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Blood doesn't scare me.
Blood doesn't scare me.

After hearing several people comment and rave about how great Dragon Age: Origins has been, Sideshow and I had to check it out.  We seem to be one of the few blogs that weren't offered a review copy, but that's ok.  It was totally worth the cost for us.  Sideshow and I watched some videos and such, and it just looked awesome.  We decided to buy the PC version through Steam.  That seems to have been an excellent choice for us.  (For those interested, they have a demo for character creation.)

I started playing it about a week and a half ago.  And… well, I haven't been able to peel myself away from it long enough to play any other games.  This is making it up into my top faves, for sure.

Let's put it this way: I've played my main character in Dragon Age for 36 hours and have only completed 27% of the game.

It's been quite some time since a single player game has smitten me so.  Aside from The Sims 3 (and previous incarnations), the only other single player game that held my undivided attention for a long stretch of time was Fable II.

For those of you that are Bioware fans, you kinda know what to expect from DA:O.  Not saying I'm not a fan, but I haven't really played their other games.  Sideshow played Mass Effect, which looked pretty interesting.  Sometimes I'd watch him play.  I liked how he could talk to almost anyone and the variety of choices for his interactions.  What turned me off was the FPS-ishness of it.

One of the things I loved about Fable II was the choices you had to make and how they influenced your character: how others perceived you and, in part, what other quests you would complete.  As much as Fable II focused on moral choices, it was not that difficult to figure out what were the “good” and “evil” choices.  It was also pretty easy to redeem yourself in either direction if you wanted.

Enter DA:O

Despite being a gamer for life, there are plenty of gamestyles I either have not played or have no desire to play.  I have not played very many real time strategy (RTS) games.  Or, more accurately I suppose, tactical role-play games.  This took some time for me to get used to.  I'm still putzin' around with setting up command tactics and such, but have learned to utilize the pause feature to check on my party and queue up actions.

I admit it, at first, I was letting it go completely real time and was not pausing it.  Then I'd sorta freak out as health bars dropped and “why the hell are you attacking that while everyone else is attacking this?!” moments.  I did have to swallow my pride a bit and change the difficulty to easy after numerous wipes while trying to clear the tower at Ostagar in order to light the damn beacon.

It's All About The Story

Since my brick wall came so early in the game, I started to get frustrated.  I'd played a good chunk of the day and then started to reconsider my interest.  If I couldn't get past this, how was I going to manage finishing the game?

Well, after talking with Sideshow, the solution became painfully obvious: I needed to drop from normal difficulty to easy.

The key thing I was enjoying up to my brick wall was the story.  I loved talking it up with the NPCs and finding side quests.  I loved exploring.  I can't expect to enjoy a story if I keep bashing my head into a wall, right?

I'm sorry, did we break your concentration?
Is there somewhere to wash this blood off around here?

I felt kinda like a noob going easy mode, but it really made a difference.  Sure, there are fights that go down too easily, but it's letting the story really shine for me.  Besides, the description for easy says it's for those new to this style – and that's me!

I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't played or completed the quests I have.  This is even hard when talking to Sideshow, since we aren't traveling the map in the same order.  He's gone to places and completed quests I have not yet done and vice versa.

Ohhh The Choices

Both of our stories vary based on choices we make.  In DA:O I can't look up the good-evil spectrum to see where I fall like you could in Fable II.  Some of the choices presented (be it conversation or actions) are not clear cut either.  I think it will be very interesting to see how our endings compare.

And I'm already planning to play through with other characters to see the differences…try to purposely do things differently the 2nd (or 3rd) time around.  Right now, I'm just doing what “feels right” for my character and trying to keep that as consistent as possible.

I could free you, kill your or let you rot in that cage.  You better be nice to me...
I could free you, kill your or let you rot in that cage. You better be nice to me...

And let's not forget how choices affect how people react to you and affect what your party members think of you.  You can make friends, enemies, and even indulge in some romance…. Yeah, I'm completely smitten with Alistair.  He's good looking, charming, and has a smexy voice.

Alistair = yum
Alistair = yum

So, if you've been missing me in WoW, Aion, Twitter, or anywhere else on the interwebz…. I'm sorry because I've set up camp in Ferelden.  It's kinda nice this time of year.

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  • Easy difficulty is somehow the way to go. DA:O has a VERY weird difficulty curve, and the difference between Normal and Easy is much bigger somehow than in many other games (from personal experience with DA:O).

  • @Triz – I definitely noticed a difference. I figure I would rather have less challenge in battle since my main interest is the story. Although it is nice that you can switch between difficulties without starting over, which I didn’t realize at first.

  • I was crazy about the old Baldurs Gate games so the difficulty curve doesn’t cause as much pain as it *could* but I do tend to flick the slider between easy and normal pretty regularly, I have to tell you. I don’t really want to say anything in case I inadvertantly spoil something for you so I guess I’ll just say I loved the post, and I’m loving Dragon Age as well. I love the detail they put in the NPCs – I don’t know how it happened, but somehow over the course of not much playtime I found myself caring deeply for pretty much everybody.

    Except Zevran. He annoys me more than words can say, and I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. But thankfully, in a rare break from my normal practices, I’m playing a female character so I get to cosy up with Alistair.

  • @Tam – Yes! The level of detail is really quite amazing, in my opinion. I love the chatter between party members too. Zevran is kind there’s no way he’s being allowed inside my tent! Now if only Alistair would feel “ready” I’d be a happy woman. 😉


We are a family of gamers. Mom (Darcy/Syrana) and Dad (Brian/Sideshow) have been gaming for as long as they can remember back when you only had a joystick to use and saved your games to cassette tapes.

They've been gaming together since they met in 2002. Sometime after 2006, they both started playing World of Warcraft and did that for many years. They started this blog, originally called Sideshow & Syrana which has now transitioned to the new Stay-At-Home Gamers site, while keeping all of the original content.

Starting in 2010, two more gamers came along (now known as Princess Boo and Mr. X) and they are now old enough where they both enjoy playing games and watching others play games. They are both excited to have others to watch them play their favorite games. Come along with us and let's enjoy these games together!