Dragon Age: Revisiting Solas, and Why He Makes a Fantastic Villain
Solas is a dynamic and well-rounded character that created a strong reaction among fans, dividing them into two camps: Those that want to crack the egg or the madly in love: who hope to save him in the next installment. Hated or not, good character writing evokes emotion, whether it’s positive or negative, and forgotten characters are born from lackluster personalities. It makes perfect sense that Solas stuck out like a sore thumb and why his writing was a caliber above the rest; Bioware was setting him up as the villain of Dragon age 4. What masterful trickery for those that fell in love with him.
See, I am deeply enamored with Bioware, and I’ve been playing their games since I was a teenager. From the feudal era of Jade Empire, to the Sci-fi age of mass effect, they’ve taken me on playable custom adventures for most of my life. My standards for storytelling and personalized experiences were so tainted by this company, that I had a hard time not comparing the drab marriage options in Skyrim to the compelling romance of Bioware’s writing department.
But, enough about my whirlwind love affair with Bioware, the real topic is my experience with Solas: how right it was, but how wrong it actually is from an outside perspective. The best villains, the ones people obsess about and create weird fanfictions around, are dynamic. They have layers, multi-faceted, complicated layers. It’s why we love them; perfection isn’t an attainable standard, and while we all have our issues, vulnerability and fault make us endearing.
When it comes to how the Dread Wolf did take me, being a female elf, it becomes harder to see why Solas is so hated. He saves the Inquisitor after all, and he seems kind (a matter of opinion based on your dialogue choices). In my playthrough, speaking with Solas was like exploring a new world; His knowledge and perspective were fascinating, and I’m a sucker for some well-written prose. His voice acting was also beautifully done, the words just rolled off his tongue, and the accent was gorgeous.
From there, it just went straight downhill. I fell hard and came crashing down, just like any person who chooses the path to pursue Solas. The first kiss was cute and exciting, stolen in a dream, but after that, came the first warning sign that this dream wouldn’t have a happy ending.
A friend of his, a spirit of wisdom, needed help, and being in love makes a person set aside the more pressing matters of demonic intrusion. When Solas and the Inquisitor get to the location, Solas quickly loses his temper. Especially so, at the mages who’ve twisted his friend into a demon of pride. In the end, even if his friend is freed and given peace, his wrath is not entirely over. He turns on the mages meaning to kill them for what they did. At this moment, one may think his anger is justified. They killed his friend after all, but upon closer inspection, Solas is so full of hatred towards anyone without the unique knowledge he alone posses. In other words, he’s got some deep-seated and deadly prejudices.
As the Trespasser DLC reveals: when the Inquisitor first meets Solas, he didn’t even see the beings that inhabited the physical world as people. Sure, the Inquisitor changed that for him, but his path was set before the first rift was even sealed. She didn’t see the racism because she was his race, she didn’t see the dangerous and unflinching beliefs he held because she made those beliefs falter for him, but only for a moment. In the end, he chose his people (the people that have been dead for centuries) over every living being on Thedas.
Now that: is a villain origin story that makes Dragon Age 4 worth the wait. It may be disappointing to move on from the Inquisitor, but everyone knows what’s at stake if Fen Harel should reach his goal and all that he sacrificed to meet this end.