Not since Dungeon Siege have I enjoyed an RPG video game as much as I’ve enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins. Unlike Dungeon Siege‘s linear gameplay and threadbare plot, Dragon Age is like entering a fully realized world that has been carefully crafted. It’s one of those fantasy worlds you wished you’d thought up first!
The game begins with a tale of hubris. Tevinter mages have ruined heaven and damned themselves, twisting them into the first darkspawn who bring a blight upon the land. The darkspawn are in turn defeated by grey wardens who rise up from the common folk and gentry to battle this unleashed evil. You then create your character, a warden to be, who may be either human, dwarf or elf. Journey across the kingdom of Ferelden as a fighter, mage or rogue. Based on your choices you will play one of six origin stories. These origins present a sort of mini-game to acquaint you with game play mechanics and ease you into your journey to becoming a grey warden. Along the way, you will meet companions to fight with, romance, or abuse, but remember, you’re dialog choices will have consequences and eventually affect the outcome of the game.
Voted one of the Top Ten games of 2009–and even PC Game of the Year–by some, Dragon Age introduces players to a rich and complex world. There are several codex entries to be found within the game that expand upon the history, culture, and religion of Ferelden and beyond. This is in addition to the main plot of the game: defeating the latest Blight and the evil behind it.
The game developers have made some interesting choices to give their fantasy world a fresh feel. Here–because of what the arrogant Tevinter mages did–mages are kept under strict scrutiny by templar knights and the chantry they serve. This Chantry of Light (the church of this world) was founded by the prophet Andraste, a Joan of Arc like figure, who championed believe in the Maker. Her martyrdom ended believe in the “old gods.” Elves in this world are lowly servants who have lost connection with their heritage, and the orc-like darkspawn are actually corrupted humans, elves, and dwarves brought together by an archdemon to cause a Blight, a cross between a war and a poisoning of the land.
Several add-on packs and an expansion pack, Dragon Age: Awakenings have followed, and due out this year is the game’s sequel, Dragon Age II. The trailer for this sequel would be any fan boy’s delight. Many RPGs and video games for the PC, PS3, or the like, nowadays have such a cinematic quality. Quite a few are more thrilling than many movie trailers I’ve seen!
Dragon Age is a thoroughly entertaining game which promotes multiple play-throughs. What if you’re character made this choice instead of that one. What’s it like to play the game as a lowly city elf? Some sections of the game do become tedious on repeat plays, but there is a lot to discover and experience here. Budding fantasy writers may even find inspiration for creating their own fantasy worlds.
Dragon Age: Origins is available to play on the PC, PS3, and XBox. Dragon Age II will be released on March 8, 2011.