By : William Chandler
Day 1 of the Write A Stupid Thing Every Day, or W.A.S.T.E.D, quarantine challenge that I’ve imposed on myself.
Some loose thoughts on Dragon: Age Origins and its expansion, Awakening.
Dragon Age: Origins is, unlike KOTOR, Jade Empire, or the Mass Effects, a slow burn of a story that really only gets better as it goes on. The beginning is a dreary, morose origin of your choosing that doesn’t skimp on the spectacle, but does cut back on the Golden Age Bioware bombast ™, at least in the plot department. In my particular case, a collegiate wizarding dropout that is forced to enlist in the military after his friend gets cancelled for not telling his GF about his blood fetish. The end of the world makes an unceremonious return to a bunch of people who know it’s there and just can’t be arsed to deal with it. There’s regular shit to do, haven’t ye heard? Fields to till and politicking to bungle. All the cards are laid out on the table after the battle at Ostagar which is roughly four hours into the game. I’ve seen the end already and know exactly the form it takes. No mystery, no suspense. This stands in stark contrast to the hushed whispers and conspiratorial end of the known universe in Mass Effect, the true nature of which presents as a third act reveal. For this reason, I think, Origins has a much less gripping early game but it only goes up from here.
Not mechanically speaking, though. The game is much the same at hour 50 as it is hour 1, with the exception of more frequent difficulty brick walls to careen into once you’ve lulled yourself into a false sense of security with the combat systems. Nay, the game truly shines in just how in control of the whole experience you feel. Decisions are laid at your feet at a regular pace from the very beginning and it’s difficult to tell that they are even decisions sometimes, much less which of them might just come back to haunt you later. The ending also changes in its fine details to reflect exactly what you have or have not done. In my first full playthrough of the game, completed last month, I realized that I didn’t care for Zevran all that much. I didn’t want him out of the story or dead or anything but he’d just be that party member in an RPG whom you mostly ignore through the end of the game unless you really need something lockpicked. I’d chat with him on occasion but his particular brand of ‘I’m a silly and horny assassin boy with a lonely backstory’ just didn’t do it for me. He betrayed me later on, like he knew exactly how I felt about him, and I had to set him on fire. Whoops. Guess I won’t see you in the sequels.