Dragon Age: Origins, a Reflection

Yesterday, information regarding the latest installment of Dragon Age, titled Dragon Age: Inquisition. For some people, this was great news, some of my dearest friends included, but for me, I found that I wasn’t excited. Even had I been, I likely would not have opted to pursue any of the information, as I try to avoid spoilers when possible, but I wasn’t moved at all by the information. No surge of excitement at the prospect of tackling the next game. It was simply a “That’s nice” moment. All of this got me thinking over the past night. Dragon Age was a series that I truly adored at one time. Dragon Age: Origins was the first big Bioware game that I really played, and it inspired me in ways that I had once forgotten. That’s why I’ve decided that today I’m going to share my thoughts on Dragon Age: Origins. RedDragonwithlogo

I still recall going into Best Buy and purchasing Origins shortly after it released. I had no real idea what the game was about, apart from what little my roommate told me before I made the purchase. It was quite a surprise to install it and get this immersive RPG unlike anything I played. My exposure to most video game RPGs had been limited to a few Japanese RPG titles, MMOs, and the Might and Magic series. Now, I had this dark, gritty fantasy world to play around in. The game offered up many different race and class combinations, and I initially settled on the Human Noble Warrior, and I never looked back.

After just playing through that character’s introduction, I was hooked. There was all this talk about a Blight, and Darkspawn, and the end of the world as we knew it, but all I could see was the revenge factor. There was only one thing that my character had to do: kill that bastard Howe. From that point forward, the story gripped me to the core. I had to play, to find out more, and to ultimately get my revenge. After that, my character went on to save the day and put an end to the Blight, becoming the savior and hero of the lands.

In retrospect, it seemed the traditional fantasy epic, but the story spoke to me on such a level that I was inspired. It had been years since I had felt this level of inspiration. I had not written anything in years. The most creative thing I had done is made characters for table top games, but to actually write a story? That had not happened in years, but the characters and story just wouldn’t leave my brain alone. I had these ideas for things that happened in between the scenes given in the game, so one night, I did just that. I grabbed a notebook, sat down, and wrote down the racing thoughts in my head. It felt good; better than good. I wanted to keep that feeling.

So, I played again. I tried the different origins, but none of them felt right after playing through their introductions. None of the characters truly spoke to me like before. So I went back, and I played the Human Origin a second time. Even though it was the same origin, I could still choose so many things to do differently, and I did. It wasn’t just cosmetic changes either. I could influence which characters lived, which died. How things transpired within the story. It was mine to mold, and the end result would be due to these choices.  The ability to replay this one game was so vast, and it was a fun challenge to see what different stories I could have told before my eyes. On so many levels, it was like having my own private D&D game being played out before my very eyes that I could choose to relive any time I wanted.

As the sequel to this game drew nearer, I felt that the story of my favorite Warden wasn’t quite settled. She chose to go along with Morrigan and the Dark Ritual. She chose to put Alistair on the throne. She would end up as Queen, as she took her responsibility as a noble of the lands very serious. Yet, that was the reason that most troubled her. She took her oaths and responsibility seriously, and the fact that she agreed to that ritual, without knowing? I knew what she really needed to do, so I replayed for a third time, and the game became beautifully tragic. The character sacrificed everything, and although she saved the lands from destruction, she could not save the things that still mattered to her. I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to that story. It was so much more powerful than the quasi-happy ending that I got from the end title cards.

I could probably ramble on for pages on all the little things, getting into specifics, but I wanted to try and keep this brief – without rehashing the full story of my Warden. At the end of the day, Dragon Age: Origins was the very game that reignited my passion for writing. I can never say enough words to truly thank the game for that alone. Next week, I’ll share my thoughts on Dragon Age 2 and how it has influenced me.