…or in other words, I am absolutely hooked on Dragon Age: Origins (referred to as DA:O from here on out). Never before have I played a game where I have so entirely been sucked into the game play, the plot, and the character dynamics. Darick will tell you, in all of my free moments I have been at my computer playing this game. In fact, Sunday night I stayed up super late (a time which will remain undisclosed. Let’s just say I got about 3 hours of sleep before I needed to go in to the church to get some work done). I haven’t finished the game yet. I am about halfway through the second-to-last major questline, so I can’t speak for the entirety of the game quite yet, but I have a feeling what I say now I will still think once I have finished it.
I can’t say enough good stuff about DA:O, but here are at least a few of those good things:
Gameplay: I am someone who has really enjoyed (and continues to enjoy) playing World of Warcraft. I very much like running instances in WoW with others, but sometimes I get kind of annoyed when the group of people I am playing with doesn’t mesh well together. Sometimes I find a great group, but other times I get more frustrated. I really enjoy DA:O because I get the feel of playing with a party, but I am the one in control of all of the party members. That way I can make sure my tank is being a good tank and holding the aggro and my healer is prioritizing healing correctly and I don’t have to worry about people not doing their jobs. I also really like the feel of being able to control more than one role. I naturally tend to pick roles for myself that are ranged DPS, but with DA:O I get to do it all if I want to. This isn’t an entirely new thing for me, having played other more classic RPG’s (ie a couple of the older Final Fantasy games for Gameboy/DS), but the thing that I like the most about DA:O’s game play is that you can pause the game, set up your next set of tactical moves, and then un-pause it to see those actions play out in real time live action. I should mention that I am playing the PC version, which is much better for this, apparently. I know that this is not unique to DA:O, but this is the first time I have played a game that does this. (I’ll probably have to try Knights of the Old Republic after I do the expansion to DA:O). While I am still getting used to the tactical slots that allow me to determine party members’ behavior when I don’t manually direct their actions, it is nice to know that you can set them on auto-pilot and that they will react in particular ways under particular conditions. I really love playing this game.
Plot: The story line has sucked me in. I love a good fantasy story, especially one that is in a setting somewhat akin to the Middle Ages. I enjoy the overall quest of trying to unite Ferelden in order to fight the impending Darkspawn invasion. I like that the quest lines are clearly moving towards this particular end, so it feels very cohesive to me. I also love how the choices your character makes effects the plot line. Granted, the overall plot line remains the same, but the outcome for your character and the NPC’s can be drastically effected by the choices you make. One example (which reveals my own mistake): I started the quest line in Redcliffe before I went to the Circle of Magi to pick up Wynne as my healer. I realized that I really needed her for my party, so I made the mistake of leaving Redcliffe after I had spoken with Tomas. Long story short, because I left, the Darkspawn attacked Redcliffe while I was gone, and when I returned, practically the whole village was dead and I missed out on a piece of that whole experience, and the few survivors were pretty upset with me for abandoning them. I really like the ability to have your choices lead to different consequences and different options. I know once I get to the Landsmeet portion of the game I will have a lot of choices to make. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Character Dynamics: I enjoy the interaction between my character and the other characters in my party. I like getting to have dialogue with them and learning their stories, and also the occasional quips. I also like how dialogue choices can influence the relationship between characters and the type of response you give very much matters depending upon the character you are talking to. Morrigan, for instance, likes it when you tend to agree with her more cynical and sarcastic worldview. Wynne will like you more if you let her counsel you. Alistair doesn’t mind joking responses as long as they aren’t mocking him, and prefers responses that show you are listening to him and are empathetic. The character dynamics are great between the NPC’s themselves also. For instance, while I was just running around Denerin one day with my party, Alistair and Morrigan (who are not very big fans of one another) decide to have this little exchange:
- Alistair: So let’s talk about your mother, for a moment.
- Morrigan: I’d rather talk about your mother.
- Alistair: There’s nothing to talk about. And besides, isn’t your mother a scary witch who lives in the middle of a forest? Much more interesting.
- Morrigan: To you, perhaps. You would find the moss growing upon a stone interesting.
- Alistair: You know what’s more interesting than that? Apostates. Mages outside of the Tower. That’s illegal, you know.
- Morrigan: You did not read that in a book somewhere, did you? I hope the small letters did not strain you overmuch.
- Alistair: Or we could not talk about your mother. That works for me.
I find little exchanges like that to be icing on the cake.
Romance: I love (no pun intended) the fact that there are romance options. It has been really fun having Alistair fall in love with my character. The way that the dialogue progresses between him and my character as the romance develops has a pretty natural flow to it, along with some pretty awkward but cute moments. It just appeals to my romantic, girlie side and has made the plot even more enjoyable. I am still debating how I want to make things turn out with Alistair at the Landsmeet though. So many choices… I didn’t feel like the romance was too sappy though, but a relatively realistic progression of two characters coming together in the midst of the larger trials and quest of trying to save Ferelden. I’m looking forward to other play-throughs with new characters in the future where I can explore the other romance options. My character decided to show no mercy and kill Zevran this time (it just seemed like something she would do) so perhaps my next character will be more merciful and see what that progression is like.
As I said, I can’t write enough good stuff about this game, but I’ll stop for now. So there you have it, I absolutely love Dragon Age: Origins!