Retrospective Gaming: Dragon Age Origins

A seven year look back at Dragon Age Origins

Dragon Age: Origins (Origins) hit stores in November 2009 and rose quickly to classic status. This “dark fantasy” role play game (RPG) sold over 3.2 million copies and gave birth to a successful three-game franchise with a fourth game in development. The series boasts two Game of the Year awards for the first and third installment, and Origins itself earned the Spike Video Game Award for best RPG, role-play game and PC game for 2009. Origins also lead into a series of spin-offs, a movie, action figures, comics, a web series, a tabletop game and five novels. The game received a 9/10 review on both Steam and IGN, with a 91 percent on Metacritic for its impressive gameplay, engrossing story and extensive customization options.
By Arryn Troche
     Origins’ story and customization entrap players from the very second the game begins. After loading up the game, a short cinematic introduces players to the magical world of Thedas and the Kingdom of Ferelden. Fredelon faces a Blight, an all out war between monsters known as the Darkspawn with an Archdemon controlling it. The only hope for Ferelden lays in the Grey Wardens, an ancient league of elves, dwarfs and humans  who commit their lives to killing Darkspawn. After this brief introduction to Ferelden, players immediately being character customization, going through dozens of cosmetic options, including hair color and style, eye color, skin tone etc. and then choose an origin story for their character. Players then chose which of six origins stories to playthrough based on race (dwarf, elf and human), class (mage, warrior and rogue) and character background (human nobility, city dwelling elf, forest dwelling elf, dwarf commander and dwarf nobility).  
    Through the different origin stories, players’ characters join the Grey Wardens and set out to stop the Blight.
Origins sets up the complex world of Thedas, players’ Wardens are thrown into a deeply developed world filled with magic, political struggles, racism, religion and pseudo-slavery as religion struggles to control powerful mages.
     Origins caters to both hardcore RPG fantasy fans and casual gamers, players can choose to spend 50 plus hours exploring, learning and causing a lasting an impact on Ferelden and answer morally difficult questions. Should people be given complete freedom if with one mistake they can kill dozens? Is religion just myths carried down from generations, or actual history? Does blood make a ruler, or ability to rule? Should people try to salvage their culture when it’s been destroyed by centuries of slavery or try?
     Origins also appeals to casual gamers with its enjoyable gameplay. Origins features two gameplay styles, the game allows for pausing time to issue a command to the four available party members or playing in real time as one character. Pausing time gives more varied gameplay as players control four characters of different classes, while real-time combat allows for quick action and excelling at one specific class. Both styles require players to find a party style they prefer, a party with two warriors and two mages, for example, has the two warriors blocking damage for the mages while they attack enemies and do more damage.
     Side characters or companions,  play a crucial part in Origins, as the party members in combat and advance the plot. They provide a light touch of comedy throughout the game, while on the brink of destruction of Ferelden.   Nine of these companions are available; Alistair, the bastard son of the King and fellow Grey Warden, Morrigan, a mage hiding from the government, Leliana, a foreign spy turned holy sister who took up arms again to stop the blight, Sten, a brooding Qunari, Oghren, an alcoholic noble dwarf warrior, Shale, a spirit trapped in a rock body, Wynne, an experienced government controlled mage, Zevran, an ex-assassin and Dog, a nameable lovable war hound.
     Decisions players make change how companions view the player. If companions favor the player, they unlock special character quests and Morrigan, Alistair, Leliana and Zevran can be romanced with high enough approval ratings.
     Dragon Age Origins began an award-winning, multi-million dollar, four- game franchise. Although the game aged gracefully into the past, many players still enjoy playing it today. Graphically, Origins shows it’s age, but the story still draws players into the game. With its' unique attributes and engaging games, Origins convinces players to spend over 50 hours on one playthrough. Once the first playthrough is over, a second one begins  with a different class, race and background. With its complex story, amazing side characters and fun gameplay, Dragon Age Origins earned its classic title and is a must play for all fantasy RPG fans.
-Emily Enriquez, Online Editor

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