So Dragon Age Journeys is live, and... blimey, it's good stuff. EA 2D's free project designed to promote and link into Dragon Age: Origins is a 2D browser based RPG, letting you pick a character from the regular Dragon Age selection and then go exploring in the Dwarven Deep Roads. I wasn't sure exactly how they'd do it, presuming something very simple, hack-n-slashy, but fun all the same. I wasn't expecting a fully-fledged RPG with a unique combat mechanic.
I've only played briefly so far, but I'm already really pleased with what's on offer. In fact, so much of it directly reflects the full game, from the content to the screen furniture. Even the tutorial pop-ups are the same. You've got an inventory, weapons and armour along with weapons and armour stats (using the very appreciated super-simple window pop-ups for comparing with what you've got equipped that's in the main game). In fact it's also got the two weapon setup, letting you switch between them during combat. There's your character's own stats, with the full range of skills available to pick from as you level up. There's towns to explore, quests to pick up, merchants to trade with, party members to gather, and plenty of dialogue. I really wasn't expecting this.
The combat is distinct from DA:O. Here it goes for a super-traditional hex-floored turn-based system, letting you take advantage of flanking moves, a combination of ranged and melee combat, and party tactics. Progress you make, achievements earned, and special quests completed are saved to your EA account (which is increasingly worth having, with this and Burnout Paradise), and then can be applied to the main game with it comes out 3rd November - certain goals will unlock useful items for the daddy game, which is a really splendid way of linking them together.
Like I say, I've not got far yet, but far enough to save (!) and come here to tell you about it. I strongly recommend heading to the game's site and giving it a go - it takes a while to load at the start, but then is swift and smooth, and of course it's completely free. There are teething problems, but the team seem to be working non-stop, and are fixing bugs within minutes of their being reported. You can follow the progress of this on the game's Twitter, where they'll alert you to potential issues and then the resulting fixes.
I'm going back to kill more darkspawn now.