As an avid gamer, I have played numerous genres of video games in my time, through various consoles and computers. Out of all the different styles I have played, my favorite would definitely have to be open world role playing games (or RPGs for short). To me, any game in which your choices have an effect on the ending, or change how other characters in the game will react to you, is one of the best types of games to play. The one that best fit this style (and I consider one of the best games I have ever played on a computer) is “Dragon Age: Origins”. In this game, you take on the role of a new member of the Grey Wardens, forced to work your way across the country of Thedas as you recruit allies to aid you in what may be the fight which determines the world’s fate, as well as the political scheming of your greatest enemies. Here’s a quick summary of some of the reasons I love the game:
- Extensive character creation
- Multiple character races
- Multiple fighting styles
- Potential in-game romance
- Your choices matter
- Multiple choices = multiple endings
- Graphics are sub-par
- The extended intro gets dull after several playthroughs
- The “romance scenes” are a little ridiculous
Obviously, the game has more positives to it than negatives. After all, I have played this game no less than seven times, and enjoyed it each and every time, simply because there is so much possibilities to be found in the game itself.
Let’s start off with the graphics. Admittedly, they are fairly poor when compared to the games often found today. The colors are a bit dull. However, for a game of their time, the 3D rendered backgrounds are pretty high class. Occasionally I have faced problems with the sky or mountains flickering behind my character due to some bug or other, but this has never resulted in the game being unplayable. In other words, it is fairly easy to ignore, and should not affect your overall opinion of the game.
The world of Dragon Age: Origins is – in every sense of the word – a fantasy realm. Four races dominate the world: Dwarves, Humans, Elves, and Qunari. As the player character, you have the option of playing one of the first three. Along with the race, you also have the option of customizing your character’s face (including their hair and tattoos), voice, icon background, and icon expression. Once this has been chosen, you have the option of three fighting styles which will not only determine your character’s class, but also play a part in their origin due to game lore: Rogue, Mage, and Warrior. Dwarves are incapable of becoming mages, due to their inability to harness magic, but beyond that, any race can choose any class. From there, an origin story is chosen based on your class – mages all begin in the same origin story, but rogues and warriors will have two options for each race, for a total of seven origin stories. These stories play a large part in the game’s storyline, as well as providing a tutorial. What is best about the origin story, is that depending on your choices, characters later in the game will react to you based on them – or at the very least, you will hold some insight that other origins would not.
Companions play an important part in this game, though they do not come as easy as one would expect. Out of the eight potential companions for the game (excluding those obtained through DLCs), only two are guaranteed to become “party members”. The others can be refused or otherwise lost for good depending on the choices made in the game. While this will not affect any major storyline progression, this would minimalize the amount of available side quests and interaction available for the player. I personally would recommend trying to get all companions at least once, as the potential conversations alone have proven to be both hilarious, and at times, a bit heartwarming. Or incredibly snarky, if you are speaking to one of the guaranteed companions.
Along with this, comes the opportunity for romance: Morrigan, a guaranteed party member, is available for male characters to romance. Alistair, the other guaranteed party member, is available for female characters. Leliana and Zevran – two companions who can either be recruited or left behind – are available for either male or female players. None of them have any qualms when it comes to the character’s race, although this can be addressed through certain dialogue options. Romance does not come easy in this game – the dialogue you speak, the choices you make, and the gifts you give to your party members (both in regards to type and amount) will all affect a character’s “approval rating”. If it gets too low, you will be faced with the opportunity to either lose this party member for good (excluding Alistair or Morrigan), or convince them to stay. However, if they are romanceable, and their approval reaches high enough, this leaves you with the opportunity for a “romance scene”. Filled with hauntingly beautiful music, and strangely enough – white underwear clad character – this proclaimed “romance scene” (supposed to serve as a moment in which the characters have sex, although beyond the medieval underwear and some suggestive touching, is fairly safe to view) is a bit ridiculous to view. Nonetheless, there is a sense of romance and victory to be found with each successful relationship.
All in all, Dragon Age: Origins is a wonderful game. Yes, it is less high definition than most games are found to be today (having been released in late 2009), and has some aspects that could be improved on. However, none of that has ever left the game unenjoyable, and the re-playability rate alone should be enough to show that. I would especially recommend this game to any fans of Bioware or fantasy RPGs, but for anyone else look for a good game to invest hours of play in – pick up a copy of Dragon Age: Origins. You won’t be disappointed.