There’s little things as satisfactory as ending a good game, especially when such game has engaged you not only with a carefully crafted gameplay and cutting-edge visuals, but an interesting and breathtaking story. An aspect like storytelling has been considered as minor within this industry since the early days, but it can’t be denied it greatly enhances the whole experience. Gaming gurus like Hideo Kojima and Masahiro Sakurai were pioneers in the art of telling good interactive tales, but nowadays there are a lot of pieces showcasing good stories to keep the gamer on the edge of their seats.
Dragon Age: Origins; one of Bioware’s finest pieces within their outstanding library, is a perfect example. With a dark story that spans one year, and where you’ll have to make important choices to shape the outcome of you, your friends and your world, it’s only natural the ending offers so much interesting material to talk about. Quite simply, Dragon Age: Origins has an unforgettable ending.
The greatest thing about Dragon Age’s finale, is the incredible weight of all the hours spent on the game; all the choices made. For instance, in what’s known as the Landsmeet you get to decide the fate of both one of your main enemies and your party as a whole; the ability of facing Loghain, not only with your sword, but by political (and emotional) arguments makes this instance one of DA:O’s defining and most memorable moments. This last part of choice-making will drastically (but not substantially) affect the outcome over the course of the finale; you’ll be able to gain a valuable asset to your party (at the expense of Alistair, arguably another valuable asset) or either put him in jail o just kill him, and it’s so cleverly constructed you’ll probably have to think through the choices available (or create different Saves) in order to decide what better fits yourself.
The Landsmeet is just the beginning of the end; a device for setting the epic final battle. Before such battle comes, there’s a needed end to a seemingly important subplot: Morrigan. Following suit with the trend of putting the gamer in difficult situations, Morrigan’s proposition is quite an interesting one, and the number of possibilities that deploy depending of your actions are both cool and funny (Loghain hooking up with Morrigan is just hilarious). Unfortunately, although there’s huge potential in the Morrigan and her son storyline, it was completely wasted on the Witch Hunt DLC, and the fact you have to wait for next games (or novels, or TV series) to know what happened in the end to our beloved busty witch, is dissapointing.
What follows is the joining of all the forces you managed to gather over the course of the game. With a little help of Inon Zur’s superb soundtrack, you get to see in a very emotional and heroic way how the different factions prepare and march for what quite possibly could be their end. Above all, it really shows the aforementioned weight of your choices; you might, for example, feel a stronger connection for the Dalish Elves, but deep inside you get to wonder how useful slaughtering all of them would have been in order to get the help of the infinitely stronger Werewolves. Same thing with the Templars, and of course the Golems.
Either way, that final march is complemented with something that has become standard in Hollywood epic movies: the heroic speech; played by either Alistair or Anora in a very grand way. Origins manages to give you everything to get you excited and set-up for the battle of your life. The choices felt important in the end, the grandeur is evident and the enemy, merciless; the battle for Denerim has you traveling within the various parts of the city in order to protect whatever you can, and you can finally make use of the army you assembled throughout the game. This is the time you’ll finally realize how good of a choice saving the Elves was, or put the natural-born warrior reputation of the dwarves to the test.
The fight against the Archdemon is just the icing of an epic cake. It won’t by any means be an easy fight (it won’t be overly difficult either) but it’ll probably test your skills in commanding both your party and your army. It’s a very interesting battle to say the least, and one I personally hadn’t experienced in a long time; they don’t do final bosses like this one anymore. With a permanent array of enemies trying to rip your guts, the necessity of constantly managing your healer, managing your stamina so you attack good enough but have space to retreat and recover, and deploying your army in a way they get the least damage; this boss is quite easily one of the most intense (yet strategic) and breathtaking fights in recent years.
Beating that huge dragon was not enough for the folks at Bioware. After all of this, you’ll still have one final choice. Should you kill the Archdemon? Should Alistair? Or Loghain? Whatever you choose, it will affect the ending even further (whoever kills the Archdemon dies), but it’s the simple fact of having this choice at this moment that feels so great. Origins really nailed it when it comes to pacing.
The last moments of the game are nothing short of remarkable, you are in the middle of a little party while Alistair, or Anora (or both) give a small speech, where in an interesting way you get to choose what you’ll do next. Of course, the whole outcome with Morrigan turned out to be kind of disappointing but the moment is memorable. You also get to have little talks with everyone in your party, which is always a welcome addition; in RPGs (like any Final Fantasy) I always get the feeling I don’t know enough of the fate of my comrades, but Origins will have you more than covered. Oh, and don’t forget Sten’s epic line: “Where is the cake? I was told there would be cake! The cake is a lie”.
All in all, despite some technical and design flaws, Dragon Age: Origins is truly remarkable in almost every way. It builds up an interesting story and goes off with a bang. Even though some might consider the choices minor, they really help the whole experience to feel relevant, profound and meaningful. Dragon Age: Origins’s ending is completely unforgettable; it’s long, epic, full of witty dialog, inspiring and every relevant aspect, including the fate of your comrades is fulfilled (except Morrigan, of course, which still goes out with an interesting premise on her back… or belly).