Dragon Age (Franchise) Review
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Title: Dragon Age (Note this is a broad review for the series as a whole, not necessarily for each individual game)
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox360, PS4, Xbox One
Where to Purchase: Amazon
Overall: 77/100 77% C+ Good Game For Girls
Concept: 10/10 Dragon Age is one of my favorite “Western” RPG series. It was one of the first western-developed RPGs to feature a branching plot, where decisions you make impact the storyline in a meaningful way. It also had some dating sim type elements and allowed for gender neutral relationships. You could date anyone of any sex, species, race, etc.
Decisions matter a lot in this series, impacting things like if certain characters live or die, which characters will join your party, and which parts of the story you’ll see or which ending you’ll reach.
In Dragon Age Origins (the first game in the series) even your race, or gender, impacted the story, for about the first half of the game, and presented you with a different starting city and starting story. it also determined to a lesser degree how certain characters would act towards you. For example as a female elf, your village is raided by humans and you, your friends, family, and fiancee are kidnapped to be sold as slaves. You must escape and help save everyone. Whereas, if you start the game as a male dwarf, your brothers and you are next in line to become the heir, your brothers are plotting to kill eachother, as well as you, and your father. And as a mage, you begin life in the mage tower, a kind of prison, and also school, to help you harness your abilities.
In later games in this series, regardless of what race, class, gender, etc you pick, you start the games in the same way. In Dragon Age II, you along with your mother and siblings are fleeing the templars, trying to protect your sister who is a mage. In Dragon Age Inquisition, you start the story witnessing a tear in the veil and hearing the voice of the goddess Andraste. This puts you in a position where people think you are some type of divine hero. While others suspect you may have been to blame for the events that killed many on that day.
Storyline: 8/10 Due to the branching plot nature of this game, and the plethora of side quests and optional content, the story that you see largely depends on your own efforts and decisions made while playing. It’s one of those games, where you could play each installment in 30 hours, or spend 100 hours, or more each playthrough. I felt the story telling was good. The main story in the first game revolves around a type of beast race known as the “blight”. They supposedly had invaded the land once before as well, and were vanquished by a hero known as the grey warden. However, the blight is back, and your playable character, becomes unwillingly entangled in the events which lead to them also becoming a warden to take a stand against the blight. There’s a lot of politics and intrigue, especially in later installments of this series, which focus heavily on the battle between the templars and the mages. There’s a good amount of drama, some sad things you can’t change regardless of your decisions and efforts, especially in the 2nd game. (some people have complained that the 2nd game does not allow for the same level of impact of your decisions because of this. But the trade off is that it has a very emotionally engaging story.) The third installment has the most freedom and impact of choices, and number of choices to be made also. The third game starts off extremely slow though. I had a really hard time getting into the third game, and only just recently began to replay it and am starting to enjoy it a bit more now. There’s a good amount of lore, hidden goodies, and detail that goes into all 3 games.
Characters: 10/10 I really super love all of the characters in these games. My favorite is Anders from Dragon Age 2. He’s a mage, living as a recluse, and plagued by demons. He also loves cats, and has a very cute soft side too :). Other interesting characters throughout the franchise include a golem from Dragon Age Origins, A female pirate in Dragon Age II, and lots of other great characters. I don’t want to spoil too much, but they really focus heavily on character backstories, and character interaction in this game(s). Everyone feels very well rounded, they have flaws and quirks, and endearing qualities too. I really love the attention to detail that went into every single character, and there are SO many characters. And none of them feel flat or underdeveloped. That’s quite an impressive feat.
Graphics: 10/10 These games are beautiful. Especially the third, Dragon Age Inquisition. The level of detail, richness of colors, special effects, cinematic scenes,, and animation all look stunning. It’s quite possibly one of the prettiest RPGs of all time. There’s some nice er uhm “eye candy” too, that will make you happy regardless of your gender preferences :).
Gameplay: 9/10 This blends action-rpg real-time battles, with traditional rpg elements such as forging your gear, using skill trees to learn new abilities and spells, and distributing stat points upon leveling up of your characters. Combat is fast and fluid. There are many different difficulty settings. I always play on the lowest setting, because I’m more interested in what happens outside of the combat, and that as I mentioned, is interacting with characters, and making decisions which shape which parts of the story you get to see. There’s also a ton of replay value in each of the games. And all of them are loaded with sidequests and hidden extras.
Music: 5/10 Nothing horrible, nothing memorable either. I can’t really recall any tracks which stuck with me after finishing the game. I also can’t recall any that annoyed me, so therefore, the score must have been just average.
Voice Acting: 7/10 The cast is good. I was kinda put off/bothered by the old-English accents, but I get that it’s a medieval fantasy rpg and a stylistic choice to help create immersion. I just don’t care for their accents myself. I would have preferred more Americanized English. This is totally a personal thing though. I feel their delivery and range of emotion are all quite believable.
Customization: 10/10 I love how you can customize your characters in this game. And if you play on the PC there’s a number of mods which can further enhance the customization also. Not only do you control every facial feature through sliders, and choose hairstyle, and skin tone, you also customize your stats and abilities for combat too.
Replay Value: 8/10 As mentioned, the game(s) offers multiple endings and branching plots, and the first game also made it worthwhile to try playing different races, classes, and genders. However, the sheer size of the game, and amount of effort that would be needed to see all parts of the story, can make multiple replays a chore as well.
Voice Acting 7/10
Replay Value: 8/10