Platform Played On: PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: November 18, 2014
This is the re-posting of the Dragon Age Inquisition Review I wrote on my old website. This article was originally posted on April 4, 2018. Enjoy past me’s unedited ramblings!
When I stop and think about it, I’ve been focused on playing the Dragon Age series since June 2017. Wow… Now I can proudly say I’ve beaten all 3 of these glorious games! Each one offers a totally different gameplay experience. Inquisition is big the ol’ open world one with about a million side activities that distracted me from the main plot. When I started this game, I had come right off of beating Dragon Age II (the “too linear” one) for the fourth time so the transition was pretty jarring, to say the least. To be honest, I felt overwhelmed, but once I settled into the controls (and finally left the Hinterlands), I fell in love with this version of Thedas.
How Far I Got
In a mere 118+ hours, I beat the main game with most of the big side activities done; I destroyed all the High Dragons, connected all the Astrarium dots, found all the shards, completed Forbidden Oasis, discovered all the landmarks, and fully explored all the regions. There are no side quests left other the requisition ones, that I can see. Looks like I finished all those too! I’m missing a song, several codex entries, a few mosaic pieces, and some bottles. I have no desire to go find any of those. I think my obsessive completionist disorder is finally cured! Who did I romance? Well, power to those who enjoy the sexy time element of Dragon Age, but Inquisitor Ellen’s not really interested in that stuff. I innocently flirted with Cassandra, Cullen, Josephine, Dorian, Sera, Scout Harding, Iron Bull, and Blackwall (sort of turned relationship, but ended because I didn’t want to kiss him). Tee hee! I loved hanging out on the roof with Sera, drinking and bashing dragons with Iron Bull, and just chatting with all the cool companions and my loyal advisers. Those BFF moments I had with all the characters felt really special to me!
Like the awesome Drakulus warned me, the game’s ending pretty much demanded I purchase the Trespasser DLC so I did (my first separate DLC purchase ever). I will be playing that later and reviewing it separately (Present Me’s Note: Maybe. It’s been a while and I forget A LOT). As cool as these games are, I needed a bit of a BioWare break.
Holy Maker! This game is huge. Like, all caps HUGE. To start off the grand journey, you pick a race (human, dwarf, elf, or qunari), class, gender, and specific specialization. In one of the most intriguing video game openings I’ve seen, your character is lost in a strange place when the creation screen pops up. You get to tweak the appearance of your character before you’re set loose on Thedas. As per usual, I rolled a boring two-handed human warrior named Ellen, complete with rocking pink face tattoos (pink hair STILL isn’t an option, by the way). Your poor character soon finds themselves being interrogated by two familiar, and very angry, women (Cassandra and Leliana, the right and left hands of a fallen Divine).
The game’s main objective? You are the sole survivor of a massive explosion that wiped out the Conclave (a meeting to broker peace between Templars and mages), killed Divine Justinia (the lady pope of the Chantry, a big religious organization in Thedas), and spawned a huge rift in the sky that is threatening to destroy everything. The Chantry is falling apart and Seeker Cassandra has called an Inquisition, focusing only on fixing the rift in the sky (and ignoring religious politics). With a weird glowing hand that can close smaller rifts, your character will become a big part of the Inquisition movement. Dismissed as a bumbling group of heathens and heretics by most Chantry followers, it takes time and hard work to turn the Inquisition into a powerful force on Thedas. While building the movement, it’s easy to lose sight of the Inquisition’s main mission – uncover the truth about what happened at the Conclave and save Thedas from the unknown force that threatens to destroy everything.
And that’s my biggest problem with Dragon Age Inquisition; the main objective quickly became lost in a sea of side activities. The main missions are filled with many epic moments, but I had to wade through swarms of side content to get to them. I’ll admit I have an obsessive desire to side quest so I spent my first 15 hours wandering around in the Hinterlands, the starting area (and the biggest of all the areas), almost burning myself out right at the start. There’s a ton of collectibles, a simplistic equipment upgrade/crafting system that needs plenty of resources gathered, demon-spewing rifts to seal, a “make someone do this and wait so many real world hours” style activity, and you can even judge certain captive enemies in harsh and hilarious ways. Defined side quests seem to pop up every few steps while out in the world. Also, watch out for sudden dragon boss encounters while out exploring (Inquisitor Ellen got toasted by surprise once or twice). All things considered, the swarm of side activities didn’t feel totally meaningless to me. Each side thing you do awards reputation for the Inquisition, making it seem like every bit of effort is worth something. Plus, I like helping people!
New areas are unlocked via War Table missions back at your base. Each time you enter a new area, you get to have a fun chat with the best most awesome dwarf character ever: Scout Harding (voiced by the super amazing Ali Hillis, aka Lightning Farron). Character interactions and background stories were definitely my favourite part of this game. The dialog options felt a little limited (I wanted more sarcasm, like Dragon Age II’s Hawke level sarcastic), but I enjoyed the scenes and my choices seemed to have an impact on the conversation. My biggest complaint is that although you can gain reputation with companions, there’s nowhere to see your current approval rating with someone. Like, I’m pretty sure Vivienne hated me (I wasn’t a fan of the old school Templar/mage system), but I have no idea. When I wasn’t talking to all the cool people, I was wandering around aimlessly and bashing in skulls. The combat controls are more real time than the previous Dragon Age games (giving me quite the learning curve), but there is an option to slow things down with the tactical camera view.
The environments and character models in this game are simply gorgeous! Armor looks so polished, facial expressions are flawless (Inquisitor Ellen’s cranky face was awesome), and the natural scenery is oh so pretty! I was shocked by the awesome lightning storm effects in a few areas, but oceanic water effects left A LOT to be desired. I wouldn’t mind actually living in the rugged wilderness area of the Hinterlands. Honestly, it felt like I did live there for a while… But yeah, I also LOVE the improvements they made to the dwarf and qunari models. There were some minor glitches that irked me a tad. Clipping happened sometimes during cutscenes (especially noticeable during a big dance number in the Winter Palace area). I also ran into a few loot items and a book I couldn’t interact with in the environment. These weren’t game breaking items or anything, but annoying nonetheless.
The audio is amazing, and ANY game with Ali Hillis as a voice actress gets full points in that department from me. The music during main quests is very inspiring, but a little lacking while out exploring the big open areas. I’m not ashamed to say the title screen theme music has moved me to tears a few times, especially when various versions of it pop up in the world.
My Overall Biased Opinion
It’s clear that BioWare took the Dragon Age II criticism to heart and made Inquisition a little too bloated in a knee jerk reaction. The game sort of feels like a single player MMO (like World of Warcraft without the drama of interacting with other people). I enjoyed slowly exploring the areas at my own pace, and it was relaxing to let myself get lost in the lands. Each one of the million side quests I conquered (I’m exaggerating) made it feel like I was making a difference in this world, but those constant distractions also made me lose a connection to the main story, making the final showdown a lot less epic in my mind.
Overall, I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants a wonderful open world to explore (just don’t do EVERYTHING in the Hinterlands at once, like I did). Spending time with the interesting characters and getting to know them was the highlight of this game for me. It was all about fighting together with my friends, not worrying about reaching a conclusion with the big bad I had all but forgotten about.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This section of my video game reviews is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
I covered most of what happened to my Inquisitor in a letter to the mighty WordPress Goddess of Wisdom. Here’s what happened at the end of my game (which was narrated by everyone’s favourite wisecracking witch, Morrigan):
- The breach in the sky is finally closed for good. All that remains is a scar in the sky to remind everyone how awful Cory-shite was (I love Sera, by the way).
- Celene stayed Empress of Orlais. The only reason she’s still in power is because of her close ties to the Inquisition. To be honest, I’m not sure how I ended up supporting her… but oh well! The “oafish” Inquisitor Ellen barely made it through the Winter Palace without going on some sort of spree, so I’m grateful for that at least.
- Grey Wardens are rebuilding after the stupid incident where they were all turned into demon-summoning puppets by Corypheus. There are rumors of internal power issues, and no one has heard from Hawke in a while. Hm. DLC things, maybe?
- Cassandra became Divine Victoria. I liked Leliana’s all inclusive vision for the Chantry much better, but Cassandra got it somehow. Cassandra will be a good Divine too so I’m not upset or anything. She reformed everything (new Templar order, new Circle of Magi, and the Seekers actually protect the innocent again). Although she’s popular, some people have issues with her changes. Go figure! Religious organizations sure are resistant to change, eh?
- The old Templars (that I sided with accidentally, I swear) are following Cullen’s good example and trying to kick their lyrium habit. They decide to stay with my Inquisition movement and not return to the Chantry. Well, I guess Inquisitor Ellen will let them stay. They seem decent now.
- Inquisitor Ellen is seen as a “leader of the changing world order” and mighty commander of a huge army people respect (I’m super flattered!!). BUT some people are waiting in the shadows to attack her… Pfft, good luck with that. Oh and Morrigan left, again.
Favourite Story Moment
Learning that Flemeth was freaking elf god Mythal, and then my jaw dropped when it was revealed Solas was the Dread Wolf after the credits. I suspected he was some sort of powerful dreamer mage, but wow… There’s some serious things going on with the old elven gods and I need to learn moar! The whole Corypheus conclusion was sort of meh to me. He was just the run-of-the-mill immortal idiot seeking to ascend to godhood and throw the world into chaos. I hope he stays trapped in Fade land forever.
I put Inquisitor Ellen on the Reaver path. She was a bloodthirsty dragon slayer with a heart of gold, so it seemed like a good fit for her! The ability called Dragon-rage that I picked up in the Reaver tree was awesome. I loved using it to tear through my many enemies. RAWR!
Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment
Oh Maker, poor Leliana. She is definitely the one of the most interesting characters with a carefully crafted evolution across the Dragon Age series. The part where she slit her former friend’s throat because she was a traitor to the Inquisition was just a wow, OMG moment! I was honestly horrified during the scene. The evils of the world, combined with all the crap Leliana has been through, have certainly left their mark on the once blissful bard. That’s life though. It’s not fair and you have to make tough choices for the greater good. Leliana feels like her duty as a Spymaster is to take care of business no one else has the stomach for, detaching herself from the caring heart she’s learned to hide well. Still… yikes!
Emerald Graves – A beautiful jungle environment with lush trees and relaxing scenery, and also very amusing names for areas. I think Sunleth Waterscape from Final Fantasy XIII finally has a rival for my ideal video game retirement destination…
Uh, there’s no way I can pick one person as my favourite. They are all freaking awesome friends and I love them all like family! Solas with his wise elf ways, Vivienne who cared so deeply for the man she loved, Blackwall who lied about his true criminal identity but wanted to be a better person, Cassandra the closet romance novel lover, Sera the cranky and sarcastic best friend I always wanted, Iron Bull the badass leader the Chargers, Cole the Spirit of Mercy who struggled with the dark side of empathy, Varric the awesome writer and red lyrium smasher, Dorian who seems arrogant but actually cares about the world a great deal. Oh and NONE of this would have been possible without my awesome advisers Josephine, Leliana, and Cullen… Excuse me. I’ve got something in my eye.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
The side activities in the last area I explored (Emprise Du Lion). I was finally reaching my burnout point and just wanted to kill Corypheus already, not smash through a million meaningless Red Templars in another snowy climate.
Most Memorable Friend Moment
At some point during your journey, Varric may pull you aside and you get to watch an amusing scene where your character plays a friendly game of Wicked Grace (like Poker) with several companions. This entire scene got me right in the feels. The close friendships displayed during the not-so-friendly card game were just awesome… sniffs. Josephine being an expert at the game, Cullen losing all his clothes… and finally, I just about lost it when Sera was shown waking up under the table after everyone left (she was never shown in the scene prior to that moment). Maker, I love these characters!
Total playtime: 118 hours 30 minutes
Inquisition level: 17
Inquisitor Ellen’s level: 24
EA Origin Achievements: 45/50
Origin Points: 835/1000
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡
If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!