Video Games: Romances That are Better Than Cullen’s

Screenshot of Solas and an Inquisitor from ‘Dragon Age Inquisition’. Copyright goes to BioWare.

Hey! Hallie here!

Dragon Age Day just happened and the fanbase learned a few important things while it was happening. One is that some of the lead writers, such as Mark Darrah, decided to retire from BioWare. Another was that Cullen’s voice actor, Greg Ellis, is a complete jerk. Not only did he attack Mark Darrah for being “fake”, he also heavily implied that Darrah was forced to resign for his conduct, with no evidence to support his claims. Pretty instantly both BioWare fans and Darrah’s former co-workers jumped to his side, but that didn’t stop Ellis from starting a full-on twitter war. Around this time is when fans who hadn’t been following Greg Ellis, such as myself, were quickly informed that he is also a Trump supporter and a transphobe. By the end of the day, it was pretty clear Greg Ellis wouldn’t be coming back to the series. On top of that, Mark Darrah implied that there would be no story for Cullen in the future anyway, so it seems that he won’t be recast. It felt very much like the entire character of Cullen was ending on a particularly sour note. As someone who loved Cullen’s romance in ‘Dragon Age Inquisition’, I’m pretty sad. But to be honest, while Cullen is a handsome guy, there are other romances that are even better than his. Here’s a few romances that make Cullen’s look a bit bland. SPOILERS ahead.

Dorian: There’s nothing to dislike here. I mean, it’s Dorian. He’s probably the most charming character I’ve ever encountered in a video game. Dorian is a gay man, so, naturally, you can only romance him if you’re playing a male character. Even if you aren’t, though, you’ll get some of his trauma. He’s a mage from Tevinter, which is known for it’s hierarchy of mages and it’s pretty bad treatment of, well, everyone else. Dorian’s family is pretty far up on the food chain, but that also means arranged marriages are normalized in the hopes of pairing skilled mages together to create even more powerful mages. When Dorian refused to marry the woman chosen for him, his father became angry. So angry, in fact, that he attempted to use blood magic on Dorian to basically brainwash him into being straight. Dorian was both horrified and devastated when he learned the truth, causing him to run away from his family and question Tevinter’s traditions. When you romance him, you realize he’s pretty strongly affected by this trauma. When you first start pursuing the relationship, Dorian is all too happy to play along. He’s naturally flirtatious and appreciates when other people appreciate his good looks. However, as the relationship gets more serious, he becomes more hesitant. He reveals that most of his previous relationships operated under the understanding that everything was temporary because of his arranged marriage, and he fears the player character will leave him when they get the chance. It’s a heartbreaking revelation, but it’s incredibly heartwarming to work through it with him and eventually convince him that you aren’t going anywhere.

Josephine: Josephine’s romance is probably the most entertaining of any romance in ‘Dragon Age’. She’s also bisexual, which means that any Inquisitor of any gender can romance her if they wish. Josephine is all about business. Her family is powerful, known for it’s large naval presence and trading. Josephine acts as a diplomat for the player character, but her upbringing in the family company causes her to seem pretty strict. All until you start flirting with her. She’s quite innocent, causing Leliana to be protective of her immediately after you romance her. But she’s also easily flustered and adorably excited by every romantic gesture. Her entire romance is pretty pure. Everything comes to a halt, though, when yet another arranged marriage comes into play. Josephine’s parents arrange an engagement behind her back while she’s working for the player as part of the Inquisition. She attempts to get out of it, but eventually you have to arrange a duel with her new fiancé to prove you’re worthy of her. The duel is full of witty banter and a lot of showmanship. And, of course, it all ends with you winning the duel and a kiss. After Josephine scolds you for dueling her fiancé without her knowledge, that is.

Fenris: Here we have the first romance that isn’t from ‘Inquisition’. I’m of the party that believes ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ was BioWare at their best when it comes to romances. But that doesn’t mean Fenris didn’t steal my heart. Fenris is also bisexual, so any character of any gender can romance him. The only issue here is you have to be prepared for some heartbreak. Fenris is a former elven slave from Tevinter who hates mages. Which isn’t surprising considering he came from Tevinter. His master experimented on him, infusing his skin with Lyrium to create markings that gave him powers connected to the Fade. Unfortunately, this also caused him to lose most of his memories, leaving him only with memories of the horrible treatment he received as a slave. It isn’t surprising he’s so jaded with the player character, Hawke. But if you flirt with him enough and avoid mentioning mages in his presence, he’ll eventually warm to the idea of a relationship. Soon after you start the relationship, however, he’ll admit that he’s starting to regain memories of his past. While this might sound like a good thing, they are very painful for him and he decides he isn’t ready for a relationship. Don’t give up hope just yet, though! This game includes a time skip, and once a few years pass, Fenris will confess that he still has feelings for Hawke.

Solas: Speaking of heartbreak. This romance isn’t for anyone who wants a happy ending. Solas is the main villain of the next game, after all. Solas will only date elven women, so you have to get specific at character creation for this route. Solas first enters the Inquisition as a mage with a wide knowledge of the Fade. He’s pretty closed off about his past, but he’s easy to talk to. He’s wise, caring, and he loves curiosity. He’s pretty vocal about the slavery of elves to the point that he brings it up almost constantly, but you can understand his frustrations. When you romance him he’s sweet and respectful. But he’s hesitant. He constantly switches between embracing a relationship or completely pushing the player away. Eventually, he’ll break off the relationship, apologize, and refuse to explain himself. After the entire game is over, Solas disappears. When he reappears in the Trespasser DLC, he reveals himself to be Fen’harel, the trickster god of the elven pantheon. He isn’t actually a god, none of the gods were much more than egotistical war generals, but he is a survivor of the ancient elves. He was labeled a trickster god by the other generals after he decided to help the elves who had been enslaved by them. Eventually these generals created so much harm that he decided to lock them inside the Fade, along with pretty much all of ancient elven culture. When he awoke centuries later, he discovered that his people were still enslaved and devoid of knowledge about their past. They had even started using old slave tattoos as coming-of-age markings. Solas reveals that he is so distraught by this that he’s going to release the contents of the Fade back into the world, effectively destroying it and replacing it with the forgotten world of the ancient elves. Whether you try to talk him out of it or not, he will kiss the player, apologize one last time, and disappear. Prepare the tissues.

That’s it! There are plenty of other good romances in this series, but these four in particular leave me pretty emotional. They also have nice, interesting storylines that lead to some thought provoking scenes. I’m not saying the writing for Cullen or his romance is bad. It really isn’t. But after hearing about all of the sick videos Greg Ellis filmed in character of Cullen saying some pretty awful things, I don’t think I can look at the character the same way. If you still love the character, feel free to keep romancing him. He is much more than just his voice actor. But if you’re not quite willing to get back to his romance after this, I hope I helped you see that he isn’t your only option. There are plenty of sweet, interesting, and exciting plot lines to explore in Thedas.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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