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Dragon Age (Series) Review

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Posted: 2 weeks ago.

Author: Ben Kendall and @GeekDadGamer.

OverviewOverview

The Dragon Age series are narrative-driven role playing games with an emphasis on combat and player choices. You play the hero in the medieval fantasy world of Thedas, exploring the world and using your power to stop the impending darkness spread across the land. They are unusual for the scale and scope of the world, amount of choice and character development offered to the player and the depth of its lore and world building.

In many ways inspired by middle ages Europe and its folklore, it offers a chance to inhabit a fantastical world and play through challenging combat scenarios, all while making meaningful in-game decisions that shape the course of your story, interactions and even the ending.

There have been three games in the main series, which released on consoles and PC:
  • Dragon Age: Origins (2009) PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360
  • Dragon Age II (2010) PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

In each game, you choose from different classes of characters and level up your skills by interacting with characters you meet to take on combat and mission which offer upgrades to your character.

The first game was more conversation based, while its sequels introduced a greater emphasis on real time combat. This requires a significant level of strategy when deciding how best to approach the threat, depending on your particular character's skill set.

When you are in conversation with other citizens of Thedas, you can choose from a variety of responses. Get this right and characters you meet can join your party. Get this wrong and you can find yourself with a new enemy. Each person's opinion of you is affected by your dialogue choices and actions, meaning no two play-throughs are the same. Depending on your choices, some characters may be allies or obstacles.

In the first game, you are recruited into the Grey Wardens, an order that is standing against monsters called Darkspawn. You are tasked with defeating the archdemon controlling the hordes and ending the siege. In the second game you play Hawke, a refugee living in Kirkwall who rises to become Kirkwall's ruler, making allies and enemies along the way. The third game puts you in control of the Inquisitor, who survived a cataclysmic event that tore the sky open, unleashing demons upon Thedas. You must rise to the head of the Inquisition and defeat an ancient darkspawn intent on becoming a God Emperor.

While the plot of each of these games differ, gameplay is consistent throughout the series. You take on the classic tale of a heroes journey; rising from nothing to defeat the darkness in the time of greatest need, as well as core themes of good vs evil, duty and responsibility.

There have also been several spin-offs and tie-in games:
  • Dragon Age: Journeys (2009) Web Browser
  • Dragon Age Legends (2011) Web Browser
  • Heroes of Dragon Age (2013) Android, iOS
  • Dragon Age: The Last Court (2014) Web Browser

DetailsGame Details

Rating:

Release Date: 03/11/2009, updated in 2014

Platforms: Android, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Web Browser, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting, Narrative and Role-Playing

Developer: @Bioware

CommitmentCommitment

Duration: This game will take between 30 hours and 75 hours to complete. The myriad side quests and extra details in the games allow you to spend many hours away from the main plot, greatly increasing the game's length and letting you play for over an hour at a time. If you've not had as much experience in the genre, you may also find some areas take longer to beat.
 
Players: This is a single player game. You can play with up to 4 players online. Dragon Age: Inquisition is the first and currently only game in the series to support four player online co-op. However, this only offers a side-game where each team member is given a specific objective to complete.

CostsCosts

Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.  

You will need PlayStation Plus to play online with PlayStation 3.
 
You will need Xbox Live Gold (must be 18 to create, then configure family accounts for younger players) to play online with Xbox One.
 
You will need Xbox Live Gold to play online with Xbox 360.
 
You will need PlayStation Plus (must be 18 to create, then create sub-accounts for younger players who need be set as 13 or older) to play online with PlayStation 4. Dragon Age: Inquisition contains an in-game currency called "Platinum", which can be used to purchase items that can help you, specifically in multiplayer.

The first game, Dragon Age: Origins, has an add-on that can be purchased and costs £10. It acts as a prequel to the main game and has a new storyline and plot to follow. You can also purchase the game and the extra content in one version: The Ultimate Edition, which costs £25.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Rated PEGI 18 for Violence and Bad Language. The game is set in a fantasy medieval environment and involves the use of weapons commensurate with the period and includes, but not limited to swords, single and double headed battle axes, bow and arrows, large sledgehammers and cross bows. Characters, such as Mages, utilise energy type weapons which emit electrical discharges.

In combat against an enemy character, each blow or arrow strike will cause a large splash blood effect. In a melee this will seen repeatedly. The strongest and most graphic violence is seen in the game cinematic sections. For example, there is a close up view of a female character who has a knife placed against her throat and it is then drawn across her throat, causing a gaping wound and a torrent of blood emerges, this is accompanied by the sounds of gurgling from the victim.

Rated ESRB MATURE 17+ for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content and Strong Language. Characters use swords, axes, hammers, and magic attacks to kill fantastical creatures (e.g., demons, monsters, dwarfs) and humans in melee-style combat. Cutscenes sometimes depict characters impaled or getting their throats slit. Violent sequences are often highlighted by cries of pain, gurgling/gushing sounds, and large blood-splatter effects; blood remains on the ground in several environments. The game includes some sexual material: a female character briefly depicted in front of a man's torso; characters depicted topless or with exposed buttocks while lying in bed or after sex and some dialogue referencing sex/sexuality.


Users Interact: The game enables players to interact and communicate with each other, so may expose players to language usually associated with older rated games.

AccessibilityAccessibility

When you adjust the difficulty, which you can do at any time, you primarily change the intelligence of your opponents, not the amount of damage you deal. You can also pause the combat at any time and use the "tactical camera" to get a clearer picture of the threat, as well as give yourself a moment to think.

Although all the dialogue is voiced, the menus and other information is not. Although some of the text is backdropped by a contrasting colour, much of it is overlayed directly over the gameplay, meaning at times it can be quite hard to read, as well as being quite small at times. All dialogue is voiced, and you can select how much is subtitled, from just the main dialogue to background chatter, and it clearly indicates who is speaking.

You can remap any of the game's functions to any key or button on PC, and to any button on a controller.

You can turn off blood and dismemberment by deselecting the 'Enable Persistent Gore' option in the settings.

Difficulty

How you can adjust the challenge of play, and assistance the game offers when you fail or get stuck.

Select Difficulty: Select difficulty from a range of presets.

Adjustable Anytime: You can adjust the difficulty while playing.

Adjust Speed: Adjust the overall speed of the game, or rewind play for a second attempt, to ease reaction times.

Assistance

View Control Mapping: You can view a map of controls during play.

Assistance With Direction: Indication of where to go next with arrows, cookie trail and the like.

View Game Map: View a map of the game world during play, with points of interest and missions highlighted throughout entire game.

Tutorials: There are helpful tutorials, instructions and tips.

Reading

How much reading or listening comprehension is required, and how accessible this is.

Moderate Reading: Moderate reading required.

Subtitles

Large Clear Subtitles: Subtitles are large and clear, or can be adjusted to be.

Any spoken content has subtitles: All spoken content has subtitles, or there is no speech in the game.

All Dialogue is Voiced: All of the game dialogue and narrative can be voiced.

Controls

How you control the game, different options for alternative inputs and whether you can remap these settings to suit your needs.

Multiple Buttons & Two Sticks: Can play with multiple buttons and two sticks.

Mouse and Controller: Can play with mouse and controller simultaneously.

Motion Controls Not Required: You don’t need motion controls to play the game.

Remap Controls

You can customise the controls for the game as follows:

Remap Buttons: Re-map all buttons/keys.

Remap One Action to Multiple Buttons: Map multiple buttons to a single action.

Image

How you can adjust the visuals to suit your needs, and offer additional information if you can't hear the game.

Outline Interactive Elements: Characters, platforms and enemies can be outlined for visibility.

Violence

Turn Off Blood: Reduce or disable graphic content of blood and gore.

Turn Off Dismemberment: Disable graphic depiction of dismembered bodies and corpses.

Communication

How you can communicate with other players in the game and what options are available to customise and control this interaction.

Voice Chat: Chat to other players by speaking with headset.

System Settings

Android has accessibility settings including ways to navigate and interact, although not all games support this. Windows has extensive accessibility features. Some, like colour correction, work with games. Lots of accessibility software can be used with PC games, from voice recognition to input device emulators. PlayStation 4 has a range of accessibility settings. Some are system only, some work in games (invert colours and button mapping). Xbox One has a system features, the excellent co-pilot share controls mode and adaptive controller support for all games. iOS has a very extensive suite of accessibility settings including ways to navigate with voice and comprehensive screen reading, though most of the features don't work with games... read more about system accessibility settings.

Supported by PlayabilityInitiative and accessibility contributors: Ben Kendall



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The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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