My Bioware Dating Sim

April 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Dragon Age, rpg | 14 Comments
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Concept art of Sundermount

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing through Dragon Age 2. I’m a bit of a completionist so I tend to play through every single quest, no matter how ridiculously small. This means I’ve been neglecting every other game I’m remotely interested in.

Anyway I thought I’d take the time out to focus on some of the companions. There may be spoilers ahead.

Merrill

I love, love, love Merrill. She’s the cutest, most adorable companion in the game. She’s played by Eve Myles, who also plays Gwen Cooper in Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off. I could probably rant a little about Torchwood, suffice it to say I like it but it’s no DW. In any case she makes a wonderful Merrill.

She’s constantly making quirky remarks, asking naive questions, making cutesy jokes and giving off a slightly sad vibe. She’s lonely among the elves of the alienage and doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere.

After I’ve bedded her, there is a looming sense of unhappiness. I think the endgame with her is a bit telegraphed, but it is one of the best storylines in the game. It’s all too predictable (and I haven’t finished it so maybe it isn’t) but all the best tragedies are. I suppose that is inevitable, Dragon Age 2 is not turning out to be Happy Fun Magic Time.

Aveline

I’m not a big fan of Aveline. You can’t romance her at all, which is fine, but her storyline is pretty uninteresting. You help her become guard captain, and then she becomes the comic relief. She doesn’t know how to romance Donnic, and when you try to flirt with her, it goes right over her head. While that is pretty funny, it isn’t exactly engrossing.

Fenris

Fenris is a jerk. How dare you talk that way to my Merill! I would say, if these people were real, and Merrill was my betty. Good voice acting, but a substandard storyline and he is a constant negative nancy. I’ve always held sympathy for mages in Dragon Age and Fenris isn’t having any of it.

I’m not really impressed with the fugitive slave vs slave master storyline here. It just feels done to death and not very compelling. There is no moral ambiguity here either. Should I side with the evil slave owner or the righteous slave fugitive? Hmmm difficult question.

Bethany

Bethany. I’m kind of pissed about the Bethany storyline. I realize that many people get Carver, I’m not sure if that is a sex choice, or determined by something else, but I got Bethany and invested a whole lot in her. I brought her everywhere with me, she was the best sister I ever had. Then she dies before Act 2. It’s like a big void in the character selection screen for the rest of the game. Cleverly done by Bioware. Making you remember you lost your own sister for the rest of the game. Bethany was my best damage dealer, then she was gone.

A bit spoiled by Leandra making a big deal out of not taking Bethany with you as well.

Anders

I don’t think I could be more bored with either Anders or Sebastian. There is something so damn gentle about Anders you have to wonder how he can go out and kill stuff. I guess that could be one way to pull in the ladies, but for me it makes his character less bad ass darkspawn killer, more gooey pile of angst.

I didn’t play Awakening, but was expecting to miss out on all kinds of references from his presence there. I haven’t really noticed much, but I assume his kitten fascination isn’t new.

I suppose he isn’t so bad when he’s not obsessively whining about the plight of mages.

That mood swing towards the end of Act 3 is pretty crazy. Again I haven’t finished his storyline but either he’s deceitfully tricking me, or he went from one end of the spectrum with Justice/Vengeance to the absolute other.

Sebastian

Sebastian has a pretty rote storyline. Outcast son wants to take back his kingdom. The only difference here being that he can’t quite make up his mind. For some reason I’m being asked to push this guy in one direction or another, but I definitely do not feel qualified or interested.

Isabella

Which brings me to my two favourite buddies. As with Merrill, I did not remember Isabella from Dragon Age: Origins until I was reminded. In particular I find Merrill hard to recall, a buxom pirate chick that wants to duel you in a bar is much easier to remember.

I suppose I shouldn’t even get started on the buxom problem. What exactly do Bethany and Isabella have strapped to their chests, life preservers?

Isabella is a treat though. In all her interactions with the other companions, her conversations with the player character, whatever is going on, she is entertaining. I thought it was a great touch that whenever I attempted to go to see the Qunari, she immediately left the party. A great clue to later story elements.

In fact I think one of the best points in the game is when she abandons you. I actually got momentarily angry. There was a feeling of loss, or at least as close you can get to it while playing a video game. I know when I audibly exclaim “What the F” I’m either really enjoying a game or really frustrated by it.

Varric

Probably the best voice work in the game comes from Brian Bloom. I’d say that just about the entire game has some of the best voice acting I’ve ever heard, but Varric comes alive with Bloom.

There are a lot of stories in Dragon Age involving family and losing those family members. Hawke may have it the worst certainly, but Varric, Fenris, Sebastian, Aveline, and even Merrill in a way, all suffer from it. For me Varrics loss resonates the most. He lost his brother twice, when he was betrayed by him, and later when his mind was ruined by the artefact. Something Hawke can easily identify with.

He’s a smooth talker too. Which he had to be for the overall story arch. The game is a story Varric is telling the Seeker. If you’re going to hang your hat on that you need a quality actor and a great character.

I suppose what really makes me like Varric though is that he is clever, imaginative, funny, talented and has a soft spot for inanimate objects like Bianca.

Altogether

On the whole I think some of the friendship options could have been more clear. At times it was like playing roulette. I never knew which choice would disappoint which character. Sure Fenris and Anders are easy enough to read, but Varric, Isabella and even Aveline were never a sure thing. Things I chose to please Merrill turned out to have no effect, and things I thought had nothing to do with Isabella had everything to do with her.

Once again though, a Bioware game drew me in. I’m fully enraptured by their Japanese dating sim. I have a few thoughts on combat, not to mention itemization, art, settings, and quests, but for now I’m content to have just gushed about Merrill, Varric and Isabella. Pirate chicks for the win, am I right?

Surprisingly you don't get to see much at all of Thedas in Dragon Age 2

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14 Comments

  1. Not to spoil to much but if you play Mage you get Carver, anything else you get Bethany. There are alternate options to Bethany/Carver dying but you still lose her for almost the entire game regardless.

    I also lost Isabella, but apparently you don’t have to. Or not for long.

    • Yeah i avoided losing her because I also romanced isabella, which prevents losing her.

  2. If you bring Anders along with you, Bethany won’t die.

    Spoiler —

    She becomes a Grey Warden. She reappears during the fight with the Qunari at the end of Act 2, and I’ve heard she comes back as a playable character at the end of Act 3, but I’ve not completed the game yet.

    …I was also pissed about Bethany leaving, though. I have given her all of my best mage gear at the time, which gimped Anders for a while. She is/was one of my favorite companions, so I hated when I lost her.

    • I should specify – Bring Anders with you on the expedition of the Deep Roads.

      • …More specifically, bring both Anders and Bethany. Alright, there needs to be an edit button…

      • Yeah i definitely didn’t like giving up my gear to bethany right before the trip only to have her go. wasn’t expecting to lose anyone that early in the game.

  3. there’s a little change in the story with the choices you make.

    -spoiler-
    hmm never mind. there’s no spoiler here…

    btw, Merrill is adorable as she is stubborn, there’s no way she would believe what other mages keep telling her.

    however I feel Dragon Age II is kind of short. I’ve play through a several times (with several savegames from Origins). But it doesn’t last very long, unlike DA:O.

    • i haven’t gotten the feeling its short. there have been plenty of quests to play through, and i haven’t finished it yet. feels like a normal length for this type of game for me.

  4. I never did like Gwen Cooper. Ianto and his stopwatch were 100% more interesting than Gwen 😉

    • I liked her except for her storyline with her husband. it just seemed like it was holding back the series somehow.

  5. Merrill – I thought she was so cute at the beginning as well, I would always use the “joke” option with her. But then she gets creepy and I ended the game with her at 100% rivalry with me.

    Aveline – I loved the bit with Donnic. Especially when you’re supposed to be setting them up at the Hanged Man. I was laughing my ass off the whole time at the expressions.

    Fenris – Typical Bioware emo boy…stayed away from him the same reason I stayed away from Thane in ME2.

    Bethany – I was a warrior so I got her as well. I left her behind, but she was still taken from me when I returned. She was my best healer and so it was quite a blow. Of course, then I had Anders, but then…well…it gets a bit spoilery and since I don’t know where you are in the game right now, I’ll stop there. Just be sure to read how my game finished when you’re done and you’ll see why not having access to Bethany was such a big pain in the ass for me.

    • I admit merrill is so stubborn it borders on crazy, but romancing her made me, i don’t know, empathize with her more.

      I liked aveline a little, i just wish there was more for her to do. guard captain just isn’t very epic.

      SPOILER

      I agree with you on fenris, and in fact, SPOILER ended up stabbing him a lot at the end. He went down pretty quick too, guess i didn’t do a good enough job raising that little kid.

      However, Thane? Aside from his personal problems i thought he was super cool. one of the most interesting races in the ME universe.

      I really wanted to kill anders after what he did, but i took mercy on him. why? i needed a healer. I don’t think that portion of the game works out well. you should always have options.

      • very agree with you about Ander. In different playthrough I tried to take different routes but it seems to be inevitable.

        -Spoiler-
        It seems the chantry fate to be destroy no matter what. I always side with the mages since DA:O (cuz mostly i play a mage, or several mages exactly.) but DA2 make me want to Destroy Both the Templar and the Mage. They’re Crazy!

        Anyway,after finish the DA2, I think it ends quite well, for a crazy town like Kirkwall.

        • Yeah i agree with that last part. was having little sympathy for either side by the end of it.


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