting at inns but it?s a minor inconvenience.

As far as the visuals they look great on the Switch. Of course the resolution and details hit in handheld mode is going to be there but Dragon’s Dogma is kind of a misleading game in the graphics department since much of the world is grey and brown and green but the lighting really shines. Any time the day changes to or from night you will be treated to a very pretty glow and the need for a lantern at night with the starry sky above you is a nice change of pace which you?ll be seeing a lot if you venture out past dark. And the lighting at these times is so damn pretty that it’s truly where the game shines.

But many people are divided on Dragons Dogma since it?s overall a mixed bag. The landscape can look bland either on purpose or not for long stretches but then you will encounter a beast that acts and looks like it?s from a piece of renaissance art in the effort put into making them. Dialog from your Pawns also ranges from stupidity to intriguing and these kind of things are constant throughout the game. You’ll either be quoting it or muting it and I’m in the quoting camp! But the gameplay is always fun and so for those like me who really enjoy Dragons Dogma all the shortcomings come off more charming than as downsides.

In a nutshell the quality of a port we got with Dragon?s Dogma: Dark Arisen on the Switch is very much what fans could hope for. The whole game is here and plays great and for $30 is a steal even today because of the quality hours of content here. For those looking to revisit the game they will be happy with Capcom?s effort and those looking for a world to rival the playtime of their biggest Switch selection will find a very fun and rewarding gem they can dig into.

Note: Capcom provided us with a Dragon?s Dogma: Dark Arisen Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-