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Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition 6-Years Later Review

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Story:

Even before you start any gameplay, you are making story decisions in Dragon Age: Origins. Like other RPGs, you are able to customize your character, and that includes picking the race, but that choice will impact more than just stats and appearance. The different races have different origins to the game and will have different dialogue options and interactions throughout the campaign, and even in the DLC. Origins are also set by the class you choose or have available to you, as some classes are race-dependent. For example, dwarves cannot be mages, humans can only be nobles or mages, and elves can be mages, Dalish, or city elves. (The Dalish are nomadic, free elves that just try to survive against racist humans.)

After designing your character and starting the gameplay, you will have what are effectively prologue missions to complete, and before long you will be exposed to the darkspawn. According to the mythology of the game, darkspawn were once powerful mages who sought to reach the plane of the gods. As you can guess, things did not go well as their presence corrupted the Golden City and themselves. When they returned, they were the twisted darkspawn, cursed with the Taint that corrupts whatever they touch. The Taint is particularly important to the story as it initiates the story in a couple ways, although one of these is not explained until the Awakening expansion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though you play as one race or another, you will be inducted into the Grey Wardens during the beginning of the game. The Grey Wardens are renowned warriors with the explicit purpose of fighting darkspawn and stopping Blights. Darkspawn are continually a threat to people, but this threat only elevates to a Blight when there is an Archdemon leading it. Without one, the darkspawn are mindless beings, seeking to destroy, and with one they can become an ordered army that threatens the entire world.

Anyone is able to fight and kill darkspawn, not just the Grey Wardens, but only the Wardens can sense them. This is because the joining ritual that all Grey Wardens must survive involves taking the Taint in. Eventually the Taint will kill a Grey Warden or change them into a ghoul not unlike the darkspawn, but until then, they are necessary for ending Blights.

 

With a new Blight upon you, much of the main story revolves around gathering allies amongst the elves, mages, dwarves, and humans. This will not be easy, as it has been so long since the last Blight that many races have turned inward and focus on their own problems. You do have old treaties to compel them to help you, but until you help settle their problems, none are able or willing to help you. On top of that, a human general betrayed his king and you during a battle at the beginning of the game. This general blames the Wardens for the loss and death of the king, so most people do not trust you and want you dead.

As you play through the story, you will encounter a large number of people, and several can actually join you in your travels. With the right choices, you can have a band of humans, mages, an elf, and a dwarf all working with you, and with the The Stone Prisoner DLC you can also have a golem at your side. Through gifts, dialogue options, and side missions you can improve your relationship with your companions, which will provide them with stat bonuses, and more information about them. You are able to initiate romantic relationships with some of these companions, if you have high enough approval with them, have given them the right gifts, and made the correct dialogue options.

 

You can only have up to three companions with you at any given time, and who you choose can also impact dialogue options. These companions will also talk and bicker with each other as you run around. On many occasions I stopped to listen to what they were saying because of how funny some of these conversations are. Obviously these conversations are dependent on which companions you have in your group.

There are many more side missions in Dragon Age: Origins than just your companion missions and they easily add hours of gameplay. Unlike some other RPGs though, these missions tend not to distract from the main campaign. Either the missions are too short to lose yourself in or are actually servicing the main campaign, even though you seem to have strayed from that path. Clearing out the Tower of Magi of demons may not directly inhibit the advance of the darkspawn, but it is what enables the mages to help you fight them at the end of the game.

 

The complexity and depth of the story of Dragon Age: Origins is really quite impressive, especially when you consider that it never betrays itself by letting you escape the purpose of the game for long. The choices you make will influence each other by opening up some possibilities and closing off others, but every time it makes sense, and makes you want to play again and again to see how things could be different. Truly this is one of the better stories in video games I am familiar with.




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