But coming out the other end of an epic 80 hours' first playthrough, I leave with memories that feel like more than simply events in a game. The friendship I formed with fellow Grey Warden Alistair has an echo of a reality. His penchant for sarcasm, his sniping conversations with Morrigan as we explored, and his struggle to balance emotion and bravado, continue to resonate.
I've not only been to huge cities, but I've learned their past, their present, and been involved in shaping their future. This hasn't felt like passing through a series of checkpoints, but having experienced a world. I know enough about the religion of the Chantry to preach their own Chants. My connection to the Grey Wardens is palpable, and the part I played an honourable one.
This is the most enormously detailed game world I've experienced, its history stretching back thousands of years, its cultures vivid, beautiful and flawed, the battles enormous, the humour superb. Roleplaying games now have a great deal to live up to.
A truly astonishing game. Vast, vivid and microscopically detailed. Dragon Age is the RPG of the decade.