The difficulty with explaining why Dragon Age: Origins was super-duper top dog stuff is that on a surface level it was all a bit boring. Nasty creatures are coming to destroy your green, faintly damp-looking world! You’ve got to save the realm, perhaps because prophecies? Prophecies might be a thing, I suppose. Also: dwarves and elves and sometimes magic.
Thematically there’s very little going on in Ferelden that hadn’t already been flogged to oblivion by the rest of the genre, which makes Origins an even tougher sell to a culture now fixated with Game of Thrones. Decapitation makes an occasional appearance, but Origins is largely po-faced fare. What helps it succeed anyway is the one cliché it skewers beautifully, through its depiction of evil and a place called ‘the fade’.