Warning: This article contains spoilers. I would, however, appreciate if you did not spoil anything beyond the point of the game that I discuss.

Areas spoiled: Denerim Market, Haven, The Hidden Temple

Previous articles: 1, 2, 3

Finally, a new look for Fiona. After leaving the Circle of Magi in the first hours of the game, I was finally able to acquire some new mage robes that suit Fiona’s renegade nature far better than the conservative starter gear. This particular set was picked up from a vendor in Denerim and although I found it hideous at first it has had time to grow on me.

I have now played approximately twenty-four hours of Dragon Age Origins, and I’m still enjoying every minute of it. I’d probably be much farther along if I could consistently find blocks of one hour or more with which to play – I just can’t justify firing the title up if I know I’ll be online for any less than that.

On the Denerim Market

- On my way to Denerim I was ambushed by Zevran, the Antivan Crow assassin, who I beat down handily. After the battle I was greatly amused by his banter and allowed him to join my party despite the fact that he immediately tried to get in bed with me. (Not to mention Alistair’s sullen pouting – I swear, Alistair is a spoiled child who hates not getting things his own way.)

- Upon entering Denerim I decided to switch up my party, and ran with Fiona, Alistair, Morrigan, and Rascal (my Mabari warhound). This meant benching Leliana who had been under-performing in my opinion, despite being useful as a lock pick.

- The Denerim market contains some great NPCs. From the delusional Chantry matron who keeps mixing up her scriptures with food references, to the eccentric smith Wade, to Master Ignacio and Sergeant Kylon, the entire zone is brimming with character.

- Speaking of Ignacio, I decided not to take him up on his offer of work. I’ve no interest in going out of my way to be an assassin.

- I was extremely irritated by the bizarre and repetitive card game that you play with Isabela to learn the Duelist class. I never did figure out how to win; it seemed like dumb luck with no chance to influence the outcome. Perhaps only warriors can win?

- The Blood Mage house in the center of Denerim was a shock to the system. I found myself having to beat strategic retreats on a frequent basis to avoid being slaughtered, and pulling technique seemed to become increasingly important as the instance wore on. The final boss was nasty, and whenever I let crowd control slip on him something bad happened – I barely got through that fight, and only Morrigan survived.

- The first time you get hit by a fireball in Dragon Age it’ll scare the hell out of you. Especially if you don’t see it coming because the mage is hiding in a room off to the side. Ouch.

- Tactically, I also had to learn to use “Hold Position” instead of “Free Move” when battling through the Blood Mage enclosure. This because very useful in all future battles.

On Haven

- After completing all of the Denerim Market quests I made my way to Haven to see about finding Brother Genitivi. I rearranged my party again before leaving because the lack of a rogue was driving me mental: Alistair was left at home in favor of Leliana, which left Rascal to tank.

- The atmosphere in the town of Haven is creepy – especially when the young boy recites his long rhyming chant. Very well done.

- Given the atmosphere, it didn’t take long to pull back the curtains on the delusional cult that had set up shop in the town. (Not that the normal Chantry isn’t delusional – but the citizens of Haven took it to a whole new level.) I killed the shopkeeper in self defense to discover the slain Redcliffe Knight, and then the entire town was on top of me. It was a bit odd that killing one man behind closed doors could illicit such an immediate response, but that’s RPGs for you….

Three pretty ladies and a pooch

On The Hidden Temple

- After clearing out the Chantry in Haven I finally was able to meet Brother Genetivi, who turned out to be a shifty fanatic who has stary eyes for the Urn of Sacred Ashes due to its significance to the Chantry. I didn’t trust him from the start, and was as evasive as possible every time I had to speak with him.

- Annoyingly, the game decided to teleport me up the mountain to The Hidden Temple. I would have rather walked, thank you.

- The encounters within the Hidden Temple were fairly straight forward, with a good mix of magic users and melee soldiers sent in to harass you. Drakes and Ash Wraiths also occasionally appeared, but since both are significantly hindered by frost effects my two ice-focused mages made quick work of them.

- It is probably worth mentioning that I still have no healer in my party, and neither of my mages can use even the lowest level healing spell. This is intentional – I have no desire to min-max my characters away from the ideas that I had for them when I started the game. So far healing potions have kept me afloat, and I just CC as much as possible while DPSing everything down quickly.

- After killing Kolgrim at the back of the temple (his offer was a little too lunatic to be considered) I headed onto the mountain top and used the horn he dropped to summon the so-called reincarnation of Andraste. The dragon kicked my ass in roughly thirty seconds – I didn’t stand a chance. The battle was so lopsided that I opted not to try again, and instead pressed forward into the gauntlet.

- The gauntlet presents the player with four “tests of faith”, which I figured would not be particularly good for my heathen mage. Not so! The riddles were fairly simple, and I solved all but one. The battle against clone of my party was tough, as they can dish out a tonne of DPS and CC (as mentioned above) and it took me three tries to win. The bridge puzzle was a nice change of pace, and I solved it relatively quickly after mapping out all of the mechanics on paper. Finally, the walk through the fire was rather silly, as depicted below:

Matching panties for all!

- With the ashes secured (and my armor back on) I headed back to Redcliffe and revived Arl Eamon. I received a crappy staff as a reward, and was told to go do other quests while the Arl prepares to try to unite humankind.

- I tried to have Jowan set free, but he was sent away to the Circle of Magi. Since that is cruel and unusual punishment, my next stop will be the Circle tower where I hope to break the Chantry’s hold on the mages and rescue Jowan. Sadly, I doubt the plot will allow for at least one of these outcomes…. but we’ll see.

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