Dragon Age: Redemption – Episode 1: Tallis
“In the world of Dragon Age, humans hold power through their church, the Chantry. The church’s warriors, Templars strictly regulate the use of magic, as mages are easily corruptible by demonic possession. The Qunari, a race of formidable “grey giants”, forcibly convert humans, dwarves, and elves alike to their rigid philosophy, the “Qun”. Disobedience is never tolerated. Mages from both cultures often become pawns in the unending conflict between Qunari and the Chantry…”
And so the opening text sets the stage for Dragon Age: Redemption, a web series produced by the Knights of Good. You may recognize them as the same people responsible for the excellent award-winning comedy web series The Guild, which is also created and written by Felicia Day.
In Dragon Age: Redemption Felicia plays the main character, an elven assassin named Tallis. In her own words, “Tallis is headstrong, she fights dirty, and she has a really sarcastic sense of humor, I wanted to bring a modern sensibility to a fantasy character in a fantasy world.” You mean like Xena?
The opening scene begins in a Chantry prison, where a torturer and an armored man (in the flimsiest armour I have ever seen) are ready to go to work on an elven prisoner. Before they begin, a prison-break occurs. A Qunari mage named Saarebas subdues the torturers with his group of escaped prisoners and magically extracts important information from the imprisoned elf.
Cut to an elf butchering meat. Tallis isn’t actually a butcher, but rather a disgraced agent of the Qunari. She is relieved of meat preparation and tasked with retrieving Saarebas alive. An odd task for an assassin. Since this is her second chance (we are never told what happened the first time), she is reminded that to fail again means her death.
A chance encounter with a wandering tinker, who is being harassed by one of the Chantry prison escapees, brings together Tallis with Cairn, a Templar Knight (the Badly Armoured Man from the opening scene). With both Tallis and Cairn hunting Saarebus, the fight is on to be the one who claims the escapee and finds the information they need. The episode ends with Tallis subduing the lone escapee, learning what she needs to know, and promptly executing him.
The the cinematography (shot in HD) and editing are high-quality for a web-series. Unfortunately, this is the only place the quality shines. The costumes and makeup are laughable low-budget and cheap looking, especially the armor. The script writing is fair with dialogue a bit weak in places. There should have been more time spent on introducing the main characters: Tallis, Cairn, and Saarebus. Maybe it’s because we are not given more time to find out about the characters, in this series, that I find myself not really caring about them. A shame given Felicia’s other series, “The Guild”. It gets us to care about Cyd Sherman (aka Codex) and her other “guildies” almost immediately. Felicia’s acting as Syd Sherman; an awkward, dysfunctional, co-dependent, MMO addict; completely works and is believable and endearing. I find her role as Tallis a bit of a miscast. Even with the constraints of a web-series, one wonders how much better it could have been if they found someone more appropriate for the role.
With Felicia taking on this project and choosing to write, direct, and star as the main character in the series, I can’t help but think that this is a vanity project for her. For Bioware, it feels like a cynical marketing ploy to take a well-known female gamer and exploiting her likeness for the Dragon Age universe. Felicia’s character Tallis also appears in the Dragon Age DLC – Mark of the Assassin.
With this being a “Knights of the Good” production, I was expecting Felicia’s obvious writing skill, excellent casting, and the appeal of “The Guild” would make an appearance here. Ultimately, I am left slightly disappointed. With five more episodes planned, I wonder how the story will unfold and end after this slightly awkward and uneven beginning.