Another successful game by Bioware that became game of the year, as it happened to Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It develops in a land and a time with a medieval look and feel, and it has so many details that one can just sit there staring at each little thing he/she finds at every step.
As a Role Playing Game you develop your character by choosing paths of good or evil throughout a land called Ferelden. The enemy is the Archdemon, who leads the Darkspawn Army, who are former corrupt mages. First, you create a character by choosing a gender (male or female), then a race (Human, Elf, or Dwarf), next a class (warrior, mage, or rogue), and, finally, an origin (Dalish Elf, Dwarf Commoner, City Elf, Magi, Human Noble, or Dwarf Noble). The class and origin determine how your development will be and how Ferelden’s people will behave with you. After a short story about the origin, all characters go to Ostagar to join the Gray Wardens, who fight the Darkspawn and their increasing Blight. But the Gray Wardens did not know Ferelden is full of corruption and betrayal.
Along the game, you meet other people who join your party and help you against the Blight. Sometimes the first to join is a pet that belongs to your character, a dog of the Mabary Hound species. The first human to join your group is a junior member of the Wardens, Alistair, who was previously a Templar. Another character is Morrigan, a magician who is also the daughter of another magician, Flemmeth. A very useful character is Leliana, who is very skilled with her bow and unlocking chests. There are more, and it is up to you to discover them. In many cases, you must perform specific actions to make a character join you - for example, release them or let them live.
Each character has a counter that goes from -100 to 100, showing the level of approval towards your character. Such counter usually starts at 0 and increases as your character interacts with that other character. His or her approval can be increased according to the possibilities of having a romantic relationship with that character. On the other hand, if the approval drops too low, he or she will surely leave your party. Increasing approval is not only good to improve relationships, but also to get passive benefits that enhance your partners' skills, which are so valuable in combat.
As it usually happens with other role playing games, it is possible to personalize items. First, get a socketed item and some runes of ice, lightning, and fire (there are runes of different levels - for instance, apprentice, journeyman, master, and more), and take everything to the dwarf enchanter in your camp. Besides, by adding some elemental effects, the runes will apply cool-looking effects to the weapons - lightning runes add lightnings to some weapons, which move from side to side; or fire runes that make weapons burn and leave a great-looking glare as they move.
As usual, there are so many items to use, from potions to armors and weapons. It is advisable to wear a torso armor, boots and gauntlets of the same kind, because they give you a passive improvement. Among potions, some will help you recover life and mana (called lyrium), some are explosives, poisons, and others modify attributes. If a character has herbal ability, it is possible to prepare healing and lyrium potions - one starts with the most basic potions, and if you get a recipe for an advanced potion you can create it using the appropriate ingredients. Similarly, a character with a poison or trap skill can create poisons or traps as long as he or she knows the recipe and has the correct ingredients. There is a special kind of item that is labeled as “Gift” - the best use for it is to give it to someone from your party. However, choose carefully which gift is given to whom - for example, “Andraste’s Grace” is a flower most appreciated by Leliana, but not so much by others.
A very interesting feature of this game is the possibility to plan a strategy with several simple tactics. Each character has at least two slot tactics, a number that can be increased by leveling up and acquiring tactic skills. Each tactic has a trigger and an action - first, select a condition as trigger (for example, a partner is being attacked), and then choose an action (such as paralyzing the assailant, drinking a potion, or something else). Tactics can be disabled one by one or, if you wish, all at a time for a certain character. However, they are required to reach the most difficult levels.
This game is incredibly good. It is another great achievement by Bioware. It can offer you many hours of fun, because it will make you wonder what would have happened had you chosen the other alternative, so finishing the game once will surely not be enough. In addition, Dragon Age Origins was chosen Game of the Year 2009 - it is indeed a masterpiece.