Editorial: The Best RPG You're Not Playing

Dragon Age is coming.

Within this tome are the secrets to eternal happiness...

For those of you living under a rock, or possibly in a parallel universe in which Peter Molyneux has discovered the Energon Matrix and ascended to some sort of foul godhead from whence he dispenses pain and torment, Dragon Age is an RPG from BioWare, the genius devs behind modern RPG classics like Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect and true classics like Baldur’s Gate. What sets Dragon Age apart, however, is the lack of fucking spaceships. This is important.

We really do not have a good dark fantasy console RPG. We do not have a good dark fantasy RPG period. Dark fantasy is a bit nebulous as a genre, but it is awesome when done correctly. It dispenses with the heroism and scope of epic fantasy to revel in the literary tropes and conventions of low or heroic fantasy. It takes the grit of sword and sorcery and weds it to the cosmic sense of the unreal present in supernatural horror. The worlds of dark fantasy, from Moorcock’s Melniboné to Robert E. Howard’s Hyborean Age, are some of the greatest in the literary canon.

Conan films and games have tended to disappoint; Warhammer is at best a pale shadow of what a good, literary dark fantasy game could be. Diablo comes close, but it is a computer, and not a console, game.

Enter Dragon Age, which will be console players’ first real taste of a thick, meaty, bloody hunk of dark fantasy.

I have been purposefully avoiding spoiling my virginal experience of the game by not looking at the story, but I have been playing Dragon Age: Journeys, a browser-based, turn-based Flash RPG that ties in to the game. For such a simple game that one can play right from Firefox, it is surprisingly deep and just plain fun.

It is a freakin' BROWSER RPG!
The graphics scream 1995, but the gameplay screams "Disgaea!"

The stats reflected on the weapons hint that the items available in-game will be complex, and players will have to think hard about maximizing their statistics before selecting a new upgrade. Differing weapons give differing bonuses against enemy types. Most weapons are random drops in the monster-infested warrens of dungeons.

However, the game has more depth to it than the basic hack and slash of Diablo, moreso even than Diablo II. From what I can gather through my rudimentary playing, the world is infested by the “darkspawn,” monsters of various types that live to harass and harangue the good people of the world. It is your job as a “Grey Warden” to find them, pull out a variety of very interesting weapons and spells, and go to motherfarking town on some monster ass.

In other words, it is like BioWare stepped down from on high, crushed the cutesy, stylized skull of Molyneux beneath their jack-booted feet, and presented me with ambrosia in digital form.

Next Tuesday cannot come fast enough; if a browser-based game makes me want to rush home from work to play it, I expect the “real deal” will chain me to my TV. Sorry honey, there will be no TV watching this week. Or the next.


Addendum: Demon’s Souls
I officially hate Demon’s Souls, and call down a terribly evil and painful curse on its developers and their line unto the seventh generation. You should only play this game if you hate yourself and wish to suffer endless frustration while looking at a very well-made, very polished, and very excellent game.


  1. I only hear good things about this game.

    Which is astonishing. The chorus of congratulation is almost nauseating at the intensity which it has now reached–and yet, it may well be justified.

    Very much looking forward to this next week. I hope it meets expectation.

  2. Can’t wait to get this, I’m a big fan of games without fucking spaceships!

  3. Yeah, this game has definitely turned me from “not interested” to “very interested”

  4. I’m a big fan of games WITH fucking spaceships, but I still want this game. What’s weird is I really wasn’t following it at all, but they released the character creator a few weeks back and I downloaded that. Before they let you actually do any character creating, there was a quick trailer and it COMPLETELY pulled me in. I haven’t looked at anything else since, since, unless it turns out to be universally panned (doesn’t look like the case in the slightest), I’ll be picking it up relatively soon. Now if only I could break the ninja grip that Borderlands currently has on me X_X.

  5. If we’re doing a November playthrough for a PS3 game, then I think this is a pretty good candidate.

  6. When I first scanned the article I thought that screen shot was of the game, haha.

    I would get this… but I’m still to preoccupied with Demon’s Souls.

  7. @DG: the early reviews (as much as they can or can’t be trusted) seem universally positive. We’re talking 4.5/5 to 9/10 range here.

    @SN: I officially support a November playthrough of Dragon Age.

    @Oyashiro: my Gamefly package sits unopened since I’ve had non-stop trials this week. Tomorrow night I’m going to start.

  8. Haha, You may have picked a bad time to start playing Demon’s Souls. For Halloween weekend thay made all the enemies stronger. XD

  9. Probably send out a statement that all the enemies are super easy, but they really just triple the difficulty.

  10. Bahahahaha or release a statement saying that all enemies will give uber exp, but really set it so they don’t give any exp at all.

  11. wow, that’s really fucked up. strangely, that kinda makes me want to play it.

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