I’ve been thinking about how to write this entry for quite some time, specifically from the 10th of April 2010 and up till now. Mainly because I don’t know quite how I want to describe this truly epic game and all of the things that it consists of.
I can start by talking about how I felt going into Dragon Age: Origins:
Normally before I start playing a game, I check out reviews and if I like the style, I sort of did with Dragon Age, but I really relied a lot on the feedback from friends and the feeling I began getting was fear. I know it sounds ridiculous but I was actually starting to fear the size of the game and how much time I was about to dedicate to this game. It took me months of listening to a roomie and his explorations, a co-worker starting on the game and praising it and several websites on the net praising the game.
When I finally began Dragon Age: Origins, my fears were dispelled almost immediately and I got right into the story, all the available DLC and I even had the expansion ready and waiting when I was around 60% through the game.
Going into Dragon Age, without ever having completed or played Baldur’s Gate 1 or 2, I did not know what to expect or even what kind of game I was about to engage in. That did not stop me from getting completely enthralled by the game and ending up playing it as much as I could whenever I had a moment. This lead me to blazing through the content and even getting in front of a co-worker that had played it for a small month on and off before me.
What I hadn’t expected is the size and attention to detail that this game possesses. I was in for a shock, which actually made me stop playing Dragon Age for quite some time as I was just full of impressions and unable to get psyched about the game, until my co-worker ( yeah he did a lot of passionate speeches about what I was missing out on ), told me about some of the cool things that were in store for me. This resulted in me promptly returning to the game with more zeal and fervor than I’ve had in a game for a long log time.
The last steps of the journey:
As the game starts to pick up on the story and the dramatic sequences you can’t help, but appreciate the insane amount of sidequests and moral choices you are confronted with. Do you support some shady people and gain instant spoils or do you take the high road and preserve your honor? I ended up deciding that since I was a female dwarf rogue I needed to establish a rep and promptly started hunting down and killing or robbing everything that could fetch me some gold coins. I even started a dragon hunt which resulted in me attempting to slay a dragon 4, 5 or even 6 times before I had prepared myself enough to be able to kill a mighty foe.
What really gets me is how everything you do, somehow has a consequence and being a gamer that has LONGED and searched high and low for a game that finally has some bloody consequences to my actions. I relished every moment when things I had done came back to haunt me 10 or even 15 hours after I had committed acts of infamy. Or in a special case, everything comes back to haunt you, but I can’t talk about that!!
The first time you encounter one of the bigger enemies in the game is quite early and you feel awed by the damage, death animation and basically the awesomeness. This feeling lasts with all of the vital bossfights in the game and you really get the sense you are about to kill something that matters when you hack away at your enemies. The first time you see some of your enemies, it’s simply amazing!
There are so many things you can do with your characters, you can micromanage them manually or set up “Tactics” which is just amazing, even though I didn’t get half of them set properly. This is basically what your character should do in certain situations and thereby you can focus on controlling your main character. I did a whole lot of character swapping and pausing as I wanted to get further in the story and didn’t want to sit and play around with tactics. I was immensely pleased by the way the game automatically sets up some basic ones as you learn new abilities on your characters.
Dragon Age has stats, attributes, specializations, racial skills, skills that include everything from coercion to natural instincts, professions that range from trap making to herbalism, weapon specializations and tons of spells. It is filled to the brim with deep dialogue trees and has a jawdropping amount of backstory fleshing out the world that you roam, with your constant chest looting, lockpicking, thieving or just plain butchery. You encounter elves, dwarves, humans and tons of magical and non magical creatures. It is with good reason that Dragon Age has been called the RPG of the decade. I can’t say I’ve played a lot of RPG’s this last decade, but I am inclined to agreee! It is big, brilliant and incredibly immersive. You can get stuck in the Codex reading about specific kings or their ancestors for hours!
When everything was said and done after my first playthrough, which I think was on normal difficulty I had spent 41 hours and 54 minutes in the game. When I compare this to my 60+ hours in Fallout 3 I can’t help but feel that the 41 hours are pure storyline (and a TON of sidequests) where as the 60+ hours in Fallout mostly ended up in myself wanting to explore and revisit everything that I could. 41 hours of story is just mindblowing since the trend has been that games had around 10 hours of single player or story and then you would get a lot of optional things you could explore afterwards.
This is my character after I finished my playthrough: My character after 1 playthrough
I admittedly used this website quite a lot in my search for information concerning some parts of the game. Unmarked quests, 1 time events that you would miss if you weren’t extremely attentive or just wanting to find and buy the best weapons in the game. If you don’t let it destroy the game for you and reveal the plot before you experience then it is incredibly useful and a fantastic way of letting you focus on the characters, the dialogues and the fantastically grand storyline that awaits you.
If you enjoy detailed and rich fantasy worlds, with an insane amount of lore. Weapons, dragons, hours of dialogue, moral choices and so much more, then this game is right up your alley. If you don’t like the old elves, humans and dwarves formula, sprinkled with a ton of possibilities then this game will be very long and an arduous journey to undertake!
One thing I can’t stress enough is, use the TAB key if you want to see where all interactive objects are. I spent 80% of the game without this and if you are anything like the vacuum cleaner that I am when it comes to these games you will be beating yourself when you find out you missed something because you didn’t spend those 10 extra seconds moving your mouse around 5 feet of the ground.
Bottomline, the game is amazing!