Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) review

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In terms of creating the immersive RPG experience, Bioware just has the knack for creating compelling characters, a fascinating world with its own rich lore and mythology and the talent for telling a straight up solid story.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is high fantasy at its best and its mix of combat, rich conversations and just sheer entertaining soap opera developments makes for a compelling story.

The game world is MASSIVE and Bioware wonderfully capture the scope by presenting various locations, each with their unique flavour and feel.

The desert, the snowy mountains, the dangerous yet beautiful haunted forests or that other stormy jungle area where lightening explodes before your very face – it’s all here and it’s all very VERY big.

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But is it too big? I’m not sure. There are plenty of side quests spread out in these locations but there are certainly areas that feel big and empty, albeit pretty. Sometimes it just feels like size for the sake of size.

Perhaps I’m nit picking there because even in these wide-open spaces, there can be beauty to be found here. What actions occurred at these abandoned temples? How did that statue there come to fall? The land offers up these sights for your mind to ponder – and ponder I did.

Grand fantasy locations don’t really count for much if there isn’t an engaging story to back up what you’re seeing around you and on my end, DA:I crafts a solid fantasy tale. Depending on your playing style, the beginning of your journey might take a good 4 hours to really get going.

That is to say that for the first few chapters of this saga, there’s really no urgency to the story. Sure, the fate of the world hangs in the balance from the opening scene and from there, the story missions chug along with fascinating conversation paths and decision making but for this reviewer, the game starts off stumbling to capture that sense of urgency while making the characters interesting.

After a bit of a stumble and some introductions though, the game raises the stakes and from there on, events in the world and character interaction started to open up and mean a little bit more. After a few hours, I started to actually care about these lovable rogues and mages and their stories.

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Facial animation here is stiff and the smaller moments in the game between characters lose that emotion somewhat. Whatever reason – the engine that the game was developed on – just isn’t at that point where it can capture a laugh or anger or surprise.

That being said, the voice work is fantastic, with each character hitting the notes in their lines perfectly. So, it’s sort of weird when you have an emotionless character model with an expressive voice that captures the emotions that that particular character going through.

Interestingly enough, it’s Freddie Prinze Jr as the frank and hilarious Iron Bull that steals the show amongst the voices here – which is saying a lot considering you’ve got some fabulous voices here like Brian Bloom (Wolfenstein: The New Order) and Claudia Black (Stargate) delivering terrific performances.

But its Freddie Prinze Jr that gets the best lines, be they hilarious or tackling serious issues. I did not know that the man had it in him to transform his voice to push out that deep and gravelly voice, let alone for him to hit those lines wonderfully.

The writing is particularly strong too, whether it be character interactions, the overall main story – which never feels rushed to get to the main plot points – or elements that sees Bioware tackling same-sex relationships or transgender issues. Each character comes with their own fleshed out backstory that – if you bother to go around between side quests and story missions – you’ll see them progress in their own wonderfully written character arc. If you decide to go a bit more, you can romance select characters which unlocks more intimate facts about said character.

In my own experience, I romanced Cassandra and that relationship between her and my character felt like it grew over time, not that it was awkwardly there and then awkwardly sexual.

A new addition to gameplay is the tactical view – an aerial look at the battlefield where you can command characters. It certainly comes in handy in larger battles but I’m just glad you can switch between this mode and third person because I find third person more enjoyable personally.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition is MASSIVE. That probably can’t be said enough because if you’re planning to go into this game – and any fan of fantasy or RPGs definitely should – then you must know, you’ll be in this fictional world for a good while. To put that into perspective, I finally finished the main quest after 40+ hours. If we throw in the generous amount of side quests, that’s 175 hours – and I haven’t done them all!

DA: I is pretty much sees Bioware at their best and refining their errors of the past to put out the RPG that they do so well. With rich storytelling, expansive areas and a generous amount of different and fun side quests to do, the game is a rewarding experience for fantasy fans that is well worth the price of the game.

 

J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

 

 

 

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