Dragon Age Retrospective

As far as I'm aware, Dragon Age isn't so old a franchise that people have started to forget about it... nevertheless, PopMatters' Mark Filipowich has decided to take a look back at both Origins and Dragon Age II in a retrospective article as a run-up to the upcoming Dragon Age III: Inquisition.
Dragon Age: Origins featured about as pared down a plot as one can get. Once every few centuries, creatures called darkspawn amass and rise from beneath the earth to conquer the surface in what is known as the Blight. Only an order known as the Grey Wardens is able to stop the Blight. The player controls a new Grey Warden recruit and is tasked with stopping the blight. That's it. Ultimately, there is never any question of where the player stands or what they need to do: all paths lead to ending the Blight. It's Tolkien's orcs attacking Middle Earth. But unlike Tolkien's universe, Dragon Age: Origins took place in a world unchecked by fate. Royalty was not always good, usurpers weren't always bad, curses were justified and war was not glorious.


My own feelings on Dragon Age II are best summarized in Kris Ligman's review: (It's fantastic, and it's horrible. It's brilliant, and it's ridiculous. This is the best thing I've ever played. I want my money back.) ((Dragon Age II: Making the Case for (Quality) Games), PopMatters, 21 March 2011). The plot is a disorganized mess even as the world becomes deeper and more complicated. The choices that the player makes have no meaningful consequence but the powerlessness just reemphasizes the thesis of the text. The characters are some of the most human ever written, even while some refuse to be likable or even relatable. The mechanics are more streamlined and accessible than ever, even as they're mired with lazy and obnoxious design choices.
Though perhaps the praise for the franchise here and there is a little high, if you happen to have been living under a rock for the last few years, or haven't already finished discussing the games, this piece will get you up to speed.