Dragon Age: Inquisition | game review
It's the end of the world as we know it, and... it's actually pretty easy to stop it?
Game summary: When the Conclave is destroyed, leaving only one survivor, demons are loosed up on the world. In an attempt to restore order and save the world, the survivor--now the inquisitor-- instigates the long forgotten inquisition. (IMDb)
With my previously-stated love of Dragon Age: Origins, enjoyment of Awakening and even having fun with the much-maligned Dragon Age II, you'd expect me to love a huge new game in the series, right? Actually, no. While Dragon Age: Inquisition is technically excellent for a near-decade old game, the sheer amount of irrelevant side content stuffed in here is ridiculous and the weak villain means the story can't really rescue things either.
Let's get the biggest praise front-and-centre: this really is a great game to look at and listen to. Some iffy animations aside, the character models are pretty much uniformly excellent, the voice acting is also effectively perfect and the looks of each area and everything they contain is still really, really good - the score is pretty fantastic too. Hell, if it released now, this would still be one of the better looking and sounding games to come out this year.
The biggest problem Inquisition has is that there's just too much of it, which proves especially frustrating when so much of the 'optional' side content really does seem like filler compared to previous titles. That's not so let those games off the hook, but at least the majority of their side-quests felt much more strongly linked either to certain characters, the central plot or even just fitting in with the tone or themes of the narrative.
Much like Mass Effect: Andromeda, too much of the side-content here is very easy to ignore because so much of it feels designed to give the player something to do to rather than because it's relevant to what the player is doing. And, like with Andromeda, I'd advise to just keep to quests that are either directly linked to your companions or the main story if you can - most of the collect-a-thon stuff can be completed as you go, so really don't waste your time focusing on it.
And you will have to waste a lot of time on boring side stuff if you want to 100% Inquisition thanks not just to how large the areas you can visit are, but how poorly-designed some areas of them are. It's annoying as hell when a collectible is in sight, but you need to go on a huge detour just to get up or down to wherever it is, which'll usually lead you into more battles or other areas of the map way before you were planning to - again, leave this shit where it is and concentrate on the bigger stuff first.
Then again, it isn't just the placement of items - or enemies, allies, or anything else scattered about the world - that's an issue, there's also the terrain itself. There's finally a jump button in a Dragon Age game, which sounds like a welcome addition, except the terrain is covered with so many obnoxiously-placed obstacles that are just a little too large for your character to walk/run over that you'll end up hopping around most of the areas like a deranged rabbit.
The added mobility of the jumping also highlights what a poor idea it was to have the characters be able to use their legs for something extra, while leaving their upper bodies completely useless. So many of the items just out of reach would be so much easier to get to if you could not just jump, but grab onto surfaces and pull yourself up - and there are so many occasions that this would be helpful that it seems like an enormous oversight.
As for how Inquisition plays outside of hopping around the frustrating, but gorgeous environments, it isn't that much different from previous games, with you unlocking skills as you level up by defeating enemies or completing quests that allow you do either protect yourself - no healing spells in this game, just health potions - or add new methods of attack to your arsenal.
This all works pretty great for your main character or your 'tanking' companions, but other melee characters are frustratingly squishy, and the ranged characters (archers, mages) seem to have an AI issue where they want to follow you as closely as possible, leading to them being idiotically-close to enemies they should be nowhere near if you're playing as a melee character yourself.
That frustration aside, Inquisition does play as you'd expect and there's a decent variety of enemies to take on too, even if some of them wear out their welcome by the end of the game too - which includes the main villain, who first appeared in the Legacy DLC for Dragon Age II. If you want to play a game where it's pretty much win after win for the good guys, this is the title for you.
That's not hyperbole either, with the 'darkest moment' coming very close to the start of the game and the rest of it being you and your allies taking your opponents apart piece by piece with nary a setback. It's a really odd narrative choice because it removes all tension or sense of threat when you succeed at pretty much everything you do, making the enemy seem more incompetent than anything, no matter how much some characters might try to insist how dire things are.
As for said characters, I have to admit that I don't really care for a lot of them, regardless of their excellent designs or the great performances of the voice artists. Some of them suffer from not being that well fleshed out, but it's mostly that some of them just aren't that interesting, having maybe a single unique thing that could've potentially been enough in a much shorter game, but becomes tiresomely repetitive here.
Even the better-written companions (I'll keep to myself who I think they are!) suffer from Inquisition's insane length, running out of things to say well before the game is over - and not once on the two occasions I've now gone through this game have come close to doing 100% either. Just to be clear: that's not a fault of the writers for these characters, but more that the game simply needed a lot of fat being trimmed.
It really does feel like this game is incredibly close to being something spectacular, but there are so many minor issues with so many different aspects of the game that I can't help but feel somewhat disappointed at how it all turned out. Hell, just redesigning the environments/letting the player walk or run over small obstacles more easily, while cutting 20% of the side stuff would've been an immense improvement on its own.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a bit of a let-down for the series, with a threat-free main plot, wonky AI and so much irrelevant side-content stuffed in making for a very long game that often feels very much like a chore to get through. It does look astounding though, and some of the characters are enjoyable enough, although they'll run out of things to say way before the game finishes if you try to do everything.