When I last left Dragon Age: Inquisition this past winter, I was picking up the pieces of an aborted playthrough with the help of a new playthrough. Gone was my “fresh start” with Inquisition, replaced by a recreation of the rogue (and roguish) female elf whom I had made for Dragon Age: Origins. Well, after a ton of fits and starts and more than little grumbling, I finally finished the game! Yes, I waved a bloody goodbye to the game’s primary antagonist, Corypheus, saved Thedas, and became the greatest Inquisitor the world had ever known. It was…enjoyable? Entertaining? Worth 50 hours of my time?
Yes, I can honestly say it was all those things. I had fun physically playing the game. Sure, there were some annoyances, but I generally enjoyed the combat, exploring on foot all that Thedas had to offer, conversing with friends and enemies, and eventually being at the regal and moral helm of decision-making. The game ran smoothly, the controls functioned well, and I didn’t experience any glitches that disrupted the gameplay.
I also found the game very entertaining. Though I was not terribly happy getting to know everyone with my first character, my second character proved to be quite the socialite. She picked up as many companions as possible and found enough pleasant discussions to fill the voids between missions. She remained as cordial as possible to most. But though she decided to side with the mages over the templars, she made some inadvertent decisions that made a few of her cohorts rather unhappy. She also made a vain attempt at romance.
I also didn’t mind spending a work week plus overtime with my elf and her friends fighting the great fight. While I didn’t keep precise track of my time, I’d judge that I split my time with the game fairly evenly between playing the main story and sidequests/exploring. The story was okay, save for all the political bits at which I mostly just nodded my head and smiled. As usually happens in games with in-depth stories where I lose track of just how involved I need to be, I found myself more attracted to the sidequests, opening up new places, and generally roaming Thedas’s countryside.
Now, you might be think that I’m setting up things here for a bunch of “buts.” And…you’d be right! (Oh, you know me so well.) Tally Ho!
Also, SPOILERS AHEAD.
Playing the game was great, but…
Okay, keeping in mind that I played this game on the Xbox One, who in their right mind this side of a blue moon decided it would be an awesome, and I mean totally awesome idea to make the A button BOTH the action button and the jump button? That mechanic drove me fucking bonkers! Because nearly every goddamn time I went to pick a plant or loot a chest or examine something, I ended up jumping. The anger I continue to feel about this can only be described by Madeline Kahn.
Goddamn, how I love Clue.
Other than that dumbassery, like I said, the game ran very smoothly. I enjoyed ranged combat so much more than being an up close and personal rogue, as it made for fun and mostly non-frustrating battles that allowed me time to make decisions. One thing that did give me pause was the way you leveled by applying points to various aspects of your character. Mapping new abilities proved more convoluted than it should have been, and at times I ended up with the same ability mapped twice. And it’s quite possible that I didn’t pay close enough attention to the system in general, as I can’t say that I took advantage of all it had to offer. My loss? Maybe. But it didn’t detract from the game so far as I could tell.
My companions where great, but…
If I had had the time that I put into Mass Effect years ago (multiple playthrough, hundreds of hours), I probably would have gotten to know my Inquisition teammates better. But, I didn’t have time to spend on exploring every last conversation wheel with every last character. There were just too many damn people! Let’s see…there were your advisors: Cullen, Josephine, and Leliana. And then there were your companions: Cassandra, Solas, Varric, Iron Bull, Vivienne, Cole, Sera, Blackwall, and Dorian. Plus, at one point, Hawke from Dragon Age II made an appearance, and then Morrigan! That baker’s dozen plus one made for hundreds of conversational options. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Least of all, me. So I opted to befriend some and ignore others. Sera, Blackwall, and Dorian became my core team until Blackwall left. Then I used Iron Bull or Cassandra. I completely ignored Vivienne, Cole, and Solas (bad move there, probably), and I mostly ignored Varric, Hawke when he showed up, and my advisors. Except…for Cullen.
In Dragon Age: Origins, my elf had a wonderful time with Alistair that, unfortunately, ended poorly. In Dragon Age II, my Hawke only had eyes for Isabella. In Inquisition, well…there was really only one character I, err…my elf wanted to bed: Varric. This was even more true in DA II, but he was not an option. And super sadly, he remained off limits in Inquisition. Once that fact revealed itself, I was stuck wondering if I wanted to romance anyone at all. But I eventually set my sights on Cullen and Sera, (she was almost like a female version of Varric, punchy personality with a sweet, sweet voice) and end up going for Cullen after something I said made Sera quite upset.
I did my best to become all friendly with Cullen, who proved quite adorable at “flirting.” We chatted over sunsets, played a bit of chess, shared “a moment,” and I really thought I was getting somewhere…until the lyrium issue arose. Should Cullen, a Templar knight addicted to the stuff (perhaps for good reason) continue to take lyrium or quit? Well, me being me, I was all like “get off that shit, yo! You don’t need that stuff fuckin’ with your head nomore!” Err…yeah, sure. Anyway, Cullen believed me and got clean, which led to…nothing. Oh, he was quite appreciative and thankful to have me as a friend, but that was the end of it. No romp in the hay for my elf. I am just not meant to have sexy time in medieval-type fantasy games.
I went through 50 hours of hell for a wistful talk? Thanks.
The story was fine, but…
So finally, dat story. I hate to keep coming back to the issue of time, but if I had had time to really sink into this game, maybe I would have gotten more into the story. It was just that, fine. I mangled my way through the major parts of it, but got mostly lost in trying to figuring out/remember who was trying to politically backstab who. Could be that I missed out on a bunch of stuff by more talking more to Leliana and Josephine. Could be that because of the way I played the game – a few hours every other weekend over several months– I just didn’t maintain the continuity required to follow all of the story’s complexities. All I knew was that I had to defeat Corypheus, but that I would first have to make my way through a bunch of minor quests to get to him. I got how the path of the Inquisitor fit into it all, and I really liked how the game evolved to include a variety of different areas. But when things got really confusing, like that whole mess in Orlais with Empress Celene (mission: “Wicked Eyes, Wicked Hearts”), I found myself speeding through the story just to get to some simple exploring, shard collecting, returning rings to their rightful owners, and maybe doing away with a dragon or three.
So yes, the story was fine, but in the end, I just didn’t care much about it. The additional bloat of political/social bullshit didn’t help me become more engaged. I would have been perfectly content with a streamlined, 8-10 hour story consisting of just a few missions accompanied by another 10 or so hours of interesting open-world sidequests. The perfect 20 hour game. Boom.
And after all those words, I’m firmly in the middle with Dragon Age: Inquisition. I enjoyed it much more than Dragon Age II but not quite as much as Dragon Age: Origins. It was good game hampered by a few odd mechanics and story nonsense, and not one I’d play again anytime soon, not even for the hope of a successful romance. Those days of multiple playthroughs of large RPG are over for me…for now, anyway. I’m pleased enough with the way things went in Inquisition the first time round, and that’ll just have to do.