Character appreciation: Sten – Dragon Age: Origins

Every now and then I’d like to dedicate a post to some of my favourite characters – first up is Sten, Qunaria warrior from Dragon Age: Origins. SPOILERS BELOW – Dragon Age: Origins.

Sten disapproves – 10

He has to be one of the most absolutely infuriating companions I’ve ever encountered he’s also one of the most complex and compelling in the Dragon Age series.

The Dragon Age wiki describes Sten as:
“..a stoic and disciplined man with a strong code of ethics, and the way he treats others depends on whether or not they have his respect, which he does not give easily. “

When we first meet him all we know is that he may or may not have killed a family, yikes! (Turns our he dunnit) In fact, his very recruitment presents the Warden with the first of many morally vague choices – locked in a cage in Lothering the only way to set him free is to pick the lock, convince the Revered Mother at Lothering Chantry to release him to your custody (or intimidate her, if threatening old ladies in churches is your thing)… and the only thing you know about him is not a positive.

The approve/disapprove system in DA:O works particularly well with Sten’s character in that you can’t be entirely sure if there is a ‘safe’ response in any of the dialogue. Because his questions are so complex and his views so ingrained in his own culture and experiences you really have to listen to Sten to understand him. 

Now that’s role-playing at its finest.

As the hero, you often find yourself worshipped and adored – surrounded by sycophants and fans with glazed over eyes (I’m looking at you, Conrad Verner) but Sten is none of these things and it is so refreshing. He constantly makes the Warden consider not only their choices, but their role in the war, in the world and their ability to fight the Blight.

Characters like Sten’s make the whole companion/party system much more enjoyable and realistic. Sure, I want people to like me but not just because I’m ‘the hero’. Humans are by nature social creatures and whilst spending a lot of time with video game characters isn’t quite the same as socialising IRL when a game can make you carefully consider your actions, words and moral choices based on the people surrounding you and their perceptions of you, it’s doing a bloody good job.

So here’s to Sten! Even though he’d probably disapprove of this.

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