Dragon Age 2 – A World of Gray

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Dragon Age: Origins developed a unique world-in-crisis depicted through the eyes of a newly created Grey Warden that must fight through hell to save the world from the Blight. It’s an epic tale of love and survival, but the underlying tension created in the Dragon Age universe creates a numerous amount of battles between the normal citizens that exist in Ferelden, Orlais, etc., all of which ride on our own morals and beliefs.

Dragon Age 2 is no doubt a shadow beneath DA:O, but the game successfully rips out the disarray of the world by forcing you into relentless squabbles that occur between the co-existing beliefs and standards of the normal person. In my opinion, this helps the world created within Dragon Age lore resonate with the player. And what better way to relate to you as a person than to force you between tense situations that may possibly rest precariously on your own shoulders?

Lessons can be found inside the most twisted storyline, but instead of reveling in the gems and lessons present inside this game, most people turned a blind eye to them and focused on the dark spots (repeated maps, lack of race choices, etc.). There is much to appreciate about Dragon Age 2, and inside all of the chaos that latches onto Kirkwall’s err… walls, there are lessons to be learned.

You notice immediately when you arrive to Kirkwall that the popular city-state is overwhelmed by the poor and homeless, and you find yourself in the same predicament. But poverty is only one of the several issues that have taken root inside of Kirkwall. There’s a war brewing between mages and Templars, and the intimidating Qunari have planted themselves inside the walls, implanting a thick cloud of paranoia throughout Kirkwall’s people.

Immediately, these occurrences force you to plant your feet inside of your beliefs. If you’re a mage, Templars are figures you’re normally determined to avoid, and considering the corruption that soon emerges within the city-state’s walls, you would be wise to keep your identity hidden. But your role as Kirkwall’s Champion introduces you to the darkness that exists inside both sides, and may even make you re-evaluate your loyalty toward other magic users.

And your companions only manage to twist your morals even more, mainly Merrill and Anders, and you often find the two warring against each other when it comes to their own beliefs about magic. Anders is a powerful mage that has been joined with a spirit called Justice, one that he says began as a benevolent spirit. But as things progress between mages and Templars, Anders believes that maybe it is his own anger that has transformed Justice into a spirit of Vengeance.

AndersJustice

Merrill, an elven mage, openly uses the power of blood magic in an attempt to restore the Eluvian, a mirror that was introduced in DA:O (if you played as a Dalish elf). She often speaks of a “spirit” that helps her, but it is later revealed to be a pride demon tempting Merrill to do its own bidding. Merrill comments that “all spirits are dangerous” to Anders, which helps raise an important question: Is all magic, even blood magic that mages condemn, dangerous to its user? Or should practices such as blood magic remain taboo beneath the belief that it is evil?  Is Anders a hypocrite for criticizing Merrill when he, too, can be overcome by Justice? Will I continue to ask questions without answering them? Who knows…

The presence of the Qunari only makes things more complicated. Qunari literally means “People of the Qun” which follow a strict code of honor and are prepared to wage war throughout their entire lives as part of their attempts to “enlighten” all other races in regards to their philosophy. After a storm leaves the Arishok and his Qunari stranded in Kirkwall, they set up their own base in the docks of the city. Eventually, the Arishok cannot ignore the corruption and “disease” of the city and decides to correct it by ordering an attack.

Arishok

“Look at you. Like fat Dathrasi you feed, and feed, and complain only when your meal is interrupted. You do not look up. You do not see that the grass is bare. All you leave in your wake is misery. You are blind; I will make you see!” – Arishok

Fighting the Qunari, choosing between the mages and the Templars, your involvement with your companions, and your ultimate rising as Champion of Kirkwall all relay important lessons.

  1. Not everything is black and white. There is evil present inside both mages and Templars and there is ultimately no way to remedy that fact, just as there is evil present inside everyone else. Everyone can carry selfish and dark intentions. Their standings in society do not define who they are. Corruption can exist anywhere; just as good can exist anywhere.
  2. One person can make a difference inside chaos and despair.

What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “Dragon Age 2 – A World of Gray

  1. I agree that the story had its own merits and it was very well done. However, as an aside, I had an issue with the gameplay. The gameplay was horrible by any means, so don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t like the fact that Bioware traded in the tactical gameplay of Dragon Age: Origins for more action-oriented gameplay in Dragon Age 2. I understand that they were trying to cater to the console crowd the second time around, but where does that leave the PC fans? After a long history of RPGs rooted in the PC market (a la Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), it feels a little like betrayal to have them shift gears towards a different market just because the console audience didn’t receive the first game as well as anticipated.

    Here’s to hoping they find a nice, happy compromise between the different markets on the third time around!

  2. I’ve always been someone that never particularly enjoyed tactical combat systems. That may be because I play on console or because I primarily play as a rogue and I enjoy striking fast, but I really enjoyed the combat system in DA2. However, I understand where you’re coming from. It’ll be interesting to see what changes BioWare makes for the 3rd game. I have high hopes for it!

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