Press Start: Dragon Age Origins (2009, PC)

This time, I’ll be talking about the first instalment of the Dragon Age franchise, Dragon Age: Origins. It is, as you might be able to tell from the title, about the origins of the world of Thedas. It focuses on you, the Grey Warden, and your companions as you travel through Ferelden trying to form an army and defeat the dreaded Blight.

IGN Rating: 9/10

My Rating: 10/10

Okay so I will admit it’s been a while since I finished Origins, but I started up an unfinished play through and thought I should do a little write up on it (especially as it is one of my all time favourite games).

Plot: …is fucking amazing! Dragon Age Origins was an RPG breakthrough, the pioneer for future choice based games. I’m sure some would disagree with me, saying that the Fable franchise was really the first to realise option based gaming, and to some extent that is true. But, I feel like Dragon Age went the whole nine yards where Fable decided to put the breaks on.

The plot, within reason, is yours to create. Your character is your own invention, each with their own back story. You can be Male or Female, a blessed Bioware tradition and, depending on which race and class you decide to be, you’re given an unique origins story (hence Dragon Age Origins I guess?). You could be a Human noble or mage, an Elven mage or warrior (with two differing stories for the warriors) or a Dwarven noble or commoner.

Not only did the game give you real character depth, your companions were just as detailed as your own; diverse in gender, sexuality and race. You could romance members of your party, or none at all. Through your decisions it is determined who the future ruler of Ferelden will be, who would follow you to the end game, whether you lived or died and much more. All of your choices matter, meaning they are reflected in the final outcome and future games.

Gameplay: I adore this game but I’m not blind to it’s flaws, of which there are few, but still. One of the biggest features I liked about it is that you can have multiple answers to questions, all suggesting different tones and attitudes and all soliciting different reactions from whomever you’re talking to.

Many people have noted that the approval system is easily bypassed through buying and/or obtaining gifts. i.e. with enough sugar cakes, Alistair will fall in love with you – blood mage or no. There’s even a DLC pack, Feast Day Pranks I think it’s called, that give you specialised gifts for each member of your party. There are 2 per person and each can either put the approval up or down by 50 points. (That’s a lot). Of course, if you don’t want to ‘cheat’ like that, the easy answer is: don’t use them.

I’m always sad when you can’t jump in games. Maybe because when you can jump in games you end up being able to ‘parkour’ everywhere instead of walking around like a normal human being (or elf or dwarf). If you wait til Inquisition however, you can throw yourself from Skyhold’s roofs to your heart’s content.

Another thing that was slightly irritating to me was how you’re unable to have your dog as a sidekick (or summoned companion) and instead have to have them take up a character slot, lessening the chances of entertaining banter and personal encounters your companions might have. But not to fear! There’s a mod for that.

I’m not a massive fan of the point-to-ability system, but it works and theirs isn’t too horrendous (yes Bethesda, I’m talking to you). The fighting and tactical view are great and even on easy mode it can be quite challenging, unlike the sequels.

Graphics: The graphics aren’t half bad, at times I thought they were as good as, if not better than, Skyrim’s. Always check your graphics settings, I say this because I had mine on pretty low and didn’t notice til I saw screenshots of someone else’s game – you really miss out on the fantastic details so, don’t make that mistake!

Other: I love this game to pieces, not only does it have a fantastic interface but the storyline and lore is intricate and incredibly well thought-out. There are twists and turns, multiple plots criss-crossing each other and some really heart crushing romance scenes. The DLC is also fantastic and I’m going to make a separate review on Awakening soon (because it’s practically another game in itself).

That’s it from me for now and I hope you enjoyed this week’s Press Start article. Please leave your own opinions in the comments below, I would love love love to read them – even if they differ from my own.

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