Yep, I’m a BioWare fangirl. I would shout my loyalty from the top of a mountain were I not so lazy.
I bought Dragon Age for both the PC and the Xbox 360, so I could play it while Drew was playing. I hate having to share. I have now completed 2 play throughs, and I am started on my third.
My first was a female Elf mage, I chose no origin city. I was neither Dalish nor city, I was just a mage. She was named Annora, of course, and was a spirit healer. The Circle of Magi origin story was.. interesting. You learn much about the tone of the game in these first few minutes. You see First Enchanter Irving arguing with the Knight Commander of the Templars, and the tension between the Circle and Chantry is immediately evident. It is here that you’re also introduced to the first Grey Warden, Duncan (voiced by Splinter).
Right off the bat you’re given a choice, a tough choice. I don’t want to give anything away, so suffice it to say I chose the option that left me feeling rather guilty. As the entire game is based around your becoming a Grey Warden, and as much is advertised in their trailers, I feel no qualms about revealing that part of the story. Duncan recruits you into the Grey Wardens, and he takes you out of the Circle tower and takes you to the ruins of Ostagar, a very large fortress.
You meet the king of Ferelden, an excitable young man named Cailan who is obsessed with the legends of the Grey Wardens. It is here that we learn of the coming Blight that threatens to consume Ferelden, and eventually the entire world. A Blight is a surge of Darkspawn (they look like zombies) led by an Archdemon, and its goal is to eradicate life. Grey Wardens exist to combat the Darkspawn threat and keep the world safe.
I won’t go any further into the story, but I will say that I was mesmerized by the sheer amount of writing that went into this game. Along with the ridiculously massive amount of dialogue, there are also different books/notes/chapters that you pick up along your travels that delve further into the lore of Ferelden and its neighbouring countries. I listened to every person I could talk to, read every book I could, and fell in love with the game and its world.
Your companions are incredible, and it has some of the best voice work I’ve ever heard, and that says a lot considering the track record BioWare holds. The game was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. You get attached to your team mates, the actors, writers and animators did a fantastic job of bringing them to life.
BioWare said from the start that it was a ruthless, almost barbaric world. A mature world for a mature gamer, and while there are warm fuzzy spots in the game (particularly with romances, I swear to god who ever wrote Alistair is my hero), there was for sure a lot of grief and anguish.
Dragon Age presented us with difficult choices that had varying results, some of them not all that great. That’s part of the decision/consequence type game experience that BioWare has been putting out for years, but DA:O took it to a whole new level as far as I’m concerned. I never felt as conflicted with my choices in Mass Effect or KotOR as I did with this game. There were a lot of shades of grey, which is fitting, as they are the Grey Wardens after all. They bring evil into themselves to fight evil, sometimes that’s the only way to ensure peace and security.
Ferelden is not a happy Teletubby world, nor is our own. And that is why this game is amazing and worth a buy.
I fully recommend the PC version for the toolset and modding capabilities, I also hear the console versions suffer from framerate issues.