tek's rating: ¾

Dragon Age: Redemption, YouTube
BioWare; Cinedigm Entertainment; Dragon Age Wiki; IMDb; TV.com; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

First, let me say that I am not a gamer. However, it's necessary to explain that in November of 2009, a game was released called "Dragon Age: Origins." It was, apparently, quite popular with gamers, and highly regarded. Since then various expansions for the game were released, and in March of 2011, a sequel called "Dragon Age II" was released (though I think it was not generally as highly regarded by all fans as was the first game). Meanwhile, even though I am not really a gamer, I do have a vague affection for gamer culture, tending to lump it in with geek culture in general, including things like sci-fi/fantasy, comic books, animation, etc. And of course, I absolutely love the web series The Guild, which is about gamers. Sort of. And of course, it was created, written by, and stars the lovely and multi-talented Felicia Day, who also wrote and stars in "Dragon Age: Redemption," which is set in the same time as the events of Dragon Age II. The series premiered in October of 2011. I first heard of this series back in February, so I've been waiting for it almost eight months now. And while I have relatively little understanding of what's going on, I must say I definitely enjoyed the first episode (which is about 9 minutes long, and the time just flew by). I'm sure one needn't be familiar with the game to enjoy the web series, which can just as easily be taken as a straight-up fantasy story rather than just looking at it as an adaptation of a computer game. (It should also be mentioned that on the same day the web series premiered, an expansion for the second game called "Mark of the Assassin" was released, featuring Tallis, the character created by Day for her series.)

Still, I did order a copy of the first game before the series started, and began playing it after seeing the first episode but before the second, I think. I should mention that the web series is 6 episodes long. And um... well, I like the game, though as of the end of the series, I still haven't finished playing it, and I play it less often than I did at first. Hopefully I'll get through the whole thing eventually, but I don't know if I'll ever try the second game.

Anyway, um... each episode begins with some text that explains a bit about the world of Dragon Age (different information for every episode), which is much like what happens each time you load the game. I'll quote the info from the first episode, just to introduce you to things: In the world of Dragon Age, humans hold power through their church, the Chantry. The church's warriors, the Templars, strictly regulate the use of magic, as mages are easily corruptible by demonic possession. The Qunari, a race of formidable "grey giants", forcibly convert humans, dwarves, and elves alike to their rigid philosophy, the "Qun". Disobedience is never tolerated. Mages from both cultures often become pawns in the unending conflict between Qunari and Chantry...

The story begins in a Chantry prison, where someone is being tortured for information, though he doesn't give any up. However, other prisoners, led by someone called Saarebas, put a stop to the torture. (Looking online, I find that "saarebas" is a term for Qunari mages, not actually a person's name.) Anyway, this Saarebas uses magic to extract information from the tortured prisoner (which seems just as torturous as the physical means the Chantry torturer had been using), and then he escapes. The story then flashes to Kirkwall Harbor, where an elf (played by Day) is working as a butcher, apparently. A couple of humans taunt her, as she's a former assassin who has been reduced to this lot after some earlier failure or transgression. She's called "Athlok," which is some kind of (derogatory) title. But then a Qunari shows up and tells her she's been made "Tallis" again (her former title, though it's used more like a name). She's given an assignment to capture the renegade Saarebas and bring him back alive. Her first step in this mission involves getting information from one of the prisoners who had escaped with the Saarebas, though this is complicated by a Templar named Cairn, who is trying to capture the criminal. Tallis manages to learn that the Saarebas was looking for a Dalish camp (again looking online, I find that the Dalish are a subgroup of nomadic elves).

Well, in the second episode, Tallis and Cairn begin traveling together, and they're joined by a Dalish elf, a mage named Josmael. He wanted to find the Saarebas as well, because had killed Josmael's master and kidnapped his betrothed, Fina. I've kind of forgotten exactly when everything happened in the course of the series, but in episode 3 or 4, the group is joined by a mercenary named Tyree, who has her own reason for tracking the Saarebas, I guess. The four of them eventually catch up to the renegade mage in the 6th episode, and there's a battle. I don't really want to reveal any more about the plot or how it ends.

I should probably try to rewatch the whole series sometime, all at once, instead of waiting a week or more between the short episodes. I might like it better that way. I'll probably buy it on DVD, eventually. Though I have to say, while I did enjoy each episode, in the end, I'm afraid I didn't like the series as a whole quite as much as I'd hoped I would. Day was great, as always, and it's cool that they got Doug Jones to play Saarebas. Nor do I have anything against any of the other actors (none of whom I recognize from anything else). I thought the production itself was pretty good; nice costumes and everything. There was some decent humor and a reasonable amount of character development, given the limited storytelling time. Still, the quest itself, and its resolution, were just a little bit underwhelming. (I appreciate the dramatic aspects, but they would have been more compelling if we'd had more time to get invested in the characters.) However, I definitely think the series would be a good foundation to build upon, if Day ever wants to continue Tallis's story. If that happens, then in retrospect I think this story would become more meaningful. (Playing "Mark of the Assassin" might also help me appreciate this series more, I dunno.)


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