When preparing to write this article, I attempted to find out just how many times I’d completed Dragon Age: Origins. I’m pretty sure it’s about five, with my sixth play through in progress. But that’s the beauty of the BioWare classic, released in 2009. With multiple origin stories and play styles, the choices you make have far reaching consequences on every subsequent game in the series.
The fantasy tactical RPG sees you as one of the last Grey Wardens, facing trials such as a murdered king, a devastating betrayal, and a horde of enemies threatening to overthrow all of the land of Thedas. As well as your player character, you control up to three others in combat mechanics that are intricate yet interesting. You can pause combat, tactically manoeuvre your heroes and micromanage their every last move if you so wish, making harder difficulty runs all the more challenging.
While I love this style of combat - which is so different to the games I usually play – it’s truly the storyline and characterisations of this game that I adore so much. There is so much lore, and the game delights in sharing it with you. While you could have a perfectly acceptable time skimming through the game, never reading the codices (many do), the completionists and world builders like me can spend hours and hours learning about the beautifully rich backstory to this world. It helps solve the problems of ‘the bad guys are just bad because they are’; everything happened for a reason, every action has a reaction. Very rarely is someone wholly correct. Templars lock mages up in fancy prisons? Bad. Unsupervised mages may be possessed and turned into demonic abominations? Not good either.
The characters are maybe the strongest aspects of the game. As you get closer (or more antagonistic) with your party they will open up or even turn against you. The act of building trust really invested me in my group and thus the game, meaning I’d often play far longer than I intended to just so I could complete their personal questlines and make them happy. BioWare also does an excellent job attaching you to your player character; the legend of them is carried on to subsequent games where you can find little titbits on their heroic misdeeds. When the third instalment, Dragon Age: Inquisition, told me my original Warden had gone missing and was presumed dead I actually had a little bit of a cry.
The act of building trust really invested me in my group and thus the game, meaning I'd play far longer
Even with the emotional turmoil this game puts me through I just keep coming back. There’s something comforting drifting through the old environments, listening to the familiar stories from much loved faces. And with multiple endings and a score of ways to get to them, every attempt can be something new. The Complete Edition of Dragon Age: Origins is available on Steam. I truly recommend you get it for a story-rich fantasy romp that you won’t regret.