I originally wanted to start this review calling dragon age Inquisition a surprise hit, but I’d be a damn liar. I loved the first one and the writing of the second, but in retrospect I guess I should have been a little worried. Bioware don’t exactly have the best track record for knowing what to do with the third game in a series.
Or rather, they didn’t.
Inquisition is absolutely everything a Dragon Age: Sequel should be. It’s bigger, for a start, both in terms of geography and effect. As a medieval RPG, it’s brilliant, and a more enjoyable game that I was expecting. Crucially, there’s more to do than ever before. For starters, you can fucking jump and walk up inclines now, gods be praised and the world’s been expanded to the extent where riding a horse about is more than just a cut-scene endeavor, but much needed option for managing the sheer size of the areas. Considering both Prequels were mostly set in dusty corridors, adding a bit of space to the setup is pretty much a necessity at this point. They’re also full of stuff to do, and while usually this would make a game feel cluttered, I found myself strangely compelled to chase down all the little sidequests just for the crafting materials and the promise of secrets and gear. Somehow the collection of herbs, animal skins and metal doesn’t just feel like a list of chores. Partially because you’ll find plenty through normal gameplay but mostly because the world’s so damn interesting to explore, even if it does occasionally screw you over.
One memorable detour saw me fact to face with a drake and, just when victory seemed within my grasp, a fucking dragon the size of a cathedral swooped in and detonated my entire party with a fireball. I could be mad, but I don’t want anything to get in the way of a world where dragons can just fucking happen like that. As Ben Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve to be shat out by a wyvern.”
and even whe the sky’s clear of lizards, moving about is a risky buisness. as set up in the previous games, there’s a war on between mages and templars, so stumbling into skirmishes between the two groups is so common that after a while you start wondering where they’re all coming from, and how to stop it
Because that’s your job, really.
The titular inquisition is the organization you end up stuck to, and as such giving orders and seeking support turns out to be a pretty big deal. I don’t want to spoil anything because, you, personally, should play this game, but the combination of a faster paced combat system and more colorful, interesting characters to fight with and against makes this basically unmissable.
They even go out of their way to give your character a reason to go out into the field to punch people personally, by making him essentially Jesus, if Jesus’ power was that he could heal holes in the fucking sky. I found myself a little confused by the religious angle at first, until I realised I could be a seven foot tall ox horned mage messiah that walked around insisting that I wasn’t actually the messiah and the whole situation became hilarious.
All in all it’s almost perfect. The combat’s fixed from the second, (though pausing and unpausing combat seems to be less a focus than ever now) and the plot, what of it I’ve seen, is far more interesting than a game with this many branching paths has any right to be.
It’s pretty much exactly what I was imagining the future of gaming would look like while I was playing Balder’s Gate 2 as a kid, and I can’t fucking tell you how many bodies I surrendered to Khorne in prayer that I’d one day get to say that.
(Admittedly, when I was sundering bodies I was ten, so the soul harvest was three half-melted action men and a knock-off Pound Shop Optimus Prime, but to me it was a weighty burden to bear.)
There’s just one problem, and boy howdy is it a fucker.
Does anyone else remember horse armour? Of course you do, it was they watershed moment for shitty DLC’s in videogames, the point we can point to when Oblivion took it too far and tried to charge you for something so stupid and trite as a small visual tweak to the characters horse. People yelled a bit, everyone agreed it was stupid, and the world moved on.
Except it fucking didn’t, did it? Because the deluxe edition of DA I is the only way to the get the goddamn armoured horse. And while I know it’s stupid to complain about, this isn’t what bothered me. The fact that I’d have to pay an extra £10 to get an armoured horse is just another reason we shouldn’t buy deluxe editions. No, because the deluxe edition also comes with the bog unicorn, which is a ridable zombie horse with a sword through its skull like a unicorn’s horn, and that’s all I want to fucking ride right now. It’s bullshit, because obviously no matter what happens they’re not going to top that, and it seems ludicrous to me that I’ll never get to own one just because I didn’t want to spend £60 fucking quid (or a hundred fucking dollars, give or take) to go large on a fucking videogame.
Stop buying deluxe editions, goddamnit. You’re only encouraging prickery.
DRAGON AGE: Inquisition
Released: November 18th 2014
Score: 8/9 Hammers