“Epic” is a word that can just be tossed around sometimes, often on items that don’t necessarily deserve it. Dragon Age: Origins is not one such product, as it has the feel of a true epic; it’s an engrossing experience that warrants attention and not just one playthrough, but multiple ones. This is a very deep title, in ways you may not comprehend your first time through, but will come to appreciate as you play again and realize just how much more there is to do than you thought. That’s a good thing too, as BioWare has designed this game to be played multiple times in various ways before you ever discover all of the content that it hides. Will you get your money’s worth if you just want to play through once though? In short, yes; that’s part of the beauty of the game and it’s world, as you will get what you put into it back.
Dragon Age: Origins takes place in Ferelden, a land that is suffering at the hands of the Darkspawn. The Darkspawn were created by mages that sought to step foot in the Golden City of heaven; they became twisted, hideous creatures that stole men and women from their homes, killing and burning everywhere they went in their attempt to rid the world of all races. They were held back by the dwarves, since they made their home in the underground, but eventually the Grey Wardens, a force of knights, mages, rogues and anyone else that can wield a weapon that was made up of all races, helped push the Darkspawn back, ending the Blight. They failed to kill the Archdemon though, and now the Darkspawn and a potential Blight loom once again on Ferelden–this is where you find yourself at the start of the game.
Nov. 3, 2009
Well, once you go through your origin story anyways. While many games, especially in the genre that Dragon Age is in, allow you to create your character, make them male or female and whatever race you would like, be it elf, dwarf, or human, none allows you the kind of backstory and full-on immersion of Dragon Age. There is a backstory for each character class–the human noble, the city elf, the forest elf, the mage, the two types of dwarf, one casteless, the other not. For the magi, you can pick either human or elf as well, and any of these characters can be male or female. The origin story gives your character a true backstory, making them a part of Ferelden and the Dragon Age universe, rather than just giving you some character you created with a stock history that never changes.
Each of these origin quests is a few hours long, and the game will treat you differently depending on what you pick. I won’t spoil anything for you, but here are some generalizations: as a human noble, you will have a score to settle later in the game that originated early on, but if you happened to pick an Elven mage, you can face the same scenario later without that emotional, personal element to it. On the other hand, you will have your own prejudices to deal with as not just a mage, but as an elf, as they are looked down upon in a racist manner in Ferelden, so it’s not like you miss out by picking one over the other. It just means that to experience all that Dragon Age has to offer, you will have to test out these different angles. Hell, if you don’t want to play through the entire game again, at worst you picked up another 12-15 hours of gameplay just so you can learn all of the different backgrounds playing through the origins, expanding on the world that BioWare has created.
It’s quite the world, too. It’s deep beyond belief, especially for an original property and the first in what may turn out to be a franchise. The characters–good, bad, and everything in between–are believable. There are no mustache twirling villains in Ferelden, tying innocent girls to railroad tracks–these are people with legitimate beliefs and ideas, and you may agree with them, you may not. Also, even those you think are pure and pious may have a hidden history that you can uncover, should you choose to do so–it’s certainly not a world focusing just on the black and white. You will pick up many documents, books and notes along the way, each of which will be added to your Codex. The Codex is a collection of those aforementioned items, plus information on enemies, friends, foes, towns, kings, history, the Wardens, the magi–you name it, it is in the codex. You could, no exaggeration, spend hours reading everything that the Codex holds. You get the impression that Dragon Age wanted to create this believable world with a full history, much like Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings novels and expanded works. They very much succeed, and in many ways that I don’t want to spoil here. Just know that if you’ve got a love for fantasy, you will adore the world created by BioWare.