Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is an action-RPG, set in an open world. You play as an "Arisen," a hero resurrected after a dragon ripped out your heart. You'll travel far and wide in search of this dragon while encountering many mythical beasts and interesting locations along the way.
Pro Character size/weight affects gameplay
A lot of video games focus just on the stats, classes, and weapons as the key difference, but Dragon's Dogma throws in height and weight into the mix.
For example, a tall and bulky character jumps higher, carries more equipment, and has a longer reach with their weapon. The downside is that the character is slow and is easier to hit because of the size. On the other hand, a short and light character is quicker, can pass through a large monster's legs, and enter narrow passages such as Goblin holes. Unfortunately, they usually have a poor reach and can be knocked down pretty easily while not being able to carry that much equipment either.
Practically no other video game in the market uses a similar mechanic, making Dragon's Dogma feel really unique and fun.
Pro Awesome combat/hunting gameplay
The combat in Dragon's Dogma is very fast and intense. You can string together combos with swords, axes, and daggers, launch/throw enemies, shoot arrows with a bow in quick succession, and even dodge/block enemy attacks. Even the spells look absolutely amazing and feel really powerful.
For example, when you cast an ice spell called Gicel, massive spears of ice will weave forth to skewer enemies. It looks like something you'd only see bosses use in other video games, making it feel that much more empowering.
The enemies also play a large part in making the gameplay feel great. It will start out simple with you fighting bandits and packs of wolves on your travels, which will gradually turn into you taking on massive mythical beasts such as manticores, gryphons, cyclops, and even dragons. While in other games you'd probably just beat on their ankles until they fold onto themselves, Dragon's Dogma has a really cool grappling system that allows you to grab onto enemies and even throw them (if they're light enough).
For example, if a dragon makes the mistake of lowering its tail into your reach as it rains down fire and death from up above, you can just grab onto it and climb on the dragon's back. This turns into a very intense sequence of you trying to not fall off before you drive your sword into the dragon's neck.
It's the type of mechanic that makes you feel like the heroes written about in storybooks, which immensely adds to the fun and immersion.
Pro Interesting companion system
Throughout the game, you'll be accompanied by up to 3 NPCs called "Pawns." One of them will be a Pawn you created, and the other two will usually be summoned from other player's worlds. What's interesting about this is that Pawns will grow alongside players, but not just in terms of stats and levels.
For example, if you fight monsters with the Pawns, they'll gradually gain knowledge about the monsters. Once they have enough knowledge, they'll be able to give you various hints through in-game dialogue about a monster's weaknesses, patterns, habitats, and so forth. You can also hire other player's Pawns that already have acquired all the knowledge, making the learning process much easier for you.
Pawns also mimic their creator's behavior, so if you prefer to smash everything in sight, your Pawn might just do the same when visiting another player's world. It's a really cool companion system that gives the game a multiplayer feel without any actual multiplayer.
Con Limited fast travel options can be tedious
Dragon's Dogma has a very large but sparsely populated world, which means that a lot of time is spent traveling between quest objectives. There are no horses, forcing you to simply walk everywhere and the only method of getting somewhere quickly is through very costly teleports available only much later in the game. If you dislike having insane amounts of downtime, Dragon's Dogma might not be for you.
Con Forgettable story
The story starts out interesting but loses its steam shortly after. Hardly anything happens during the middle part of the story, the side characters feel bland, there are lots of plot holes, and the narrative starts feeling like a mess. Even the conclusion is somewhat confusing, trying too hard to be profound. If you're looking for a very good story-driven experience, you won't find that here.