So when it comes to favorite things, like most people it usually isn’t black and white. My favorite bands? Well, I usually ring off the same five, rappers, on the other hand, that would be Kendrick Lamar. Favorite basketball player? All-time J.J. Reddick, In reference to the NBA, that’s the bearded Harden. The point I am trying to make is that favorites are contextual most of the time. But there is one thing that does not follow that rule in my life. My favorite game.
Now I am a massive fan of a lot of games. I’m a huge TES nerd, loved Bioshock and Disco Elysium. But none of those games or series instilled into me an infatuation of a type of storytelling or genre. The only game to ever do that was Bioware’s (in my opinion) masterpiece Dragon Age: Origins, and its less love sequel Dragon Age 2.
Now before I go into this I want to address the title, I do not mean that Dragon Age 2 is a tragedy of a game, simply that it is a tragic tale.
Without getting too deep into spoilers the gist of these games go as such. Origins follow everything from a royal family betrayed, to a common city elf within the kingdom of Ferelden. In this world magic exist, leading a group of overly ambitious mages to quite literally see the throne of God, corrupting the heavens and damning Thedas. This event brought darkspawn, mindless tainted beasts that usually stay deep underground except on the rare event they are rallied by an archdemon. When this happens it is considered a blight as the darkspawn flood the lands above destroying everything in their path.
The only warriors that can stand against the blight are ones known as Grey Wardens. With the ability to conscript whoever they want they infuse the blood of the blight within their own, giving them the ability to feel the call of the horde, assuming they live the ritual. This is where the player finds themselves, as a Grey Warden, the players must fight but the blight while also talking political fall out, a kingdom ravaged by war and even squabble within the small party they surround themselves with.
It is a mixture of romantic ideology, the companions the player gets along the way, and the general somber feel of the world as we experience suffering, refugees, racism, starvation, all the while an army of monsters is constantly at the door. That is what makes Origin a heroic tale. It is a brilliant story about someone who bands people together and ultimately defeats a foe that cares nothing but to destroy every shred of civilization. Added with the music, atmosphere, my love of Morrigan all set this game at the top of my list and it has stayed there for years. A tale of a hero saving the world.
The Hero Of Ferelden.
The success of the game actually shocked Bioware, as they initially weren’t going to make the Dragon Age name into a franchise. I feel like a lot of people wish they never did but I for one, am going to defend the second game, but also talk about my distaste of the third, arguably most popular title.
Where the first story ends the second begins. Instead of following a self-named character, we are placed in the shoes of Hawke. Son or daughter of a father apostate mage who died three years before the start of the game, Hawke finds themselves with their mother and two younger twin siblings. Depending on what class you play the back story plays out a little bit differently but ultimately Hawke finds themselves in the slums of Kirkwall.
Kirkwall is a massive coastal city and an epicenter at the time for refugees of the blight. This naturally causes a lot of stress among the citizens and officials of the city as many, some of which are not of their kind, flood into its walls, overextending its already worn fail safes. With tons of starving bodies and poverty that stress quickly becomes hostile, turning Kirkwall into a powder keg ready to blow, giving little to no relief from the Templars stationed there.
That is mostly to do with the Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard being a mage hunting zealot and her lack of a soft touch.
So with the stage set, Hawke is bound to rise to political power, help the people of Kirkwall and save the city. Not quite the kingdom saving from a ravishing blight but honestly, it is a stage I haven’t seen in any other game and DA 2 does a damn good job of it. What follows, however, I feel different from the first game.
Both Hawke and The Hero Of Ferelden suffer greatly, being forced to make horrible decisions that sometimes cost the lives of people close to them. But in the end, Hawke is forced to do something that would damn them. Though The Hero, as well as the Gray Wardens, vanish after the blight, that is what they always do. Hawke on the other hand is forced to go into hiding, their suffering and success bringing more harm than good depending on what choice is made at the end.
Hawke’s outcomes are a net loss either way as far as the lore of the world goes. They are forced to be the bad guy to at least some parties no matter the outcome. The Champion of Kirkwall becomes either a call of rebellion or oppression, something The Hero Of Ferelden never was. The Hero ended the blight, a positive note, The Champion, however, ended with a different connotation.
I am trying to be vague, but that is a general idea.
Dragon Age: Origins as well as two are really, really good games. I think the first being one of the best of all time and the second not quite living up to it but in the context of their own dark stories, they tell two different tales. Different on the scale, different on suffering, different on the ending, different on how the world of Dragon Age will be shaped by their actions.
Then we have 3, Inquisition. To be blunt I wasn’t a massive fan of this game for one simple reason. It was designed as an open-world RPG, it was a story about exploration and discovery, not so much suffering and overcoming. Of course, I do feel the third carried some sort of dark fantasy the first two championed well but it felt fake. For those who have played all three games you would know how the story progresses within each game, the outcome makes sense, but it didn’t make me like it anymore.
The blight was a terrifying foe. Kirkwall being primed to explode set the same type of anxiousness but on a more, isolated level. The rifts, I just couldn’t get behind, then you add the civil war, the Wardens, all of these moving elements one could just strikeout of the game like they never mattered just added to that fake feeling.
It was as if none of it mattered.
But yeah, I was just thinking about this earlier today and figured I’d write about it. As far as the franchise goes I don’t know if I will get 4, honestly, the trailer looked pretty stupid and if it is going the way 3 did I think it is time for me to step away from the franchise.
As always thanks for the read!