Dragon Age: Inquisition

Way late on this one and it wasn’t at all certain that I’d even get around to it. I’d skipped the second game after even if I did like the first one. As I grow older I find myself more and more reluctant to play the big AAA releases. My playthrough was further hampered by the realization that this is really more of an action RPG, that it absolutely requires a gamepad and by the sheer length of the game. I did end up completing it but I’m not sure that it was worth the time.

I found the tactical view to be pretty much impossible to use and so spent the entire game having companions under AI control, switching to them only to order them to drink potions. Even treating it as a pure action RPG, it seems oddly deficient. There are clearly more abilities that can be unlocked than can be readily mapped to a gamepad’s buttons and the skill trees seem shallow. That is, it’s too easy to reach the end of individual trees and you spend points unlocking abilities that you’re not really interested in in order to get to the passives behind them. It feels like really mediocre design.

Pretty much the same goes for the rest of the game in my opinion. The main quest line is decent when it gets going but the side quests are boring and superficial. You still have dumb stuff like fetching flowers to the grave of a loved one and that sort of thing. As usual with these things, the huge variety and number of side quests detracts from the urgency of the main quest. It doesn’t help that the game is filled with collectibles activities: mosaics, shards, landmarks, bottles, even dragons. The last one is particularly funny. The game makes a big deal out of the fact that the big bad is backed up by a dragon but while it’s quite a sight to see one out in the wild the first couple of times, you soon lose your fear of them after killing the first half dozen of them. By the end of the game, fighting one just becomes a big yawn.

I do like the graphics, especially after such a long time playing indie games, and I notice that Bioware has finally nailed good animations. Having gunk and viscera stuck all over you after combat is as dumb as it was but at least the water effects look great. The dialogue is decent and your companions are all rather interesting people. I find that I even rather like exploring the huge levels even if the quick respawns get annoying. Running war operations and building up the Inquisition seems rather entertaining though I feel like it doesn’t really matter and I would be better off playing a browser game for this sort of experience. It feels doubly weird that everyone puts you in charge just because you have a magical mark on your hand. Plus how come the King of Ferelden, Alistair for me since I did play the first game, doesn’t mind you building up what is in effect an independent state within his country?

The most annoying thing is that the game isn’t actively bad. It is pleasant and enjoyable to play. It’s exactly the kind of game in which you can sink countless hours into but none of that time spent will be particularly memorable. The combat is hard enough, at least at hard difficulty, to force you to work for it at times and drink potions, but not so hard that you’re stymied. In other words, it is a terribly videogamey videogame that is the very opposite of art and creativity. In other words, I probably wasted way too much time on this.

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