Dragon Age: Origins is a dark fantasy RPG developed by BioWare and published by EA. You play as a powerful Grey Warden with an origin story as a human, elf, or dwarf of various backgrounds. The gameplay features choice-based dialogue with classic CRPG mechanics.
Pro Well-implemented tactical combat with unique playstyles
The combat gameplay is great, featuring various playstyles and a key way for you to control the flow of battle.
The different battle classes -- warrior, mage, and rogue -- have branching specializations with unique abilities. Going with a templar that branches off from the warrior class gives you an edge over enemies who use magic, while duelist rogues have more speed to strike quickly and dodge the most hits. You can also pause the game to bring up a radial menu to pick which abilities to use and specific enemies to target, meaning you can take your time in battle and not get overwhelmed by everything.
Mastering your class specialization and using the radial menu to your advantage gives the combat a lot of strategic depth.
Pro Your choices can give you vastly different playthroughs
The choices you make affect the gameplay and plot, opening things up for very different playthroughs.
Right from the start, you pick which race and combat class you want for your protagonist -- human, elf, or dwarf -- each with their own playable origin prologue, such as a human mage with noble blood or a dwarf warrior part of the working class. Which origin you pick also has a big impact on how your companions and NPCs react to you, such as people respecting you more if you're a noble or looking down on you if you're an elf.
Once you become a Grey Warden, the choices you make during the story segments determine who will join you for the final battle. You can side with the people whom you know will provide the most support in the finale against the darkspawn, but these characters might be irredeemable and reprehensible, so you might not want to help them after all. Or there may be other groups or people that you absolutely want to help, yet this comes at a great cost that negatively affects others in the world. It's a balancing act where you have to carefully take everything into consideration.
All in all, your choices give you the chance to experience unique playthroughs, with potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay if you want to see how each outcome plays out.
Pro Great ways to interact with companions
There are interesting ways to get to know your team members in Dragon Age: Origins. Giving them gifts, talking to them at camp, and listening to party banter are all realistic and fun.
You can increase approval with your favorite characters by figuring out what types of gifts to give them, like general trinkets in the shape of a dragon, or more sentimental items with personal meaning to them like a parent's cherished locket. While resting at a camp, you can chat with anyone about what's on their mind, opening up side quests, and possibly triggering romance options.
Party banter is always insightful and entertaining, with characters giving different lines depending on who you bring along. For instance, if two of your party members don't like each other, you can expect them to snipe insults or make more passive-aggressive backtalk depending on their personalities.
Your companions feel like actual people you can interact with and listen to, each with their own preferences and perspectives.
Pro Epic dark fantasy story
The story in Dragon Age: Origins is long and expansive with many different parts that are all fit together by the finale.
As a Grey Warden, you specialize in killing demon-like darkspawn enemies in order to prevent them from taking over the world in a cataclysmic event known as the Blight. Even with the darkspawn threat, there are many other issues across the country of Ferelden, such as the oppression of mages and elves at the hands of humans, and several displaced dwarves who were nearly wiped out during the Blights in the past. There's plenty of political drama as well, with you and your fellow Grey Wardens caught in the middle of a betrayal at the highest level of Ferelden's monarchy. You play a big part in the culmination of the drama with the choices you make, many of which aren't just black and white.
All of these threads come together nicely by the end as you fight against the darkspawn to save the country and all the people that you get to know on your journey.
Con Too easy to fix relationships with companions who dislike you
It's way too easy to smooth things over with disagreeable party members. Your companions can grow to actively dislike you if you pick certain dialogue options with them, or they can judge you harshly for certain story decisions you make. By giving them gifts, you can greatly improve their approval of you as if nothing had ever happened in the first place. None of your relationships with your companions really have any consequences when it's this simple to make them like you again after disagreements.
Con Characters are partially clothed during romance scenes
The romance scenes include characters wearing their undergarments, which ends up looking weird and distracting. Full nudity isn't absolutely necessary, but it just seems off here. Having more creative camera angles to cover things up would have had a better effect without coming off as unrealistic.
Con Silent protagonist even though everyone else has voice acting
It's jarring that your protagonist is the only character in the game who doesn't speak. While everyone else has a voice with their dialogue, it's awkward when you pick your own dialogue options and your character says nothing. When you choose your response, there's a pause between the other person's lines that doesn't quite feel right. It would have been nice if the voice acting were consistent, with voices for everyone or no one, to keep things on the same page.