I’ve always been picky with western fantasy. Obviously I adore The Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones, most people do, but when it comes to this genre of fantasy in the realm of gaming, I often find myself struggling to become invested. Even with CDPR’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I had to hack away at the cavalcade of monsters and quests a few times before I finally sunk into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia.
In the end, I fell in love with the game, but it wasn’t easy. Such struggles bring me onto Dragon Age, a franchise that time and time again I have tried my best to jump into, yet something keeps gently pushing me away just as its claws are poised to sink in. The daunting nature of such a universe doesn’t make this task an easy one, with oodles of existing characters and lore required to enjoy Dragon Age Inquisition to its full extent.
I could try my luck with Dragon Age Origins or its polarizing sequel, but even those don’t hold the level of appeal I’d expect from a sprawling fantasy RPG. I think I’m just weird, and without the nostalgia of playing such epic tales as a teenager, the temptation to hop into them this far into adulthood just isn’t there. But I think that’s okay, since it isn’t to everyone’s taste, and there’s a wider lesson to be learned about accepting that some things are wonderful, but they just won’t always be for you.
Mass Effect is also partially to blame I think. The first game was a formative experience to me, one of the first RPGs I played that wasn’t Japanese, and it helped to define everything I’ve touched since. The luscious space opera trilogy was crammed with intricate characters, fleshed out worlds, and an obscene amount of gorgeous detail. In comparison, I just saw Dragon Age as relatively bland. I’ve never been one for swords and sorcery unless it puts a spin on the usual archetypes, which I’m sure Dragon Age does, I just never got that far.
Having been brought up on the likes of Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, and other JRPGs – I feel my perception on western fantasy was warped from the start. Melodramatic anime boys did much more for me than grumpy dwarves and elves that apparently turn out to be evil. I didn’t consider how such titles would influence my tastes in the years to come, and it’s fascinating to look back and what games I did and didn’t play as a teenager when trying to fill in the gaps of my gaming knowledge.
As someone who works in the world of games, it can be very easy to feel like you need to play every single big release under the sun. For a while I did, worried I’d miss out on a crucial discussion or a hidden classic my peers were busy fawning over. In recent months, I’ve managed to shake that attitude, and when I didn’t, it resulted in a newfound love for games like Final Fantasy 14 and Hades. I don’t regret those decisions, but I feel better about myself by taking things slow, and delving into games at my own pace.
Dragon Age is excellent, and I love watching my friends and colleagues gush over the brilliance of its characters and the deep, groundbreaking nature of its narrative. It all has absolutely gone over my head, but their smiles are more enough to let me know that this franchise really is something special. Perhaps I’ll give Dragon Age 4 a shot, and figure out why that bald elf dude is up to no good.
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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously Gaming Editor over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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