“The following is a guest post by The Midnight Mystic Mage.”
“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.”
Dragon Age: Inquisition was named Game of the Year by many when it was released. Game Informer, IGN, Polygon, The Escapist, DICE, & many more. It is undoubtedly one of the best games I have had the pleasure of playing, and does so well at continuing the Dragon Age series, making it comfortable to players who are new to the series, but also doing a fantastic job of calling back to earlier games for players who are fans of the first two.
I have played all of the Dragon Age games now, and was very intrigued by how they decided to work the past story into the newest edition. You can actually go online and enter in all of the choices that you made in the previous games, so that the world that you are playing in is exactly as it would be. They introduced a dazzling lineup of fresh faces, but also had the tried and true characters that fans of the series love. The features, stunning graphics, and incredible lore and story make this one of the finest video game experiences available today.
So you can create whatever type of character you like, I was an Elven Warrior of the Dalish this time around. The mechanics of battle took some getting used to, but run very smoothly once you get into the groove. There is a new feature that allows you to stop time and plan out your party’s attacks. I have yet to use this system other than to learn how it works but I can see how it would be advantageous if used against a formidable opponent. You will always have a party of 4 that you are able to change between and use as you like. You will also be able to customize every character from their armor to their weapons, accessories, and abilities. You will gain many allies throughout your journey, who will in turn become playable in your party, or help you in some other way at your main base.
Your character notices a green mark on their hand, which is referred to as the anchor, it begins to act very strangely and you eventually realize that it is a type of key to the Fade. There are huge rips in the Fade, which is a type of void or land of spirits, found all over the land that you are able to help close off by defeating the demons and other enemies that protect them and then proceeding to use the mark. The evil Corypheus is determined to become a god and not allow you to stop his path of chaos and destruction. The people begin to refer to you as the Herald of Andraste, a type of savior sent from the Maker. They believe this because of the Anchor and how you are able to close these deadly rifts in the fade.
Your main base once you are pretty far along into the game is called Skyhold. This is where all of your characters come together and you can speak to each of them individually. Talking to a character will many times set off a new mission that you can venture forth on at your own leisure. The war table is a new feature that I absolutely loved.
For fans of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag this is something that you could relate to the captain’s quarters. A place where you can kind of send agents off onto different missions that take a certain amount of time, while gaining some type of reward when completed. I had a friend playing roughly the same time as me who had a horrible experience because of being unaware that many core missions are completed at the war table, but I feel like they make it pretty clear that you need to be checking in there to advance in the campaign.
Another new feature is the Skyhold customization. You are able to completely deck out your castle, all the way from the throne that you sit in to the drapes. Yes I did just say the throne you sit in, because as Inquisitor there are many judgements that need to be made on enemies and others. You can choose to be as kind or brutal as you would like. As always the other characters will either slightly or greatly approve or disapprove of your actions. You have your own room to customize and in the room you are able to change your outfits for different occasions, such as being home at Skyhold. This way you aren’t always wearing your armor even while you lounge about talking to guests. There is also a great undercroft area with all kinds of customization options for your armor, weapons, and enchantments. It is a great feeling to have all of your crew with the best possible weapons and armor that you either bought or crafted. There is a new option to tint the armor with resources that you gather so you can even have them all matching if you would like, or at least looking exactly how you would like each of them to.
The romance and backstory has always been a strong point for Dragon Age games. The friendships are deep, you can continue to peel back layer after layer of the characters that most interest you, and they just keep it right on coming. It is so deep with emotion especially for players of the previous games who know things like why Varric has such a hard time around red lyrium and that ecstatic feeling when you finally meet the real Bianca, or why it is so insane that Morrigan’s mother Flemeth could be in the picture somehow after all that they had been through. Even if you do not catch those things there is still an incredible amount of depth to each character and what makes them uniquely who they are. If you do pursue a romantic relationship with a character, let’s just say things do get a little bit rated R.
Another feature that was top notch is the hunting & resource gathering. You require different metals and herbs for requisitions that will help to strengthen your Inquisition. Let’s say that you want to restore the garden at Skyhold and make it to where you can plant more seeds to gather while you are home. That will cost so many elfroot, and you may also have to find a logging stand and quarry or two while out on your journeys. The hunting reminded me a bit of an old favorite of mine, Red Dead Redemption. It allows you to keep the hide and other resources from the animal to use later when crafting armor or tinting it. There are also a few missions that might require you gather some meat for hungry recruits or refugees.
The dialogue options are a driving force in all of the Dragon Age games, being able to make this completely your story and exactly how you want it. That is what has always drawn me to the series. The lore is just so immersive and being able to choose how the adventure is going to pan out is really an experience like no other. Will the Mages or Templars succeed this time? What will happen to the members of your party? Will they even make it into your party? This is what always gets me hooked from beginning to end when playing a Dragon Age game, it just feels like there is no way that anyone else in the world could have made every choice and had the same relationships with the different characters the way that you did, and that is a very cool feeling.
The 8-bit Review
This is the most visually stunning game that I personally have ever played. That is not to say that it has not been surpassed, but if there is a game that has done it I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet. The scenes are breathtaking, but it isn’t a huge difference between them and when you are actually playing. I have never been a huge graphics guy, I love a good game no matter if it is pixelated, polygon, or whatever as long as it is a good game. It is so refreshing though to sit back and enjoy a great game that is also a visual masterpiece.
The voice acting in this game was phenomenal, never a dull word spoken. I can’t put enough emphasis on the vocal performances. You truly get to know these characters and their whole stories, you feel a sort of kinship with them that would be entirely impossible if it had not be for the soulful and impactful performances given by all of these actors. When the music needed to be epic, it always delivered. The overall sound of the game was as good as it gets.
I was about to give a 10 to this category, but I remembered that getting used to the combat system actually kept me from playing for a while. It was new and scary to me so I just straight up put it down for quite some time. However once you find the way to play that fits your style it is top notch. Everything is smooth in the battles and in the traversal. It was mainly the new tactical ability that drove me away for a moment. I was under the impression that using this mode was a necessity to play correctly and not an optional style to use if it suited you. If this had been more clear to me, this category would definitely be a 10.
I hope to see what kind of books they have in the Dragon Age world. The things that you find written in books and the overall story are just so deep and amazing. They are unparalleled, it is the type of universe that you can really get lost in. This is without a doubt the main thing that keeps me hooked to the Dragon Age series, and the main thing that I absolutely love about this game.
Once you get everything settled there are no flaws whatsoever with the accessibility. However my friend having the issue that he had with the war table and my taking some time before coming back to it because of the tactical view are enough for me to decide to take this score down just a little bit. Like I said though when you have a good idea of how to handle things, everything is smooth as butter.
The overall challenge was not too daunting. I was able to finish the main story without too many very frustrating encounters, in fact probably less than previous Dragon Age games that I have played. Where the biggest challenges come into play on Inquisition are with the High Dragons, some of these will have you trying and trying for the longest time before absolutely crushing your feeble attempt.
I think that Dragon Age games are all incredibly unique, as I mentioned above there are just so many different options with so many different characters, that it is impossible to not come up with a story that is completely unique to you. This is a shining strong point for Inquisition especially, because of all the incredible new customization options.
My Personal Grade: 10/10
It is right there on the top of the list with my favorite games all time. Simply amazing.
Aggregated Score: 9.4