REVIEW – Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third entry in the Dragon Age franchise and seems to course correct a lot of the mistakes made in Dragon Age 2. Which was not well received by fans of Origins, and many considered to be not only streamlined for the casual audience but basically steamrolled everything great about the first entry in this epic RPG franchise. Lack of origin story, only one race to choose from, three classes, and pretty much one main central location. The NPC companions, while some of them had depth, were just lacking compared to Origins.
In comes Dragon Age: Inquisition a hybrid of the concepts featured in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. While DA2 had an identity crisis, DA: I decided to mesh all elements together to create the ultimate RPG experience, and for BioWare to redeem themselves in the eyes of their beloved fans. It is no small feat, but the effort seems to be there. A new threat is here and only the Inquisition can stop it !… but first they will have to pick up mushrooms to gain influence and power! Ohhh.
Into the Breach
After the events of Dragon Age 2, the Templar and Mages are locked in war, and not much seems to be able to stop this senseless violence between the two rival factions. The land is scourged, and the reason hostilities recently ceased is because the leader of the Chantry (A religious organization keeping Thedas together from total annihilation); Divine Justina has called upon The Conclave to try to broker peace at The Temple of Ash. Sadly that ends up in literal smokes, as a giant explosion kills most of the high ranking members of The Chantry. It also causes a giant dimensional gate to appear from the sky that spews demons. Only you survive the blast, and you are thrust into the epic adventure of finding out who caused the terrible demon plague, killed Justina, and also to figure out if you are truly the Herald of Andraste.
The story is a long trek of deceit, war, and the bickering of nobles in a land, but also takes place pretty much on the entire world of Thedas. From The Hinterlands (Snowy Mountains) to a Forbidden Oasis, and to Fallow Mire the environments will add rich depth to a story that is supposed to encompass all of Thedas. Luckily unlike Dragon Age 2, most of the levels we select to venture forth are insanely large – especially in the beginning with The Hinterlands.
Inquisition is filled with so many sub-quests, collectibles, and lore that I was stuck in the beginning area for two days. Even after that, I kept returning as new quests were revealed to me later down the line. It feels like an MMO style game, or something similar to Dragon’s Dogma, where quests would end up being multilayered, and some would even provide positive or negative outcomes to our companions. Speaking of companions, BioWare has done a great job here when it comes to the banter between the NPCs, and they never get stale, since you get to recruit at least around 8-10 allies.
A party is made up of the player and three NPCs, but these can be changed at occasional field tents, where you can also restock supplies. The gameplay allows you to select how characters should act when they should use certain abilities (and which should be the preferred skill), and even when to use a healing potion. You can also switch their weapons out, armor, rings, and other items, and also determine how the allies level up on their skill tree. The game allows you, of course, to automatize this for 99% of the features listed above, but for all you maximalists it is a fun option.
Dragon Age: Inquisition has profound depth in its story and party system, but there are some elements that can be bothersome. The story setup is epic, a giant explosion, you as a lone survivor from a cataclysm that spews forth demons… and everything mentioned just now gets ruined by the pacing. Not only do you have the Chantry, The Mages, and The Templars. You also have four or five different factions, many subquests, and sub-issues that made my head scratch on just how the pacing was ruined with the huge number of characters and subquests. The initial setup is fast, greatly paced, but then you have to mess around with trying to gather allies, resolving two civil wars, and also going on a bunch of sidequests to raise power so that you can advance the plot.
Oh, and you also have objectives on the map which take hours to finish (or half an hour), so that in certain cases can progress with certain sidequests. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a time sink, and if you thought only JRPGs could be that well BioWare decided to one up it. This ends up with a plot that while interesting, rife with conflict, and moral dilemmas, gets shafted due to the pacing, and having to deal with everyone in the world. Sure you are the Herald of Andraste, but my god Humanity is more preoccupied with trying to conquer land then handle the Demon Plague which is mind boggling. On the other hand it might be just my naivity thinking that humanity would unity against such a threat.
The skill tree while great, there is no attribute points to distribute between characters when leveling up. It is just automatically upgraded based on their class and level. Also, the skill trees are barebones, and you can respec at any time between the four or five main trees that each character has. The skills themselves are bit generic, and nothing spectacular. The mages get the usual fire, ice, electric spells, assassin’s get invisibility, and backstabs, while warriors get to charge through enemies to knock them down.
Inquisition feels like a mix of MMORPG amount of quests, but with rather boring skills provided to tackle these enemies and quests.
Shine on you Herald!
Even though Inquisition is a timesink, and it has pacing issues, but by god, this is a crowning achievement from BioWare to bring back the franchise to its epicness. Especially after Dragon Age 2. Here the graphics are exquisite, the levels are huge, and every effect is on part with some of the RPGs even in 2017. The DLCs also setup the sequel in a fantastic way, and are even more focused. If you have the time play Inquisition with the DLCs, you will not regret it that you spent a lot of time in the magical world of Thedas.
+ Great story and interesting characters
+ Superb graphics, and awesome music
+ Neat combat, and lots of customization
– Still lacks some depth for the combat
– Plot pacing is a huge issue
– MMO-like quests might be a problem for some
Publisher: Electronic Arts, BioWare
Developer: BioWare, Electronic Arts
Genre: Action role-playing
Release date: November 18, 2014