I recently replayed a game that I truly love, Dragon Age: Origins. Keep it straight, when I say I love this game, I do not mince words. I would legitimately give all of my worldly possessions and possibly sell a kidney to bring this fictional world to life. Dragon Age: Origins is a game that stuck with me for far longer than any other game I’ve played, and I would likely turn this article into a 50 page rant if allowed to do so. However, let’s just stick to the basics of why I love this game so that you, the readers, don’t get bored.
First off, let’s get something out of the way; loving something does not mean that you fail to see its flaws, it’s about embracing said flaws. So before I get into all the good points about Origins let me preface is by saying the battle system was, and still is, total garbage. It’s clunky, and fiddly and the delay on using your skills can often bugger you into standing still for a spell when you could be kiting. Not to mention the idea of micromanaging every single thing your party does is something that works better in theory until you realise your mage is being swarmed by about 10 enemies and your tank is standing off in the background because you forgot about him. Also for certain classes there are just clear winners in terms of power levels (*cough, Arcane Warrior*) so any grand diversity that you’ll have late game really turns into ‘I need you to pick locks, and nothing more’. Luckily though, if you’re playing Dragon Age at all, it isn’t for its mechanics.
The true appeal of Dragon Age lies in its story, and while the plot itself is the very cookie cutter ‘Here is evil, you’re the only one who can slay the evil, go do it’ trope, the world in which it takes place gives it a unique flavour. The world of Thedas has a rich, vibrant mix of cultures, all with their own beliefs and goals in life. Even if Origins is based and focuses on Ferelden culture, there’s still enough hints and explanations from your party members to leave you with a sense of wanderlust and an urge to visit these places you’ve only heard stories about.
I finished Origins begging to see the grandeur of Orlais or the mage hierarchy of Tevinter, and while I’ve only gotten to see one of those countries in subsequent games to the series, I’ve gotten more information to make me appreciate their mention in the first game. On top of this, the fact your character has such impact on the world around them and what comes from your actions in later years really sinks in when you’re reading the epilogue. Your actions did more than just decide which units you had in the final battle; they chose political leaders, shook their ideas and permanently changed how Ferelden would be in the years to come.
Beyond the world, Origins truly shines on its characters. While you might not appreciate them all, I personally grew to adore each and every person sharing my camp. On my first play through I found Leliana to be preachy and irritating, Sten was little more than silent due to the fact I barely used him and when I did he disapproved and I thought Wynne lectured me too much. However, after spending some time getting to know them and learning how I could develop their characters I got to see much more depth. They weren’t just 2-D characters that had one personality trait and nothing more. These were people, even if they were made of pixels. I won’t go into detail because I truly believe that if you’re playing this game, you should get to know these characters yourself, because that’s how I formed an attachment to them. However, I will say that your first impression of someone is often just a fraction of what’s really going on.
All in all, having played all of the Dragon Age series, read some of the books, participated in online RP forums and established a true canon for my main character which shall never be broken, I still love this game. I could spend hours upon hours listening to specific conversations, giggling at the background information I know or just getting lost in what’s going on. If you’re any sort of fan of RPGs this is one that you should already have in your collection regardless of the battle system. Because, in my opinion, RPGs aren’t about stats or attack animations, but about playing a role and being able to immerse yourself fully into that role, a goal which I fully achieved playing this game.