In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you take on the role of the Inquisitor. You’re a nameless hero, that’s chased by a demonic horde and aided by a ghostly apparition. Everything goes black. You wake up in an interrogation room, for the crime of destroying an entire sect of mages. Specifically, a group that was meeting to ensure peace, led by Divine Justinia. You’ve been charged with their deaths.
En route to be sentenced, monsters from the Fade fall from the sky and start slaughtering soldiers and peasants alike. Oh, for the uninitiated, the Fade is basically the netherworld, where ghosts, demons, and other abominations reside. The Veil separates the the real world from the Fade. There’s a rip in the Veil, allowing demonic forces to fall into the world of Thedas. You take up arms, are set free, and Inquisition begins. All that’s known is that you bear a strange tattoo that allows you to close other, smaller Breaches. The only one with the power to close the tear between worlds, you lead a band of unlikely allies in a quest to do the impossible: close the Veil, and seal the Fade completely.
As the Inquisitor, you first begin by creating your character. The majority of what you can choose are facial and hair aesthetics, race, and class. After you craft your hero, you are thrown into the chaotic world of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
You have the ability to close rifts. These battle sequences involve green, shatterered-type gems that hang in the air. They unleash green light which spawn various creatures, from ghostlike ice wizards to faceless horrors bathed in fire. Using your tattoo your goal is to steal power from the crystal, which has a red health bar in the top right corner of the screen. Each time you drain a portion of power, it stuns the baddies, and allows you to regroup, revive party members, heal, or get some good blows in before the Fade Breach can reset itself.
Fighting along side you, in the beginning, are Cassandra, a female warrior with a sword & shield, and Solas, a renegade mage –or Apostate– that believes in you and your power to close the Veil. As with any other RPG, you will meet new and interesting people that will eventually become key members of the Inquisition. You can choose up to 3 companions to follow you into battle, quests, and increasing the territory of the Inquisition. Throughout the game, you’ll be able to talk and influence different members of your party, based on the decisions you make. And, depending on what you decide, you can also become romantically linked to a specific member of your party. If you play your cards right. Based on your performance, and the choices you make, the story will unfold differently. Choices matter.
Aside from closing Fade Breaches, and fighting off waves of demons and armed soldiers, you also have nearly free roaming rights to the entire world of Thedas. Specifically, Fereldan and Orlais. You start your quest in the Hinterlands. As you progress you open new areas in both Orlais sand Ferelden.
You will frequently visit the War Table. This is where your generals (Cullen, Leliana, and Josephine) will meet in order to strategize your next move. The War Table gives you a full perspective on Ferelden and Orlais. You’ll be able to set pieces, like a board game, to fulfill certain events, move the story forward, or open more of the world in order to explore unreachable places.
World Building in Inquisition is top notch. It’s what you’d expect from a Bioware game, and this Dragon Age does not disappoint. They are truly masters of crafting story and characters. The amount of lore, history, and information in this game is overwhelming, in an awe inspiring way. Everything, from the levels, to the way characters speak, to even the loading screens, and the way the people of Thedas interact is steeped in lore. It’s magnificent.
Character Interactions are amazing. When I first saw the roster of companions for Inquisition, I have to admit I was disappointed. I wanted past characters to return. And aside from the inclusion of Varric (Leliana doesn’t count because she’s unplayable, and I barely remember Cullen from the first two games, so? Yeah.) the roster is completely new.
But wow! Bioware did it again, creating characters that are not only memorable, but that are fun, interesting, completely unique, and full of life. Oh my gosh, the dialogue! The quips and short moments of dialogue, especially during random adventuring is one of my favorite aspects of the game. My favorite characters, by far, are Sera, Dorian, and Iron Bull. The banter between them is the best!
I love the open world feel of this game. Inquisition is massive. There’s so much to search and explore. Each area is unique in concept and design. You’ll never feel like you’re exploring a rehash of the last level, and there’s a critical attention to small details, like the simple buzzing of flies, that add another depth to the immersion.
Speaking of traveling, mounts were a wonderful addition. With so much territory to cover, I always found myself calling forth a steed, or horned elk, or dragon-thingy, since walking eventually becomes too slow. You need speed to traverse this monstrous amount of landscape! The ability to ride swift creatures makes travel less of a chore. Plus, they look pretty cool, and make some really neat sounds.
Combat is visceral and intuitive. I feel like it strikes a nice balance between the first and second Dragon Age games. It allows you to be technical and methodical, like the original Dragon Age, while retaining the fast paced, almost action-esque, play style of Dragon Age II. Battles are quick, allowing the ability to freeze combat at any moment, change party members, and issue orders, all on the fly.
Despite all my praise, Inquisition is far from perfect. For one, everything takes too long to load. I feel like I spent a lot of time staring at load screens. You can read cards with lots of lore and information in the beginning of the load, but then it switches to a black screen with only a flashing icon. I would have appreciated it if, since loads are so long, you could simply read the cards for the whole loading sequence. However, there’s a lot to do between each load, so it isn’t terrible, but you will notice them.
Common glitches, like Druffalo getting stuck in the rocks during an escort mission, or characters sliding into the floor, are rampant in this game. I mean, it doesn’t render the game unplayable, but it was hard not to notice them. I also got stuck in some scenery, had characters hovering in the air, had portals not load the next wave of enemies, my mount sticking to rocks or galloping over nothing, and on and on.
Now, while these glitches are noticeable, but not at all game breaking, there were also some terrible crashes. There were moments in the game where it would just freeze. And I don’t mean pause for a second. I mean the game would crash my console, and force me to hard reset the entire system. This was probably one of the most annoying things about playing Inquisition. Especially when I was in the middle of a quest, or just finishing one. Seriously, when a game forces you to reset the system, it’s not a good sign. There were moments that I almost rage quit the whole game because of this.
The inclusion of past characters was also an issue, for me. Or lack there of. This isn’t really a strike against the overall game, but just a personal grievance. Now, while I praise its story, characters, dialogue, and world building, I wish that there were more appearances from the original cast, instead of small cameos. I looked forward to spending more time with Merrill, Anders, Fenris, Zevran, Wynne, and especially Alistair and Morrigan. By spend time, I mean in my party. I really wanted form up and wreak some havoc with them. The new characters are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but it would have been nice to have more than one character from the previous games join the Inquisition.
Another issue was the mini map. It’s helpful to a point, but I didn’t like how you couldn’t see the terrain. It made it difficult to navigate, since you really couldn’t tell if there was a rock, or a mountain coming up. I always found myself reopening the main map in order to make sure I was even heading in the right direction.
Lastly, not being able to search while on your mount. It was always a chore to get off in order to find or pick up objects. Being able to do that while on horseback would have been nice. It isn’t that much of a hassle, but when there’s so much to find and pick up, stopping to get off the horse to search, loot, and then get back on only to jump back off after a few steps got frustrating. It really made me not want to ride.
While I feel like I am playing the less impressive version of the game on the PS3 (since the visuals are phenomenal on Next Gen consoles) I’m glad that I was able to return to the world of Thedas at all. I appreciate that Bioware even took the time to remember the last gen owners, instead of making it for new systems, only. With the last console generation of new games slowly disappearing, I’m grateful.
In the end, Dragon Age Inquisition is a good game. The World is enormous, you have the freedom to travel more than you have in previous titles, and the lore is rich in everything you find, read, and touch. It can get a bit overwhelming, but in a very good way. There is a lot of content to enjoy, and the game can take you more than 40 hours to beat. Even more if you decide to do the dizzying myriad of quests the game has to offer.
There are a few glitches here and there, some game crashes that require you to reset your system, but that’s still not enough to recommend not trying this game. If you’re a fan of the previous Dragon Age installments, you owe it to yourself to return and take a journey with the Inquisition.