One of great things about the I’ll Review Anything is the freedom to review… anything. It could be something really in vogue like a movie that was just released. It could be something really stupid and nonsensical. You can also review something really old and something that you just wasn’t interested in until much later. Case-in-point: this week, I’m reviewing a game that was released a whole three years ago, Dragon Age: Inquisition, just because I just finished playing it during the holiday break. And I just have to say, I loved playing this relatively old game.
I was actually really intimidated of playing this game for the simple reason that I’ve never played a Dragon Age game before. I was going in blind without any prior knowledge to the world of Thedas and its history and, with a game that’s supposed to have some connections with the previous installments, I feared I would get lost in the story. I did manage to play catch up for the most part but I know that, even after playing the game for more than 120 hours and going through all of the missions, which is a boatload since I got the Game of the Year Edition which came with all of the DLC campaigns, there were still huge gaps in my knowledge of the grand story that is Dragon Age. However, even though I was still grasping at a lot of missing story elements, I still understood the basic plot just fine.
From what I could understand, prior to the game’s beginning, the mages wanted their freedom from the government so they rebelled. This led to a huge civil war between the mages and the templars, who used to keep the mages in check. A ceasefire was declared and a peace conference was arranged by Divine Justinia, who is the head of the Chantry (church of the world of Thedas). During the peace talks, a huge explosion occurs, killing most of the higher ups of the mages, templars and the Chantry. The explosion manages to create rifts which are leaking out demons. Your character was then spotted emerging from the “main” rift with a mark on his/her hand that has the power to close these rifts. This leads to Cassandra and a band of other battle ready fellow to create the Inquisition, a group that is dedicated to closing all the rifts and investigate who caused the explosion.
If I’m missing out anything, then I apologize. Like I said, I never played any of the earlier entries in EA and BioWare’s series before so I might be missing some really key details. But even I know that summary above barely scratches the surface of all of the other stories in the world of Dragon Age. Throughout my entire playthrough, the characters and notes mentions things like the First Blight, the Tevinter Imperium, the Qun Empire, lyrium addiction, the Seekers, the war at Kirkwall, Dalish elves, the Deep Roads and many more. Even the game’s main villain is apparently from an earlier game of the series!
There’s a lot to keep track of in Dragon Age: Inquisition and I’m fairly positive a lot of it went over my head because this was my first entry to the series. I don’t think that missing any of these elements put a damper of my enjoyment for the game but I have the sneaking suspicion that I would have enjoyed a lot of these callbacks if I knew they were callbacks.
Like most BioWare games, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a more open-ended action-adventure game. You still recruit party member, allocate skill points when you level up your character and equip better weapons and armor throughout the game. But, like in BioWare’s other games like Mass Effect, you have a lot of control regarding how your character shapes the world. At the start, you’re given the option to create your character and I decided to create a female elf warrior because I thought it would be interesting. And, like in other BioWare games, I was totally clueless on how to make my character look like a gollum. It was possible and, yeah, I just copied the best looking one… which I think everyone else did.
Besides the character creation, you do have a hand in molding the events of the game. You can choose what paths to take, groups to recruit and even underhandedly choose who will rule of Thedas. While you would think this would impact the overall story, it really doesn’t in the grand scheme of things. The story will go pretty much in the same direction with only maybe a few minor alterations. I guess these choices will impact future games, though. The main thing I was more concerned with was how these choices would impact my approval rating of my party members. Honestly, it was kind of daunting at times to talk to even some of your party members because it’s so easy to say the wrong thing and get your approval down. Thankfully, you do get a hang of saying the right and wrong things once you understand their personalities. However, I do feel like a big liar at times since I was so desperately seeking a good approval rating from them instead of being honest. Maybe I could’ve learned all of these things if I read all of those in-game texts the game threw at me… but that would be ridiculous and tedious!
The continent of Thedas is large with different kinds of regions and climates and BioWare did a fantastic job of bringing these territories to life. There’s a lot of places and regions to explore and no two areas feel similar enough that it felt like EA ordered them to recycle some of them to save money. There were more than a couple of desert and forest locations but they still felt very distinct from each other. Each place also looks gorgeous and detailed as all the places I visited looked rather lived in. The only real problem I have with some of the dungeons were that the layouts can feel be confusing as they are multi-tiered areas. It can be bothersome to find the right “floor” to unlock a region on the map.
Not only is Thedas large, it’s also filled with a lot of sidequests and missions. Some of them are enjoyable, like the one where you have to line up constellations to unlock a cave with goodies. Others, like the requisitions miniquests and the one where you have to hunt for magic shards, just felt repetitive. The requisitions quest is probably one of the dumbest miniquests in any game, in my opinion, because why do I, the leader of a vast army like the Inquisition, have to go hunt for 10 pieces of Iron and 10 Elfroots myself? Those things are strewn all over the area right next to the camp! What am I paying you scouts for, anyway?
While I enjoyed a lot of my 120 plus hours playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, there was one thing that I didn’t like all that much. Take note that I said “I didn’t like” and not “I hated” because that’s an important distinction. Anyway, the thing I didn’t like about my time with the game was actually be combat system. There are two ways to actually do battle and both of them have their issues.
The first one is a more arcade-y feel where you control one of the four members in your party while the computer controls the other three. This was the system I played with the most as it was the easiest one to get a grasp on since I was playing on the PS4 version of the game. The biggest problem is that combat felt so repetitive. Most of the time, I was just holding down the R2 button to hack and slash my opponent and then using a couple of my skills once they became active for big damage or to knock foes down to the floor. It hardly felt tactical and, while the AI for my companions did well for the most part, they were generally idiots as they didn’t know when to back off or activate defensive spells. There were so many times my rogue archers, Sera and Varric, would get pummeled by warriors and stupidly stand their ground instead of retreating away!
The second mode is a more tactical format but can be extremely tedious and slow because you’ll have to pause the game often to enter commands and move the characters to the places to be effective. This isn’t that much of a problem by itself but, since there is a lot of combat, battles will take much longer than they should. Also, the camera using this mode is terrible! It’s difficult to zoom in and out or get the camera angled in such a way that you can see the entire area or position it so that you can see your enemies.
In the long run, however, the not so excellent combat system is a minor gripe, considering that the rest of Dragon Age: Inquisition is almost perfect. If you haven’t got the game then because it was too expensive, it’s really cheap now (which is the primary reason why I purchased it from the PSN Store). If you haven’t played a Dragon Age game and that’s your primary reason for not getting it, well, I haven’t and I still loved it to bits! It’s a great purchase and, if you’re looking for that one game that’s really epic and will have your playing for ages, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a great buy.
What do you think of Dragon Age: Inquisition? Let me know in the comments section below!