I love the Dragon Age franchise. My first experience with it came in the form of Felicia Day’s tie-in web series, Dragon Age: Redemption. After that, I had to try Dragon Age: Origins. And it was amazing. Since then, I’ve been waiting to get a decent enough chunk of free time to play the sequel, Dragon Age 2.
Let’s start with the thing everyone knows I care about more than anything: characters. I love the characterization in Dragon Age 2. As per usual, you can choose to make your characters act in different ways, and the other characters around you will react differently depending on that. Some of the standouts that I got to know from my playthough include:
Merrill: She’s so adorable, and that makes it even better that she’s the blood mage in the party. You wouldn’t expect a quirky, innocent-seeming girl like Merrill to evoke the kind of responses she gets–there’s a few lines of dialogue in the story where Merrill is hurt that her own people act like she’s some kind of monster, to which one of other companions retorts that she is a monster. But she’s so charismatic and I couldn’t help but be taken in by her character. I tend to want to support my companions, and it’s good that Dragon Age points out to me that this isn’t always the way to go–just because I like them doesn’t mean they’re doing the right thing.
Anders: He can be a huge headache, with the way that he doesn’t always understand what’s actually going on around him–and that’s before things get really bad. But he’s introduced as someone who really wants to help people, and who really believes in his cause. Ironically, his kindness is part of what leads him to his greatest mistake, and allows him to change in a way that isn’t for the best. Very interesting character journey, painful as it might be.
Fenris: Speaking of someone who doesn’t always understand what’s going on around him… Fenris is an escaped slave and incredibly prejudiced against mages. That he has a point about their potential danger (and is willing to make individual exceptions for good people) doesn’t change the hypocrisy of his stance. But it’s a believable one for someone who’s been through what he’s been through, and actually more mature than might be expected for someone of his experiences. Still, he’s got a lot of problems to get past. If he can.
Varric is incredibly fun in the way he jokes around and teases everyone. I’m also pretty impressed with how he gets along with pretty much everyone. Aveline is all ‘duty before reason’, though she’s certainly got her own quirks. Isabela is sailor with a cheerful and open disposition on life. It’s especially interesting to see her eventually get along with the far more uptight Aveline.
The story is less epic and less focused than that of Origins. Still, I really enjoy the complexity, and the way that the right thing to do isn’t always clear, easy, or simple. I love my mages, but this game is hell bent on showing why people are so afraid of them. And I do enjoy that things aren’t clear cut. People have good reasons for doing the wrong things, and falling into the positions they do are very human weaknesses.
This game was definitely shorter than Origins. I still loved it, but I know a lot of people had some valid complaints. The dialogue wheel for instance–instead of showing us the options for what the character would actually say so we could click on it, we were shown something closer to the thought that lead to what the character was saying. If that makes any sense. This meant that the meaning of what we actually chose to say might not have been what we thought it would be before we committed. Bioware, I love you, but I can read.
Another issue was that all the caves pretty much looked the same. As in, exactly the same. And they were supposed to be different caves. Also, Anders cannot be left unsupervised in battle. Everyone else is okay, but he will do the dumbest things if left on his own.
I wouldn’t say that anything seriously detracted my enjoyment of the game, but there were a few ‘come on’ moments. Still, overall, it was fantastic, and everything else is a quibble. Can’t wait for Dragon Age 3, though that is a long time coming.