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Dragon Age Journeys:
The Deep Roads


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Rating: 4.7/5 (145 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (126)

DoraDragon Age Journeys: The Deep RoadsIn this brand new fantasy RPG that fits right in your browser, Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep Roads sends you and your party deep beneath the earth to explore the dangerous Dwarven lands. As it turns out, exploring the realm has a lot less shaking hands with Dwarven merchants and diplomats, and a lot more weeping over the shattered remains of your comrades, and you soon find yourself alone in the strange underworld. Rather than spend the rest of your life in a fetal position in some nice, safe, dusty corner, you decide to carry out your mission and find out what was behind the attack that decimated your party.

You start out by making a character, choosing your appearance, sex, race, name, and class. The game autosaves after events and every battle, letting you resume play instantly whenever you like. But by making a free EA account (where the only information you need to provide is your e-mail), you can save anytime, and keep your achievements for special items. For the most part, the game is played with the mouse, clicking on an area to move there, or an item to pick it up.

Combat plays out in turns on a grid, with you, your allies, and your enemies attacking in turns. It's explained via a helpful tutorial that pops up when needed, but it essentially boils down to selecting your actions via the menu at the bottom, moving within the green area you can reach, and clicking on enemies to attack them. But what's interesting is that it can take such simple mechanics and still make battles feel strategic. Enemies use special abilities, place traps, and try to flank you. You can even use the terrain to your advantage, hiding behind obstacles to obscure yourself from ranged attackers. While it's still not exactly the stuff of legends, the combat system here at least manages to keep you involved in your battles, and elevate it above a mindless click-fest.

For an RPG small enough to fit in your browser, Journeys is remarkably detailed. There are treasures to find, skills to upgrade, quests to complete, and more. The gameplay tends to lean more towards dungeon-crawling combat than a text-heavy RPG, with much of your time spent trawling through caverns, but there's enough story and high adventure to bring a smile to the face of most traditional fantasy gamers. Each victory feels satisfying, every level you advance earned. You know that special feeling you get when you hack the shins off of something five times your size? Or that special glow when you finally have enough bloodied copper pennies to buy a new dagger? You'll find that in Journeys as well.

While the animation is perhaps a little rough'n'ready, leading to the sort of stiff, limb-flailing movement that puts one in mind of Kermit the Frog, the game as a whole actually looks quite good. Enemies are surprisingly detailed, magical effects look nice, and everything spouts a satisfying glurt of blood when struck in combat that makes it look like they're defending themselves with a ketchup squeezy bottle. Capping it off is a hefty orchestral soundtrack, guaranteed to make you feel like you're about to strap on your best set of pauldrons and march off to fame, gold, and certain painful demise.

Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep RoadsAnalysis: I could go into embarrassing detail about the depth of my love for RPG superstars Bioware and how I want to be Best Friends Forever with their entire writing department, but it turns out that now I can just point to Journeys as an example of why. While in essence the game is basically there to promote the upcoming console and PC RPG Dragon Age, Journeys still feels like a fleshed out game rather than an advertisement. And while no purchase is necessary to play Journeys, if you do have a copy of Dragon Age once it's released, you can actually earn items that will carry over into the retail version through completing quests and achievements.

Apart from acting as a means to whet your appetite, Journeys tells an interesting story. There's murder, betrayal, and a big, meaty helping of adventure that should satisfy your desire for mad loots and elf babes. While there's a lot of backstory here to the world that you may not be familiar with, none of it is really necessary to play and enjoy the game. Even without having read most of the Dragon Age supplemental material off the official website, I never felt as though characters were talking over my head.

But don't go thinking you can throw all your old RPGs out the window. A wise man once said, man cannot live on Flash RPGs alone, and for good reason. As fun and well made as it is, it still lacks a little in some aspects. You'll spend a lot of time tramping through long, mostly featureless corridors fighting battle after battle when all you really want is to get to the next bit of quest. It's frustrating as well that the dialogue here is as well written as in any Bioware game, but there's often not nearly enough of it. There are wide areas that are in sore need of even a non-story critical NPC to enliven them and keep them from feeling like they're just there to pad the length of time you'll spend walking around.

Journeys isn't a behemoth that's going to require days of your precious time to conquer, but it will easily offer a solid evening's enjoyment for most gamers. Longer if they seek out every item and every achievement. If you're looking for something more involved than most browser RPGs, Dragon Age Journeys easily has enough to keep you occupied, and may just leave you wanting more. Just remember that while the price of healing potions may be painful, not having any when you take a scimitar to the face hurts a lot more. Spend some time in Dragon Age. You just may be glad you did.

Play Dragon Age Journeys: The Deep Roads

25 Comments

I was hoping this would be reviewed. :D

Not too far in the game yet. I shall play more when I have more free time.

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Skibo1219 October 27, 2009 1:05 AM

most fun I've had with a flash game in a long time

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BladeStorm Author Profile Page October 27, 2009 8:25 AM

very nice game, its being used as a feeder to a game being released on ps3/xbox

gotta wonder how much different the real thing would be - its basically a diablo ripoff

not that thats a bad thing, hopefully jay can keep us updated when the second chapter gets released?

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Ah I wasn't aware that you could earn extra items by playing this one. Thats neat :). I've got origins preordered so even better :D.

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The actual game's a fair bit different from this - after all, this is just a flash game, and the full one's a computer+console game.

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Lovely game (and it's worked, I'm genuinely wanting to play now) although there are a few blunders (the way obstacles to ranged attacks work, for example, and firebolt should by rights work in all 6 directions - as it stands it's never really useful.)

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I think what he was talking about was Dragon Age: Origins (The full PC game), being a "ripoff" of Diablo. The full game is an action RPG, not a turn based RPG. Think Mass Effect, but with magic, and less guns.

I'm still inclined to disagree though. Just because a game is an Action Rpg, doesn't make it a ripoff of Diablo. I played Diablo 2 for 8 years, so don't get me wrong, I love the series, and Blizzard definitely helped pioneer the genre. But certainly not a "ripoff".

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Doh! They don't give you enough monsters to reach Level 8. I was really looking forward to it and was so close when the game unexpectedly ends. I WANT THE FIREBALL! Bastards! :)

Really fun game, one of the better flash RPG games I have played.

The good:

The turn-based strategy battles are nothing new, but it did a pretty good job with them and they were fun.

The graphics were pretty top notch, though more variety in the dungeon graphics would have been nice.

The character abilities, magic items, and other RPG elements were well thought out and implemented. I assume they have all been adapted from the full game and have been well tested, and it shows.

The bad:

Anyone else notice the placement of obstacles in the battlefields is always on your side of the screen, which means they are always more of a disadvantage to you. Also, the obstacles would block you from firing at them, but didn't block them from firing at you most of the time. That kind of "cheating" always pisses me off.

The movement was kind of annoying. They are using a hex grid for movement it looks like (you can only move in six directions) which makes for very jerky and chaotic movement. Add that to the fact that sometimes it just wouldn't go the spot you are specifying at all, and getting around dungeons was a serious chore sometime.

I really don't think the story line was all the great. It started out well, but it really seemed to get off track later and we are just dealing with random non-sequitur "side quests". It seems like whatever the over-arching story is, it isn't enough to sustain the game. Maybe the next chapter will get back on track.

But those are very minor quibbles. All in all it is a superior game, and I can't wait until chapter 2.

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SkfyS Day Author Profile Page October 27, 2009 3:18 PM

I really miss the golden age of turn-based RPG,like Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate, Heroes: Might and Magic 3. It seems the improvements on GPUs have only bred fabulous shells without substance.

This game is far from perfect, but it is better than nothing. 3 out of 5 for trying.

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tenkuchima Author Profile Page October 27, 2009 11:23 PM

Can't really get into this, and I'm usually a huge fan of these kind of games. I think the game mechanics are really deep, but the game itself is really simple(if that makes sense). It also gets boring really fast. I gave up after I finished fighting the same pair of monsters in the same formation using the same skills for the 5th time.

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tenkuchima Author Profile Page October 27, 2009 11:30 PM

In response to the diablo rip off thing( I know, I should read the comments before posting) from what I;ve seen of gameplay and the reviews I've read, dragon age origins is highly tactical. it runs in real time, but you can pause the game to give specific orders, and spells can affect the environment and change the whole battle, stuff like that. where as in diablo you could pretty much just spam the same spell and win most fights.

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I couldn't get the backstab to work, the only thing stealth seems to do is to keep you from getting attacked.

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No, Flakey, it definitely works - some of the time. Other times, as it says, your stealth is broken before the attack, so no backstab bonus for you.

Regarding Diablo II: someone got me that game for my birthday once. ...Then my dad made me return it because I was 13 or so at the time and it was rated M. (Grr...)

Dora: Yes, I knew about the Submit button, but I figured I'd give you guys a day or two to see if you found it on your own before I submitted it. Submitted Mass Effect Galaxy, since I'm unable to buy it, and I want to know how it is.

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Anonymous October 28, 2009 3:53 AM

I'm surprised by how fun this game was. XD

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I really enjoyed Journeys as a free browser game. The turn-based combat was better than most 'action rpg' click-fests. The flanking and cover were cool. And I like the fact that I can move all I want before performing my action. That way I can assess the terrain before taking a shot.

I agree with Skfy5 regarding the golden age of turn-based RPGs like Fallout 1&2. But Baldur's Gate, while a lot of fun, was real-time with pause and not turn-based. This new game Dragon Age: Origins is also real-time with pause. It keeps the action moving without making it a 'click-fest', but I still feel pure turn-based is a bit more tactical.

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I'm stuck trying to figure out how I complete this game. I've killed all the enemies in the 3 possible areas off the city (smugglers, where you find the warror, and genlock hearts). I've completed all 5 quests including the stat potion / mushroom picking one. 526 experience from level 8 too, I was so looking forward to trying out the 3rd tier skills.

I've yet to decide if I'm going to get Dragon Age for the console but I'd like to finish out the last achievement if all possible.

Any and all help is appreciated :)

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Rereading the last achievement I believe I've found my solution. I was reading it as "Complete the game as a Rogue, Mage or Warrior" but it isn't 'or', it's 'and'. Looks like I've got to do two more play throughs.

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trollface October 28, 2009 9:32 PM

My question is - is it "Dragon Age", as in "the age of Dragons" or "Dragonage", like "haulage" or "amperage"? I think we should be told.

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It was fun for a while, but after an hour or so it seems like every battle is exactly the same.

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It says in the in-game help document that there's a level cap of 7. It also seems to indicate that new content will be added to the game eventually.

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Fun, but not long enough, I wish there was more battles so I could level up more. This game also had good battle mechanics, such as walking all around within a defined area to get the best angle was nice and worked very well.

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Fun, but keeps freezing in Firefox 3.5.

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Fun fun! Does anybody know when the 2nd chapter of this is going to be released??!

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@trollface
It is called Dragon Age, as in "Era of Dragons" or like The Middle Ages. Hope I didn't say this pretty gawd-damned late.

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