Developed by Bioware and Published by EA, Dragon Age: Origins had a promising amount of production value. This game was recognized as the year’s best RPG/Game by multiple outlets including IGN, Giant Bomb, and PC Gamer. It even won awards at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards including Best RPG and Best PC game. However, the recognition this game got was quickly forgotten and though there is a devote group of people who love this game, myself included, it seems to have been lost in the discussion of great RPG’s. Let’s find out why
Dragon Age Origins has a pretty simple “Hero’s Journey” story but it throws in its own features and ideas. The world of Dragon Age is named Thedas, a world filled with piety and political tension.
The story of Dragon Age: Origins revolves around the blight, specifically the fifth one. A blight is an event in Thedas, where creatures called Darkspawn find and corrupt an old god to lead them in ravaging the surface.
You start by selecting your race and class. There are 6 different origin stories depending on what you select. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. Each origin has their own story and characters, allowing you to make bonds unique to your character and your decisions.
For example, I played through the game recently as a Dalish Elf, a nomadic people who are forced to wander after their homeland was lost, they have deep ties to nature. After I finished the game, I was offered a reward from the ruler and decided to give my people a permanent home.
I know it’s a not large change, it’s really just a special dialogue option, but it felt like more. This game made me care for the Dalish people and their issues, which is more than I can say for most games.
The supporting cast in this game is possibly the most well-developed cast of characters with few exceptions. They have their own personalities that grow and change based on your decisions, and relationship with them. I don’t want to go into full detail about the characters and story, it’s better to actually unravel the game for yourself.
Let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room, the graphics quality. This game looks pretty bad, even for a game released in 2009. The main issue is that Dragon Age: Origins was in development for close to six years. It’s in a similar scenario as Duke Nukem Forever where the long development process led to out of date graphic quality. At first glance Dragon Age: Origins isn’t necessarily a pretty game and I think that’s part of why it’s not renowned for its replay ability for casual fans. I’ve recently come back to DAO and I won’t lie it’s a little jarring, especially in comparison to newer games like Red Dead Redemption 2. However, I believe the game makes up for the lackluster graphics with a deep engrossing story and a fully developed world with a rich lore.
The combat however is quite different than most RPG’s. The game takes an MMO type of approach, where you select then enemy you want to attack and it auto attacks while you use special abilities specific to your class and subclasses.
Now, I know what you’re saying. “I don’t like MMO’s if I did, I wouldn’t read an article on a decade old game just to find a quality RPG”. You’re 100% correct, but let me tell you a secret. The combat isn’t what makes the game fun. Gasp! The game makes up for its lack of engaging combat with about everything else besides the graphics.
Dragon Age: Origins is a game that wraps its self in the grossest carpet it can find and throws itself into a pallet of browns, deep reds, and ashy yellow.
It’s a game that when looking at from the outside looks like any generic RPG from the mid to late 2000’s.
What we don’t see however is what’s wrapped in that carpet, a beautifully developed world with characters you’ll grow to love and villains you’ll loath. A world full of stories and the fantastical. A world with a name. Dragon Age.