By ahgunsillyo 3 Comments
I know a lot of people here on the Giant Bomb forums have expressed their dislike of both Dragon Age II and Felicia Day, but as a moderate fan of both, I figure I'd post this anyway to see what people's thoughts are. For those who aren't aware of this, Redemption is a webseries that takes place in the Dragon Age universe and is written by and stars Felicia Day as the elf assassin Tallis. Apparently long in the making (Day mentioned somewhere around 16 months at the Dragon Age panel at PAX Prime 2011), it has strong ties to both Dragon Age II and the Mark of the Assassin DLC, which also stars Tallis and launches alongside this first episode of the webseries.
SPOILERS FOR THE 9-MINUTE SHORT AHEAD!
Episode 1 of Redemption begins the tale of Tallis, an elf assassin who has been converted to the Qun. She is apparently not in very good graces with the Qunari and is sent on a mission to redeem herself (perhaps the titular Redemption). Tallis's task is to locate and retrieve the Qunari mage Saarebas (played by Silver Surfer and Abe Sapien actor Doug Jones), who has escaped from a Chantry prison with a band of followers/henchmen. However, she is not the only one with this mission, as a Templar from the Chantry has also been sent to capture Saarebas. Naturally, their paths cross, and both their adventures immediately become much more complicated.
This short episode moves very quickly, giving a cursory glance at some of the main characters that we'll no doubt get to know much better as the series progresses. Day's Tallis in particular looks, not surprisingly, to be an interesting character with a complex, mysterious backstory, and her introduction is handled well, as it quickly shows us what kind of person she is and a quick glance at her situation with the Qunari. She is feisty and confrontational; she takes great offense to being objectified or looked down upon as an elf and is quick to start a fight when riled up. Being a rogue (assassin sub-class), she is nimble and attacks enemies with dual knives. She is also shown to be rather flirtatious and witty, as she smiles and quips at her Templar rival as she darts around in the midst of battle. Day plays her character fairly well, but it is difficult to get much insight into Tallis as a character from this introductory episode. Still, we get to see both her serious and whimsical sides, so that's a nice bit of range in a short amount of time.
The rest of the episode is a bit mixed in various ways. The production quality is respectable for a webseries, most of the props and effects are practical, with CGI only present in a small instance of magic and a small spray of blood. The costumes and art style are consistent for the most part, and the parts that are look pretty good. The costuming, from Tallis's form-fitting armor to the Templar's armor and shield to the rags that everybody else seems to wear, seem to all be well-made, nicely detailed, and are fairly in-line with the art style of the Dragon Age games. It's clear they spent a good amount of time and effort replicating the look of the games in a live-action form.
However, the creators of the series appear to have run into a bit of a problem when translating the look of the actual species from the games. The designs of the Qunari, in particular, stand out as a bit tacky and are somewhat distracting in a laughable way. They are designed to look as they did in Dragon Age II, as horned, grey-skinned giants. They opted to achieve this look with the use of enormous, Klingon-esque brow prosthesis and either a layer of saggy fake skin or grey body paint. This ends up looking rather tacky, though it might be the best they could do given the budgetary constraints. What doesn't help is that neither of the two Qunari seen in the episode are nearly as tall as their game counterparts. This is especially evident in a scene where a Qunari, who is not as tall as he should be, gives the mission to Tallis, who is not as short as she needs to be, resulting in an awkward height differential of about less than one foot.
Despite those niggling annoyances, I liked the first episode of Dragon Age: Redemption and will be checking out future episodes. Tallis comes off as a rather enthusiastic and likable character, and I'm interested to see her story and how she grows both as a character and alongside the characters she meets. It's very clear that Felicia Day gave her all in both creating the storyline and characters and inhabiting the rich and complex universe of the Dragon Age games, as well as physically preparing for her role as Tallis. That level of conviction alone has piqued my interest, and if Day also manages to tell a compelling story that can mesh well with or enhance the existing Dragon Age fiction, then I'd consider that a success.