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Game Play | Dragon Age: Origins | The Origin

This is how it all begins...

Apologies for being a day late with this post, but insomnia can make your head and eyes not work that great and unfortunately that's what happened to me. Regardless, it's time to get this show on the road with the origin of the human female warrior I'll be playing as.

The whole thing actually starts off with Duncan, the Grey Warden in the silver armour up top narrating the origins of the Darkspawn, who'll provide your most regular opponents, and the Grey Wardens themselves, who are the only people capable of stopping Darkspawn invasions, known as 'Blights'.

We also learn that it has been four centuries since the last Blight, which goes a long way towards explaining why so many people are reluctant to help to begin with, and why Ferelden, the game's setting, is so unprepared for it.

Actually onto the gameplay, and I chose to accept the default name of Elissa for my character as i thought it didn't sound too shabby. Talents are easy to assign at this early stage for me too, just selecting everything in the sword and shield category.

Elissa's story begins by meeting her father and his guest, Arl Howe - who goes on to much 'greater' things and is part of why this particular origin appealed to me the most, but I'll explain more later when it's needed.

Bryce Cousland, Elissa's father, and Howe are set to head off to Ostagar along with her brother, Fergus, where they will join forces with King Cailan in an attempt to defeat the Darkspawn before a Blight can truly get underway - although Howe's men are late in arriving.

Elissa is going to be left in charge of Highever, her family's home, while the men are away and isn't too happy about that fact - amusing Howe and irritating her father, who wants her to just go and get her brother so they can prepare to leave.

It's at this point when Duncan arrives, intending to recruit Gilmore, one of Bryce's top warriors, into the Grey Wardens, noting that Elissa herself would also prove a useful recruit. Elissa is intrigued at the idea, but her father sends her away before anything can come of it.

A quick couple of notes here that will be relevant later: 1) Highever is situated in Amaranthine, where Dragon Age: Awakening is set, and 2) the Couslands inherited the place from the Elstans after Conobar was killed by his wife, Flemeth - remember that last name in particular.

Elissa runs into Gilmore almost immediately, who has been sent to find her so she can get her Mabari hound - named "Dog", because I really couldn't be bothered with names apparently - out of the kitchen, where he's apparently causing chaos.

The pair head off and find that Dog has actually found a large number of giant rats, which they quickly kill, bringing Dog with them. They do a circuit of Highever - which I had apparently never done before as I found two scenes I had never seen - before running into Elissa's mother.

Eleanor is entertaining a guest, Lady Landra, who has brought her son, Dairren, to Highever, along with an elven lady-in-waiting, Iona. The two older women attempt to match-make for Elissa and Dairren, who apologises for their actions although doesn't seem too unhappy at the idea.

Elissa is the mistress of her own destiny though, tracking the pair down to the study after speaking with her mother, and arranges for Iona to spend the night with her instead; something the elf is more than happy to go along with.

Her plans for the night made, Elissa tracks down her brother and they are soon joined by their parents for a family farewell, although Bryce and Fergus annoy Eleanor and Oriana - Fergus' wife - with their 'laddish' humour and confusing Oren, Fergus' son.

Night then falls, and it's here when the nudity provided by a mod actually feels like an improvement over the original content. First off, when Elissa and Iona are woken up by the sound of fighting and are both naked, it's far more believable that the pair had sex rather than just literally sleeping together.

Secondly, it provides a sense of urgency, as neither of them have time to dress before the door is slammed open and soldiers - Howe's men - burst in, killing Iona. It also makes the elf's death feel more tragic, as not even her modesty was spared in her sudden demise.

Thirdly, while it doesn't really work from an in-game point of view as your naked character throws punches at armed and armoured opponents, I just imagine this being a medieval version of the bath-house fight from the movie Eastern Promises, which makes me smile - except this time it's an athletic young woman and not an older, tattooed Viggo Mortensen.

Seeing off her opponents, Elissa dresses and finds her mother, who was also quite the fighter in her day, and the pair battle through Highever and swarms of soldiers with the help of Dog, discovering that Oriana, Oren and Landra have already been killed - although they never spot Dairren, and Fergus has already left for Ostagar and is unaware of anything happening.

Eventually, they make their way to a secret exit in the kitchens, where they find Bryce lying in wait in a pool of his own blood, dying from his injuries. Duncan then shows up and reveals that it was he who saved Bryce and brought him here to wait for his family, earning Eleanor's respect after initially thinking the Grey Warden was working with Howe to attack them.

Bryce demands that Duncan saves his daughter, but the Grey Warden agrees only if she joins the Grey Wardens, and Elissa eagerly accepts. Eleanor stays with her husband to defend him until their dying breaths (truly 'till death do us part') as Duncan and Elissa escape, heading to Ostagar.

It's a really great start to the game, and very Game of Thrones in style, with sex and betrayal in the face of a larger looming threat really sticking out. Playing through it again reminded me of just how much this origin really does tie in to future events and made me even more glad that I'd decided to go this way.



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