I got my copy of Dragon Age in the mail late last week, and I’ve been having a good time playing through it. I haven’t had a chance to finish the game, but I’m having a blast, and thought I’d share my impressions.
The game is a fantasy roleplaying game- knights, mages, elves, dwarves, horrible evil on the horizon, etc. I was immediately put in mind of Neverwinter Nights and Oblivion, and given that it’s Bioware, there are also some gameplay parallels to Jade Empire and Mass Effect. If you liked those kinds of games, you’re Dragon Age’s target audience, and chances are you’ll like it. If you didn’t, chances are you aren’t and won’t.
The combat is real-time, top down, and involves your party of four people up against hordes of enemies. You can easily switch between your characters, though I found keeping all my party’s abilities straight a little tough and focusing only on commanding my main character. The AI on the other characters seems fairly straightforward, and the Tactics system (very similar to FF XII’s Gambits, though your characters seem to be a little smarter when there’s no relevant Gambit/Tactic) allows you to customize certain behaviors. For example, I have it set up so my party tank automatically uses a healing potion when reduced to under 25% health, and my spellcaster automatically casts healing spells when party members are below 75% health.
Interaction with NPCs is a major part of the game. The conversation trees seem to be much more detailed than similar games, often with many different results. However, you can’t skip over NPC dialogue and just quickly read the text (or if there is a way, I haven’t found it yet)- this is a little annoying now, but I suspect it will get even more annoying in subsequent playthroughs. However, like previous Bioshock games, there are often big decisions in the dialogues.
The storyline so far seems ripe with variety and tough choices. For example, in my prologue (one of 6) as a poor elven rogue, I started on my wedding day, when the human lord sweeps in and decides to borrow several elven women for the entertainment of himself and his men. You end up storming the keep to rescue your fiancee, (or if you’re playing a female character)- cutting a bloody swath out of the keep. The events end with a very tough call on how to handle the situation which I won’t spoil here, but made me seriously take pause. There’s a lot of replay value here in seeing how various choices turn out.
That’s it for now! I’m having a blast- lots of fun (and tough!) interactions, and great dungeon environments to hack through.