Dragon's Dogma, one of Capcom's most underrated games of the past few years, is getting a new lease on life, thanks to the great PC version that just launched. It's also an opportunity for more people to discover how batshit the story gets. I kept playing Dragon's Dogma because the game's dynamic combat kept me on my toes for hours -- it was definitely not the slumbering story or characters. But everything changed in the moments before the credits rolled, as Dragon's Dogma revealed its ultimate gambit, prompting players to make some wild choices.
OK, let's set up the world of Dragon's Dogma, in case you're not familiar with it.
The game opens with a sturdy knight fighting an enormous dragon and a few other enemies, before a mysterious voice beckons them into a door. Fading to black, the line "and countless lifetimes come to pass", appears on the screen, suggesting it's been many years (generations?) since the scene you witnessed.
A tiny sea village is suddenly besieged by -- you guessed it -- a dragon, and the player heads to the sandy shores to try and fight back. You can't do shit, though, and the dragon quickly pushes you on the ground, tears out your heart, and declares you're the "chosen one". Nice way to tell a person they're special! Since your heart's been taken by a dragon, the player is now what's called an Arisen -- a person destined with killing the dragon and taking back what's theirs.
In Dragon's Dogma, there are two kinds of people: humans and pawns. Though pawns look like humans, they don't exert free will, age and can't die. They exist to serve the Arisen, whenever one might show up, and otherwise hang around the world. You create a pawn at the start of the game and recruit others in a place called the Rift -- a limbo where pawns are summoned from other worlds.
(Being a pawn seems like a crappy job.)
The main quest line in Dragon's Dogma involves helping out duke of Gran Soren, the main game world. The duke tasks you with investigating a cult called Salvation, who have other plans for the dragon: they want it to kill everyone and take over. D'oh. You eventually track down Salvation's leader, but as you're about to kill him, he reveals whatever character you've romanced has been kidnapped. (I can't even remember who I bothered to romance in the game.) To save the day, you need to defeat the dragon who stole your heart. Final boss!
You defeat the dragon, reclaim your heart and expose the duke for making a deal with the devil -- the duke had partnered with the dragon to stay immortal.
In defeating the dragon, a huge hole has opened in the middle of Gran Soren, exposing a doorway to Everfall, a world where the most dangerous creatures reside. With a few items, the player opens a portal into the heart of Everfall.
Inside that portal is Seneschal, AKA the real big bad who's been the puppet master behind the scenes. This is the god of this world -- and he's a total dick.
"The world and all its denizens are but empty vessels," he snarls, as he explains why he's such a dick to everyone.
In other words, without suffering, there'd be no will to live. Yeah, you're a dick.
Thanks to UmbraKn1ght XBL for the clip!
While Seneschal is presented with a man's body, a female's voice is layered on top, suggesting gender isn't a central part of the equation here.
After a pretty easy fight, the Seneschal is "defeated" but it turns out this was all a test to see who should take the throne as the next Seneschal. If you had the will to fight, you have a will to live, which means you apparently have the fortitude to guide the world and take your place as the new dick of Gran Soren.
"You and I are swept up in the current, same as the rest," he says. "Each tempers the volition of the next, and the endless cycle continues. And so, until the coming of a new soul fit to craft the will to live -- someone like you. Until that day, may you guide the world ever justly."
It also turns out you're just a single Arisen playing out the same story across multiple universes. (A crafty way of explaining other people playing the game.)
He hands you the ultimate weapon -- the godsbane -- and asks you to kill him.
Yep, it's time to kill a god so you can become a god, even though you never really asked for this to be how things turned out. Hey, might as well roll with it.
You're then left in this weird other plane of existence, where you can sit in your throne or venture out into Gran Soren. Thing is, as Seneschal, nobody else can see you and you can't really do much else but attack people from the shadows -- you're invisible. It does lead to darkly humorous moments like this, though:
You're stuck. What fun is being a god if you can't talk to anyone? Do anything? There are no more quests to do. You can explore the world -- see, not touch.
And so, you have the option of doing what the next potential Seneschal is supposed to do to you: die. Yep, to move forward in Dragon's Dogma, you kill yourself. The god of Dragon's Dogma must end their life to break the cycle.
Crazy, right?! It doesn't stop there, either.
Upon killing yourself, you and your pawn plummet to the beach from the start of the game -- but you're no longer there. Instead, your pawn has taken control of your body and is greeted by your romanced partner while you were playing.
Everyone plays it cool, and doesn't ask any questions. It's better off that way.
(Side note: There are multiple ways for Dragon's Dogma to end, but this is the "true" ending. Done right, it's possible to see them all in a single playthrough.)