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Dragon Age Day#3: Let’s Have a Party

Day 3 gets me my party finally, and it’s not really a good thing. The banter is actually driving me crazy. I actually start adventuring for reals today and play a pretty long session, but it’s really just more of the same. The game is alternately finicky and simplistic. The combat is pure grind to me. The narrative is trying quite hard, but it’s too stuck to fantasy roots. I do a bunch of side quests and meet a bunch of people, but none of it is earth-shattering. I know these summaries are getting redundant, but that’s what the game is — redundant of other games in terms of theme and endlessly repetitive in its mechanic. Spoilers within.

My restart has a nice touch. The title card recaps where I left off exactly — the text reminds me that I just finished the ritual of Joining and need to go see the king. That’s actually a quite good way of keeping me up-to-date on where I was. Well done, Bioware.

So, back in the ruins, looking for the King. The map of these ruins is almost impossible to read; the way they depict walls and texture are too similar, and it is really hard to tell the difference of what’s an ornament and what’s a barrier. I eventually visit king, and I get to witness another CS fight, this time between the King and some other soldier guy.  There’s something about some other nation that has reinforcements for the army, but that also used to conquer these people. The King wants to fight with gray wardens rather than wait for army reinforcements. They worry about an arch-demon appearing, and it turns out that arch-demons are dragons, but there’s no sign of it. I was waiting for dragons to make their inevitable appearance. I suppose I shouldn’t pick on it — it’s the title after all. There’s more detail here, but the characters are oh SO CREEPY that I get distracted. Sorry to repeat myself here, but it does shock me every single session.

Anyway, the King orders Alister and I to go to a tower in order to light the beacon which will signal the rest of the army to back up the Gray Wardens. To do so, we have to cross the gorge and go across the square, a task made difficult by the confusing map. Along the way I get a CS view of the gray warden army, which is impressive despite the creepy characters. It’s a classic but pretty epic army scene: human soldiers ready themselves nervously, mist comes over land and darkspawn (orcs basically) appear, darkspaawn army charges, human archers fire, hounds go out, army charges, massive fight ensues. I get control back and run across bridge with explosions knocking me down. When I get across, I get CS told the tower was taken by darkspawn.  The two soldiers who told me this join me in the fight to the tower, and we kill many darkspawn as we head over there.

We enter the tower and more fighting ensues.  The first fight has a trap that goes off at the beginning, and it goes very strangely after that. I die once with no idea what happened, and then again with no idea where my guys are. The third time I win even though I don’t do anything differently. More fighting on my way up the tower, including fight with a ballista cut piece I miss until all the enemies are dead. I would get into more detail, but these things blur into each other. Rest assured I hit a bunch of buttons, watched my allies run around, and collected a bunch of stuff without even looking at what I was picking up. Eventually, I make it to the top of the tower and click A in front of the beacon to light it.

That triggers a CS of the soldier who was arguing with the King leading the reinforcement army. He orders them to retreat, even though the beacon is lit. It’s not totally clear what happened; why did he leave?  The CS cuts to the gray warden battle. The King killed in fight with a big demon. Duncan then kills said big demon, and as the gray wardens are wiped out around him,  Duncan too killed. There’s a quick cut back to the top of the tower where I’m hit by like three arrows as darkspawn rush in. We have thoroughly lost.

I come to in a hut. Turns out I was saved by the witches. The daughter witch (named Morrigan) tells me that her mother rescued me, and that Alister was also saved.  She doesn’t know why we were saved, but she does make a snide remark about a ransom (nice girl). I leave the room to find Alister and the mother witch. Alister is freaked out that gray wardens are all dead. The mother explains that she saved us to fight the darkspawn.  We have to assemble a new army, and we realize that the treaties mean we can call upon a bunch of the different peoples of the land to help us. The mother then tells us that Morrigan has to go with us. She protests but relents. Good god this girl has a creepy model. Anyway, Alister and morrigan don’t like each other, but they are both ready to follow me. Interestingly, when I look at their stats, they also now have heart meters to indicate how much they like me. Let’s see what becomes of that. Alister also tells me the locations of all of the various groups we can meet up with to discuss the treaties. Now a party for reals, we walk to the edge of the hut and head back into the world.

Leaving the hut takes me to a map with a number of locations on it, all corresponding to the places Alister mentioned.  Morrigan mentioned a village to the north of the hut as a first stop, so I click on it to get started.  We quick cut to a CS of traitor guy who had his army abandon the King. He’s arguing for unity under his leadership. Some guy in the audience is against it and accuses him of betraying the King. The traitor stomps off, and there’s a discussion between the guy and traitor’s daughter, where he makes some typical guilt trips on her for not standing up to her father. It ends without resolution.

Post-CS, we cut to a scene on a road where I get my dog. We fight together against some random guys and win. Morrigan and Alister spar over dog, which seems to their primary mode of communication.  I get to name the dog, which is pretty cute. I name it Mossflower after the thing I found that saved its life. I also find a new herb in the field, and decide to figure out how to use that stupid potion making skill I’ve got. Turns out it’s just having the right ingredients.  I make some potions (yawn), and run back to the world map to continue.

The map shows us navigate to the village Indiana-Jones-dotted-line style. When we arrive, we on a bridge to town, where we’re quickly assailed by highwaymen. It’s a pretty cool conversation where I threaten my way out of bandit attack by telling them I’m a mage. Alister and Morrigan periodically talk to each other without warning, and oh this party conversation is annoying — stop with the insulting banter please so that I can get on with the story. When we get to the village,  I have a conversation with them where I ask them both for advice about next steps, but we end up just going into the village for now.

Lots of little encounters in the village. There’s a farmer in town who doesn’t like refugees. There’s a fight between a merchant and a priestess which I resolve with my mad compromising skillz.  Interesting, Morrigan disapproves of me helping these people and her rating for me goes down. I talk to a Templar who tells me nothing other than who the important people are to talk to. Eventually his advice gets me to the temple where I met the Templar boss, Ser Something. He tells us Logain (the King-betraying traitor) told him gray wardens were traitors. He doesn’t believe it, but he can’t really help us.  He advises that we talk to the reverend mother, who’s really in charge. That conversation is basically the same as the one with Ser — she has nothing big to offer but blesses us in exchange for a 10 silver tithe. On the way out of the temple, I meet Sir Donall. He’s one of the knights of another important guy, Aer Something, who is sick. A host of knights is out searching for a mythical cure Donall does quite believe in. Alister and he know each other, and they talk a bit about the Aer guy. As a side-note, I have some kind of armor spell on that makes me look like I’m sweating rocks, and Alister has some effect that makes him look like he’s on fire, which makes conversations between us wonderfully bizarre. Oh, WoW, I guess I have missed some of your quirkiness.

More village subquests: I meet woman who wants traps and I can’t help her. I meet woman who wants herbs and I can help her. I meet a prisoner, who leads me to talk to the mother again about his release. It turns out he killed a family he was staying with, but I persuade her to let me recruit him because he wants to be redeemed, and I do recruit him, basically to get my army bigger. It turns out you can only have four people (or dogs) active at once, and I agree to stick with my current party. I take a mission to kill the bandits, which I do on my way out.  When we kill them, we meet a pair of dwarf merchants who ask to travel with me but then decide not to. I shrug and head back to the map, this time to head to that Aer guy to see what’s up.

When we leave town, we cut to a CS of dragon in mine. It turns out it’s a dream I have while i’m in camp. Alister explains  that all gray wardens dream of the archdemon as it talks to its minions. We can block it out as we get more experienced, but some wardens can understand the dragon. And it turns out the merchants did follow us after all. The CS ends and we go to Radcliff Village on the way to the Aer’s castle.  For this section, I take all the people (Alister, Morrigan, and the prisoner) and leave the dog behind. I get a random conversation with Alister when we arrive in which Alister tells me he is the bastard son of King. Really? Hidden son of the King? How original. I agree to keep it secret,  and we get on with the game.

Anyway, to Radcliffe Village. We meet Tomas who tells us monsters are attacking from the castle where the Aer is sick. We follow him to meet some other guy who’s in charge here. He tells us zombies are coming out of the castle, and asks out help to defeat them. Alister knows this guy too, but Morrigan and the prisoner think this is waste of time. I do a persuade on the prisoner to get him to come along, but both he and Morrigan like me less when I decide to help this guy. That makes no sense to me — the Aer is a big deal and he has a ton of knights. How is this not directly helping our mission? Well, whatever. I’ve played enough tonight. See you later.

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2 Responses

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  1. Douglas Yee says

    Even more bizarre than the conversations you have while weird flaming buffs are active on your character, are the conversations you have while drenched in blood. Those are kind of surreal.

    I’m most of the way through the game. The combat doesn’t get less repetitive unfortunately. It’s basically like a simpler version of WoW where you get to control your entire party. Tank, Healer, DPSers – same deal. I’m still enjoying the story quite a bit, even though it’s mostly a rehash of lots of old fantasy stories.

    I’m particularly reminded of George R.R. Martin. “I’m going to join the Nightwatch. Err, I mean the Grey Wardens. And we’re going to the Wall – I mean Ostgar. And we’re going to fight the Others – I mean, the darkspawn.” Small difference, it seems.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  2. Heath says

    I’ve liked the storyline and gameplay but it is reminiscient of what I would expect from a Bioware title. Very similar to Mass Effect and KOTOR. My only issue is that I RRoDed and now have to wait for my console to be returned before I can continue on my second playthrough.

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