Reader Review: Dragon Age: Origins

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? David does, as he discovers that bugs aren't always confined to the tutorial dungeon.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by David Fowles. If you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins, or just want to ask David more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Dragon Age: Origins (360)

Bioware’s long-in-development high fantasy epic was released with surprisingly little fanfare. Lost in the shadow of Mass Effect 2’s year-long hype, this reviewer had to question whether Dragon Age was being deliberately hidden as the ugly brother or if they simply felt Bioware + Dragons = No Marketing Required.

Having just completed a single 60 hour + playthrough, I can see it’s a bit of both. Like its namesake, Dragon Age is both awesome and terrible.


The writing: Rises above its generic subject matter through character dialogue which is almost constantly engaging or amusing. Also, for people who love to read there is a cartload of purely-optional history logs throughout the game.

Moral quandaries: There are some hair-pulling hard choices in this game, not just the vanilla “Good/Evil” choices other games are proud of. There are some grey, grey areas to take your Grey Warden.

The talk: The voice acting is always adequate but is more often superb, particularly from your companion NPCs, whom you can expect to be talking to a lot.


The gameplay: The manual and what tutorial there is fail to explain the controls. Frustration and error are your guide. There’s nothing intuitive about the interface. The codex and quest data is a confusing mess (though this rarely matters.)

The broken auto-saves: The game autosaves… sometimes. It’s possible to lose hours of play because the game does not save between areas as you might expect.

The broken difficulty: On Normal mode, the game range’s between passably easy to occasionally, unexpectedly impossible.

The bugs: On 360, Dragon Age’s bugs have fleas. The most aggravating involves resuming savegames after a party wipe – do it manually, as the game will not always choose your most recent save.

The length: Some sections of the game seem to go on forever. If you were put off by Fallout 3’s underground metro, get ready for pain; at least the metro was largely optional.

The effort than went into crafting the choices and characterization in Dragon Age is obvious and there is a wealth of replayability to the game because of it. It’s just unfortunate then that, like Mass Effect, the gameplay is so terrible that you wouldn’t want to go through it all again. The choices available seem to have a more interesting and meaningful impact than those in Mass Effect, and I’m certainly more interested in replaying Dragon Age than that game, but I’m not in a hurry to.

If Bioware pony up a bug and balancing patch the size of a watermelon this game could tip over into win, as the elements which are brilliant are brilliant. From all accounts I’ve heard, this game is vastly better on PC. If that option is available to you, save yourself the hassle of the buggy, shoddy Xbox 360 port.

Reviewed by: David Fowles

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 300 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


    Regarding the gameplay, I find it hilarious how hard they seem to be trying to sell DA:O to a new audience (eg the emo rock trailer), yet the gameplay honestly hasn't evolved much beyond Baldur's Gate at all. If you've never played BG/NWN, you probably don't have much hope of easing into this game easily...

    I think this game would have been an awesome RPG 10 years ago. I have been playing it on PC and I think the reviews that I have read of it have been biased.

    This is the RPG that lacks soul for me. Like a relationship that has fallen out of love I am just going through the motions with this game. Uninspired and unimpressed by it.

    Looking forward to Mass Effect 2.

    Nice review.

      biased how??

    I’ll be giving in my review of the PS3 edition once I finish it.

    I actually think this is one of the best interfaces for rpg’s on consoles yet, I really didn’t need to consult the manual or tutorial, its pretty straight forward, bring up the radial menu and choose what you want.

    One of the reasons i love this game is because every feature in the game serves its purpose and has its place in the game. That’s one of the reasons i could never get into oblivion, its got so much pointless rpg filler features i just wont bother. its heavy on content but doesn’t dumb it down for the console.

    Playing it on 360, and the reviewer has it largely correct, except I 'got it' more than he, and am enjoying it far more, bugs and all.

    People are complaining about a bad PC to console port with Dragon Age and all I feel is some kind of deep satisfaction that the tables have turned this one time.

      simple math on a computer you have 105 possible keys plus an accurate non fiddly mouse(sometimes the analog sticks in an RPG can be a pain in the ass when games dont get ported to account for it)

      where on a ps3/360 controller youe have what 16(4 color thumsticks and cliks = 4 4 shoulder buttons and 4or 8 Dpad buttons (depends on the developer)

      the interface and gamplay are gonna get crowded same reason RTS rarely work well unless theve been simplified(or in the case of end war simplified and given verbal commands)

    I respect the reviewer as they has put in over 60 hours, but i completely disagree (having put in over 60 hours myself). I have not found any of the bugs they are mentioning and am wholeheartedly enjoying it on the XBOX 360. No doubt the PC is the better version, but these bugs/issues should not be stated as fact. I have a few friends playing it as religiously as I am and not one has encountered any of these bugs. The reviewer also indicates that they had a major gripe with the gameplay - although the interface is different it is the essentially same regardless of version you play. I love the pause and play mechanic, which is a part of most Bioware titles. That being said, the reviewer is entitled to their opinion.

      I've had some bugs but nothing that obstructs gameplay mostly just some people failing to talk or cutscenes repeating themselves...

    I picked it up on a whim along with Borderlands, both of which I never would have considered on my buying list. I've had trouble with everything on the hated list and yet I still cannot put this game down, nor do I want to. Even though there are little bugs, the story makes up for it ten fold

    i disagree 100%, love everythign about the game. If you are annoyged that autosave isnt auto enough, save more...

    If you're not playing it on PC, you're doing it wrong

    Amazing game, best CRPG since BGII

    This review talks about the game as if its got major issues...

    Would have to be one of the best RPGs i've played in a long while (since knights of the old republic).

    the story is vivid and entertaining.

    i've played both the PC and Xbox360, and i prefer the Xbox360 over the PC... you feel like you are playing as a character on the 360 (like mass effect), where the PC feels like you are just controlling a bunch of people (more RTS-game like).

    The review doesn't do it justice, and would hope that people play it for themselves than listen to this butchering...

    and to agree with other posts, I found a bug here and there, but nothing that would make me think it bad.

    keep going bioware... give us expansions!

    I am having a good time with the game, always been a Bioware fan. I do agree about the saves though, wish that there were auto saves at every map transition. I went from autosaving every few rooms where the werewolves are, to wasting 2 hours in the capital city Denerim when I forgot to manually save and died. Other than my mistake very good game so far.

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