I am lucky I live in a house of gamers. Why? Because this week any writing for NaNoWriMo would have ground to a complete standstill if I did not have to share my console. On Friday the 21st November Dragon Age Inquisition was released in Europe, and this is the game which is distracting me from my NaNo project. You might be wondering why I am bringing up a video game on a blog that is about writing and reading, and the reason is this; this blog is also about stories, and Dragon Age has more than enough story to keep the most avid readers happy.
Readers have a great appreciation for stories and story telling, and this is why I am such a big advocate of them turning their hands to gaming. I have written previously about video games that I think book lovers will enjoy but I think there is something really special about the Dragon Age series (Inquisition is the third instalment) which will appeal to readers. In this post I am aiming to convince you to explore this wonderful world, and maybe win some new fans for one of my favourite ever fantasy franchises.
1. Dragon Age takes place in a world which is both familiar, and something new and exciting:
Dragon Age is a game which can be said to be firmly nestled in the fantasy genre. There are dwarfs who live underground; they are crafty business people who are trying to reclaim their heritage underground, and forge new identities in the world above. There are humans, who are doing what humans do best, building cities, fighting, getting underfoot and generally being a nuisance everywhere. There is magic, dragons, orc like bad guys (the Darkspawn), rolling hills, creepy caves, deserts. oceans and pet war dogs who you can name Buttercup.
But before you think this was just lifted from Lord of the Rings, guess again. The obligatory elves live in the world, but they are not considered to be reverential, beautiful people; rather they are ghettoised, shunned and looked-down upon. There are also other races such as the Qunari, tall and strong they are considered great warriors who are to be feared and despised. Oh and something that is very un-Tolkien like, there are women everywhere in Dragon Age, in the army, in the government, at the head of the main religion and so on.
For these reasons I think the Dragon Age world has set itself apart from others in the fantasy genre, and has something new and unique to offer fans and newcomers alike.
2. You create the main character and you shape the world:
Have you ever wanted to jump into the pages of a book you are reading, pick up a sword and start fighting alongside the characters? Now you can! You design your own character, from their background to their looks. You are also in control of how they interact with the world. As you explore the world you have conversations with people where you choose what to say, and how you say it. You make decisions about the actions of your party for example if to fight, sneak in by stealth, or try to influence through conversation.
Best of all you get to build relationships with characters in the game. Through the time that you spend together, both in camp, completing quests and just running about, you learn all about your companions, their personalities and their histories. You can then, based on your conversation choices, grow friendships or rivalries. This can result in romance, (yes you can date fellow characters) or abandonment. These conversations are wonderfully entertaining and is something that Bioware (the development company) does really well. Also thanks to Bioware listening to their fans, many companions can be potentially romanced regardless of the gender of your character.
Through this you shape the world, making decisions great and small which will mean that your world is unlike anyone else’s. You can save the world your way! Even better if you play the games in order, your story can move with you, so the choices you made impact the world of each subsequent game. So now you can have your story and shape it too.
3. The writing, and reading, is amazing:
Games need scripts and all of the Dragon Age instalments have excellent ones. The writing is wickedly funny whether in conversations that you are having with other characters, or just the things you overhear as you are galavanting around on your adventures. There is flirting, fighting, threatening, gossip, innuendo and sympathy. While the world is a marvellous place to explore, the writing really brings the people, and spirits, who inhabit it alive and memorable. You will find yourself dashing about chatting to everyone and generally poking your noise into every characters business. Fantastic stuff!
If that was not enough the team of writers have put masses of energy into the lore of the world of the game, Thedas. As you adventure you will come across notes, books, scrolls and monuments which detail the history of Thedas, the gods, the races and rituals. The sheer volume of lore available to read and enjoy should appeal to any fan of fantasy or myth and legends. Sometimes I think that I read more while playing than if I were to sit down with a book.
4. You can set the game to emphasise the story elements:
If you are worried that you are not usually a gamer and that you will have to do a lot of fighting etc. don’t worry, Bioware has you covered. In the game there is a “casual” mode which tones down the difficulty of the fighting and allows you to focus on enjoying the story. The game can also auto-select tactics for your party members so they will fight alongside you without you having to set each one manually.
There are also plenty of non-combat related tasks which you are undertake. Creating potions, bombs, salves and traps are options, as are crafting, enchantments, and developing lock-picking skills. So much you can do, so it is up to you what you would like to focus on.
But if you find you are enjoying the fighting and the tactics you can ratchet up the difficulty to normal, hard or nightmare modes.
So have I convinced you to give Dragon Age a go? Or are you already a fan? It is difficult to put into words how great this game is as it is such a captivating game. Please note that this series does have an 18s rating and is not suitable for younger children or teens.
Oh and if you do leave a comment make sure it is spoiler free!