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Tycho / on Wed, Dec 2 2009 at 12:00 am

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Dragon Age Spoilers Ahoy

With the title of the strip as explicit as possible - and this introductory sentence positioned for maximum emphasis - I feel as though we’ve done our duty.  You really should have completed it by now.  I have a mewling, perpetually starving human larvae in my charge, fed via a prosthetic nipple, and I managed to complete it; what’s your excuse?

The strip contains the tale of my ill-use at the hands of a party member, my literal robbery, which struck me as incredibly amusing - something that is only possible in the wooly world of premium expansions and branching narratives.  By the time I’d brought game events to their conclusion, the spine of the thing was visible to me.  Between a full playthrough and my previous research, I’ve played it almost twice now - enough to know what I don’t like.  That isn’t to say I don’t like it; I do.  Just not all of it.

I found it very strange that Elves and Dwarves - though Dwarves more so - had no accent of any kind.  I’m not a proponent of the Universally Scottish Dwarf, and I was happy that he was nowhere to be found, but there wasn’t a lot of texture to these races as a direct result of that.  People just sound like dudes, for the most part, and it’s not a good thing.  If the Elves of the Alienage - an ghetto, in essence - speak as their oppressors do, that doesn’t surprise me.  But the Dalish and the Dwarves of Orzammar are rendered tremendously common by their presentation.  The fiction is rich, but not sufficiently executed in-line.

The Collector’s Edition of The Witcher had occasional localization concerns, certainly, but it has a lot to teach every student of the form when it comes to a truly grey moral environment.  As a game where you play a single character doing battle via a rhythm-based combat scheme, there isn’t much in the way of systemic comparisons to be made - but wrenching decisions and delayed outcomes made for a world that felt considerably less proscribed.

They owe a debt to Lois McMaster Bujold, a big one, and (beware: dork stuff ahead) the existence of an Imperial Chantry makes me suspect they haven’t yet completed their harvest.  I’m glad that we’ve gotten to the point where we’re borrowing from her instead of Tolkien, I call this progress, but they need to do a better job of filing off the serials.  Warcraft and Starcraft both were born of a cannibal hunger for Games Workshop IP, but after more than a decade of canny embellishments (particularly in the rapid iteration venue of WoW) they’re both steady, assured settings with tremendous confidence and substantial headroom.

Dragon Age is in as good a position, or better, to create a place we can long to return to.  Do they know, themselves, what they’ve created?  Sometimes, the game makes me wonder.

(CW)TB out.

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