How 2014 Became the Year I Returned to Gaming

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So it turns out when your mother buys a new house that needs a lot of renovation, that you sort of lose track of time and every day turns into a mix between sleeping and painting. So. Much. Painting. What horrible person decided you had to paint stone 5,000 times to make sure it’s mold and water proof?

So that’s basically where I’ve been… covered in various types and colors of paint, and it’s not even done yet. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping my mom out, but I think I will forever have claw hands.

To relax after days of hard(ish) labour, I’ve been playing a lot of video games. Be in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 3DS or The Sims. At first I picked up my old Harvest Moon: Animal Parade game. Got hitched. Had a baby. Tended my crops. I love Harvest Moon to pieces because it’s a farming simulations and it’s charming and sweet and SO ADDICTIVE.

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Arson is hilarious in Harmonica Town.

It’s sort of been the theme this year actually. In March I moved flats in London with my flatmates and the first two or so weeks, we didn’t have internet. So, what are three internet-obsessed gals to do? Turn on the XBox and pick a game. Occasionally we’d watch one¬†play Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto and have a go at the latter ourselves. However, it wasn’t until we decided to play Assassin’s Creed II as a group that the gaming madness started. You can read about my accidental Assassin’s Creed obsession here on Very Nerdy Curly, but I’m going to expand on that.

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If you follow me on twitter, first, bless your heart, and secondly, you know I tweet a LOOOOT about Dragon Age. It’s a fairly recent obsession, but it’s completely taken over my life in the best way. But how did I fall heart-first into Thedas? Well…

See, I was really excited for Assassin’s Creed Unity, so excited I bought myself a Playstation 4. That’s excited. While the game was gorgeous and Arno was a stellar hero, the storyline was really… lame. I’m going to write out my thoughts in another post one of these days, but let’s say I played a lot of Unity and then I just kinda stopped. I was annoyed because The French Revolution is my FAVORITE time period in history. It’s fascinating, and Unisoft really wasted an amazing opportunity. The only real redeeming factor storyline wise was that you get to pair up with a young Napoleon Bonaparte at one point which made me happier than you can possibly image.

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Napoleon and Arno

So yeah, that was exciting, but I found myself not really caring if I finished it, even using the crazy cool broadcast feature that allowed friends of mine to watch me play and comment as I accidentally ran up walls. The fact I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with Unity was depressing in itself. It had the chance to be such a GREAT game, but it fell flat after how frankly majestic Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was. So what was I to do? A few of my friends had been excitedly anticipating Dragon Age: Inquisition, and despite not really knowing much about it, I bought it. I haven’t been seen in polite society since.

Flatmates and I had started a Dragon Age: Origins game a few months back, but quickly realized it wasn’t really a group activity game like Assassin’s Creed could be. It was too personal. Each choice you made affected the story and get three indecisive people in a room together and you can imagine how much that failed. So, while I knew of Dragon Age, I wasn’t that familiar with it. Turns out that was a good thing because I had no expectations and Inquisition stole my heart.

Again, I’m going to write a stupidly enthusiastic essay about why Dragon Age: Inquisition really is the best game of this year and why you NEED to play it, but I’ll summarize here that it’s an engaging, emotional story that is not only full of adventure and intrigue, but it’s fun. Basically it starts with your character in chains because it turns out you’re the sole survivor of an explosion at a meeting of ‘the powers that be’ that was meant to resolve the Mage-Templar war that’s been raging since Dragon Age 2. You’ve got this crazy green glowing mark on your hand and it turns out you can close these Fade Rifts (the Fade is sort of like this limbo like spirit world that mages draw their power from and where demons hang out) that are sprouting up everywhere and overrunning the world with demons. Oh dearie me! After trying to close the big giant rift in the sky, you’re labeled the Herald of Andraste (Thedas’ answer to a Jesus-like figure if you will, except she was the wife of The Maker not the child, The Maker is God) and after a series of events then you’re named The Inquisitor as you essentially rouse and craft an army, no, a froce, to go against big baddie Corypheus. That’s a horribly simple summary, but there you go.

My first Inquisitor, Ottilie.
My first Inquisitor, Ottilie.

One of the joys I found in Inquisition was character customization and how you can really build a personality based on the answers you choose. What you choose directly affects the plot (ie side with Mages or Templars), and there’s a LOT of really hard decisions, some involving lives of companions. You really build relationships with the other characters to, there’s romance (Cullen and Dorian ftw btw), and it’s so engaging that you cannot help but to continue to play long past your mind can comprehend what time of the night it is. Also, dragons. Lots of dragons.

All the Dragon Age games benefit from multiple playthroughs as well, and I’m well on my way to finishing my second. Instead of a freckly female mage Inquisitor, I’ve got a… freckly… male… mage… Inquisitor. Shusssh. I’m really original.

While Ottilie was good-hearted, Teo is a sarcastic little shit.
While Ottilie was good-hearted, Teo is a sarcastic little shit.

I’ve got a third playthrough already ready to go where I’ll be going the Templar route instead of the Mage route. Which sort of goes against every fiber in my being, and that makes it particularly interesting. Inquisition really introduced me tot he world of Thedas and the massive amount of Dragon Age lore. I’ve since gone back and gotten the art book and all the novels and am really looking forward to diving in. I also grabbed Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 on Origins (getting use to playing on the computer was rough, ngl) and I’m pretty much, as Flatmate says, in “Dragon Age hell.”

There’s no getting out.

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My Hawke from Dragon Age 2

These games are great. You get stupidly attached to the characters and there’s such a world to explore (moreso in Origins and Inquisition than 2, but 2 takes place in a specific city so…). I can’t recommend them enough and they’ve really just made gaming so incredibly enjoyable. I’m weird and going backwards. I’m playing the DLC for Dragon Age 2 now and once that’s done I’ll have finished the game. Then it’s time for Origins, which I know will be a very enriching experience and I’ll finally get all the references in 2 and Inquisition. I’d recommend going the opposite way of me, but I also understand if you can’t wait to play Inquisition. I don’t blame you at all.

But what’ll be next? What happens when I’ve finished all the Dragon Age games and need something else? I’m taking suggestions, because I have no plans to stop gaming again any time soon.

And it turns out, after I tweeted the tweet at the top of this here post, that a lot of you have picked up the games I’ve rambled on about because I was having so much fun! And that’s really the greatest thing. I’m glad to spread the wealth and watch you, too, descend into gaming madness. Welcome to the club.

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