Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 1 review

Dragon Age is a pretty big name in video game rpgs these days. I've never had a chance to work for Bioware, but I've been a fan of their games since Baldur's Gate. They did some great work with the Forgotten Realms setting, and when they started doing original properties, it turned out they had an incredible talent for world building themselves.

This book is as true a testament to that fact as you will find. It is a world guide, a visual encyclopedia and an art book all wrapped up in one beautiful package. Showcasing a great variety of the concept art that went into the games creation, it has an impressive collection of creature designs, and landscape art which illustrate the world of Thedas in all it's gritty detail.

The cultures, the people of the world and its history are all packed in to it's 182 pages with exhaustive complexity, and of course, accompanying art of the high standard which Bioware is known for.

The wonderful chapter openers and religious illustrations are of particular note, as they have a believably medieval, and graphic symbolism that gives the world a unique yet relatable flavor all its own. But the main feature of the book is its environment and character art. Done by many artists in many styles, it achieves a great variety in approach, but all directed with such a singular vision. This is one book that shows the kind of large scale planning and detail required to produce an original franchise and the visual bible they are often built around.

The featured artists contributing to this book include:
Joy Ang
Marc Holmes
Ben Huen
Fran Gaulin
Jae Keum
Sung Kim
Steve Klit
Casper Konefal
Matt Rhodes
Tom Rhodes
Ramil Sunga
Nick Thornborrow