This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Dragon’s Dogma was developed by a Japanese team at Capcom, which might turn off RPG fans used to the typical differences in design philosophy between Japanese CRPGs and their Western counterparts. That would be an enormous mistake; Dogma is, if anything, a slap to the face to the notion that JRPGs and Western CRPGs must necessarily be separate traditions worked on by separate developers. For the most part, the game resembles an action RPG take on Dragon Age or Skyrim, with the player free to explore the game world as they wish and with plentiful activities to do alongside the main plot, with a main character who is highly customisable. At the same time, it shares with JRPGs an emphasis on apparent endings that aren’t actually endings, eccentric cosmologies, a main plot which is essentially linear (though some major features, like the identity of your love interest, are variable), and a “New Game Plus” option to replay the game after completing it with new challenges and features.
Dragon’s Dogma casts a magnificently customisable “you” (wide range of body shapes and ethnicities can be realised here) as a simple peasant resident of the fishing village Cassardis. One day, your peaceful life is disrupted when the town is attacked by the terrifying dragon Grigori. Foolhardy sort that you are, you dare to stand and face the dragon, who delicately cuts out your heart and swallows it as you watch for your trouble.