Hello gamers and welcome to day two of week seven in our 100 reviews in 100 days countdown.
Protecting the #70 spot from Blight…
Dragon Age: Origins is an incredible game that was released in 2009 from Bioware. At the time, Bioware was just coming off the success of a recent new IP, Mass Effect, and had already established itself as a quality RPG developer with past successes such as Baulder’s Gate and the acclaimed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Bioware does an awesome job in their role playing games at building up the backstory to their worlds. They don’t just limit themselves to the time or place that their game is set in. They provide a quality backstory and complex world for the game.
Dragon Age: Origins represented a return to their roots in the fantasy RPG genre. Dragon Age is set in the land of Ferelden, in a world that has been plagued by Dark Spawn. Ferelden is a country on the continent of Thedas, a land with a complex political history, full of wars, betrayals and conquests. Other countries are referenced throughout the game, each with it’s own history and political intrigue. The game does well at depicting the complexity of life on Thedas, with characters having different backgrounds and attitudes towards other races and nationalities within the game. The title of the game aptly describes how you start playing the game, selecting not just your character gender, look & race, but also your character’s origin story. Each character you can play can have a different background origin to them, such as being from nobility, from poverty, from a nomadic life (Dalish elf, or just a commoner). The origin story you select plays out in the early parts of the game and covers how your character came to be introduced to the Grey Wardens.
After playing through your origin story, your character is recruited to join the Grey Wardens, an elite force in Thedas that leads the battle against the Dark Spawn. Through their joining ceremony, each Grey Warden gets the ability to sense when Dark Spawn are nearby, enabling them to lead other people to fight them. Most of the time, the Dark Spawn are just a nuisance to the people of Thedas, typically staying in their underground caverns. Every so often though, the Dark Spawn manage to change one of the “old gods” (i.e. dragon) into a Dark Spawn creature known now as an Arch Demon. The Arch Demon is powerful enough to lead the Dark Spawn above ground into Thedas. When that happens, it is called a Blight. Grey Wardens can sense the Blight coming and are tasked with organizing the defense. Usually it takes a full blown Blight to get the squabbling nations of Thedas to set aside their differences and fight together to defeat it.
As a Grey Warden, you recruit a small squad of loyal followers that help you recruit armies to help defend against the oncoming Blight. Each of your followers has their own backstory and motivations as to why they’re helping you. Your efforts to unite the land to defend against the Blight has unique challenges as well. Many of the leaders in the land are reluctant to believe the Grey Wardens that a true Blight is upon them. Many doubt your motivations, due to the company you keep in your squad. Many are hesitant to trust the other nations of Thedas to work together. As you play the game and work to unit the people, the game comes to a climax with an epic battle against the Arch Demon and its forces.
The game does have it’s drawbacks though. The game really doesn’t do much to hide that it’s based off of a turn based RPG design. You can pause the game during battles to assign specific attacks or abilities to each of your party members. The drawback is that battles are not asynchronous and can come off as cumbersome. The upside is that you can take full control of your party members in terms of how they attack and use their abilities during the heat of a large battle. The graphics engine leaves a bit to be desired, as this is based off of the engine used in Knights of the Old Republic and not the same engine Bioware used in Mass Effect. The result is that Dragon Age can feel dated when compared to Mass Effect, even though Mass Effect preceded it by almost two years.
Not many role playing video game developers can pull you into the lore as effectively as Bioware can. Dragon Age does this very effectively. The added bonus of DLC missions further expand the Dragon Age world and story to you.
- The Golems of Amgarrak – Provides extensive additional content to the Dwarf culture and history.
- Leiliana’s Song — Provides background story missions for one of your allies, Leiliana.
- The Stone Prisoner — Provides short story mission that allows additional ally character to join your squad.
- Warden’s Keep — Provides additional mission where you explore the fortress on Soldier’s Peak, a former headquarters of the Grey Wardens.
- Return to Ostagar — Provides extra story mission that follows up on early game content.
- Witch Hunt — Follow up story mission set after the game finale.
- The Darkspawn Chronicles — Alternative history story mission where you play as the Dark Spawn.
- Awakening — This is the most expansive DLC content, almost an entirely new game itself. Your character travels to the city of Amaranthine, recruits new party members to help. This DLC also provides new character abilities.
Overall, Dragon Age: Origins is a superb Role Playing Game that has a very well crafted world to play in. Bioware again shows why it’s one of the premiere role playing game developers out there. If you’re a fan of the genre and haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out and should definitely go pick this game up. When all is said and done, I leave you with a 3.5 out of 5.