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Have You Played...Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen?

That Dragon Has Heart!

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Just to get this one out of the way early, I love Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen [official site]. I can’t think of another game I was more excited to see liberated from its tortured existence on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. But performance issues aside, Dragon’s Dogma was the kind of experiment I wish more companies would be willing to take—and from Capcom of all places!

I’m not sure if I can fully express why, but there’s something about Dragon’s Dogma that evokes the wonderful feeling I had growing up when playing older Japanese role-playing console games. One part of it is this kind of boundless sense of adventure that makes me excited each time I get to step outside the safety of the castle walls, but there’s a more subtle nuance to Dragon’s Dogma’s JRPGishness too.

I think it’s because Dragon’s Dogma is unquestionably weird. Not just in the mishmash of ideas that form its skeleton, but also in the story that, at times, left me completely dumbfounded for what was even happening. I mean, we’re talking about a game where you can romance any character without even realizing you’ve romanced them. There’s no real way to tell who you might’ve unintentionally led on until the final cutscene when you’ve realized that this entire time you’ve been secretly fostering a relationship with the… court jester? What?

But really, Dragon’s Dogma is just a damn fine RPG that isn’t scared to try new things even if they don’t always work out well. And it’s that sort of confidence in its own ridiculousness that makes me love even its most frustrating flaws.

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Steven Messner

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