Dragon Age: Inquisition Review [Replayed Review]

The Game that Started a Moderate Obsession 😂

General Info

Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Rating: M 17+
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform I Played On: PlayStation 4 and PC
Platform(s) Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre(s): RPG, Fantasy
Difficulty I Played On: Hard
Version I Played: Game of the Year Edition

Synopsis

Taken from Official Electronic Arts EA Site

Dragon Age: Inquisition – The Epic Action RPG – On PC, PS4 and Xbox One – EA Official

A cataclysmic event plunges the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons darken the sky, casting a shadow over lands on the brink of chaos. Mages break into all-out war against the oppressive templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you and your allies to restore order as you lead the Inquisition and hunt down the agents of chaos.

Explore, lead, and battle: Tough choices define your experience, and even one decision can change the course of what’s to come.

Why You Should Play: The Shortened Version

>> Dynamic characters

>> Engaging and well thought out story

>> Continuation of the series

>> Established lore and in game world

>> Fairly customizable protagonist

Disclaimer: I have replayed this game quite a bit, it’s my most replayed Dragon Age game. While I am not active in the Dragon Age fandom, I am also fairly up to date in the current news of Dragon Age and the development of the fourth instalment. So, while I have actively tried to keep this post at a reasonable length but I had a lot of thoughts and opinions about the game.

Disclaimer 2: I love the Dragon Age series but that does not mean I blindly love the game. I do make quite a few remarks about things I did not prefer in the game. This is not in praise of Dragon Age: Inquisition but a review encompassing the good, bad, and the ugly. If you are highly passionate about the Dragon Age series and are wary of criticism I would not recommend this review or at least read it completely through to the end to get the full picture.

Pros

  • Core story is engaging and memorable
  • Extension of issues from previous games
  • Well-executed and dynamic characters
  • Great DLCs
  • Trespasser DLC is a must and is the best part of the game
  • Companion quests add extra and meaningful story content
  • No more brown undertones in visuals
  • Impactful protagonist considering we are a blank slate of a character
  • Different races, classes, outfits, and weaponry for customization and stat bonuses

Cons

  • Side quests a chore
  • Open world is but a mere allusion, it’s all fluff and bloat
  • Races and classes should be more impactful and have more influence on situations
  • Villain is OK, but could’ve been better
  • Combat can be repetitious
  • Retconning characters to fit story
  • Should have more dark fantasy instead of high fantasy influences in both story and visual components to complement the other two games

Recalled First Impressions

Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI) was actually my first introduction to the series. I always have appreciated fantasy in general so me choosing to play this game is of no surprise. There are two major reasons as to what actually drew me into the series. One: when I saw the game had inquisition in the title I immediately thought of a specific line from Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ reoccurring skit with the classic line “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” 🤣 Two: I saw a video clip of a compilation of a rather snarky inquisitor and was very intrigued. So with this rather unorthodox way of becoming intrigued by the Dragon Age series, when the game was on sale on the PlayStation store, I decided to try it out.

I remember actually opening up the main menu and being really excited because this looked like it was going to be an epic game. I really liked from the get-go the concept of the tarot cards being representative of your characters background story. The overall beginning just made me think we were going down the fantasy path and I was definitely here for it 😍

I like fantasy, and usually with fantasy there is a lot of terminology associated with the in-game universe and DAI is no exception. As a newcomer to the series I didn’t feel overtly confused and was able to catch on as the game progressed. The codex system in DAI also is a great in-game resource for the various terminologies used. However, I will say upon playing the other two Dragon Age games, some things in DAI suddenly made more sense or gave more weight in the decision making process. Overall my first experience with DAI was enjoyable and I never felt completely out of the loop.

The Story and Overall Execution

There are some spoilers in this section. Read at your own risk. I have kept out any shocking reveals or major truth bombs so have no fear~

The core story of DAI is pretty much the synopsis of the game; a cataclysmic event occurs and you, henceforth in this review known as the Inquisitor, are sucked into the situation and are a part of restoring order to a very chaotic and tense world of Thedas. There are of course missions that are exclusive in the progression of the main story and side quests that are optional but many give more insight to the main story. The main story at its core is quite engaging and has a variety of locales and new lore introduced to the game.

DAI boasts the most options of character customization in terms of race and class. There are four races to choose from: human, elf, dwarf, and qunari (race unique to Dragon Age series). There are three classes to choose from: rogue, mage, and warrior. Depending on your race and class your overall background story is different but your background is left fairly unexplored. You also have the option as playing as male or female. Your sex and race matters in terms romanceable characters if you choose to romance somebody, other than that no real differences or consequences in game.

I would say that the game does kind of start out on the slow side after your initial character introduction and there are a lot of side quests. An infamous area in DAI is the Hinterlands, the area you are first sent off to help with recruiting some people and generally helping war refugees. Its infamy lies in that there are a lot of fetch quests and a considerable lack of substance in terms of why there is so much to do there. Every time I always feel the need to complete all the Hinterland quests and essentially just use the area has grinding grounds so I can actually enjoy the story and substantive side quests later on.

Once you are finally done with the Hinterlands the game does pick up the pace (thank goodness) and you have the only divergent main story quest. You are forced to pick a side of who you will ally with in order stop the problem presented in the beginning of the game. You get the choice of siding with the mages or siding with the Templars (assassins creed much??? Why not a different name folks?? What is the fascination with using the actual name of the real world Knights Templar as the only possible name of an order of knights??? I digress… but have opinions clearly…).

I do have a controversial opinion in that I really hate the mage side’s story line. One concept I typically despise in a story line: Time Travel. I think in most cases it leaves more questions than answers and I think the usage of it just felt inappropriate and unnecessary to add another plot element in a game that already has so much going on story wise. The Templar route feels to me feels more reasonable given our standing and the plot deals with demons, an already existing problem from the other two games. It seems that many people blindly side with the mages and despise the templars and this makes many who prefer the Templar side of the story an anomaly. I still appreciate that we have a diverging choice in the main story sequence, so to each one’s own when concerning story preferences.

As I have said before is that the core story is essentially the entirety of why you should play any of the Dragon Age series. Overall the main story line takes you to some interesting places throughout two main countries in Thedas, Ferelden and Orlais. Some key moments include the Orlesian Palace (a favorite portion of mine), and old fortress, ancient ruins (my other favorite sequence), and let’s just say there’s always some suspicious ancient magic involved in the realms of fantasy.

I think in some ways DAI is a transitional game in that it will potentially bridge all of the events from Dragon Age 2 (DA2) and connect them to the next installment. The game itself feels fairly contained in that you a part of a temporary institution to help fix an immediate problem. There are a lot of things left unsolved and in some cases more questions than answers (that will hopefully be addressed in the next installment 😶). When thinking about the actual story via the lens of the Inquisitor we do accomplish a lot throughout the story. I think as someone who has played all three games multiple times it’s hard to separate the game plot and the overarching lore being presented.

The villain is actually a repeat character from a DA2’s DLC, Legacy. It’s actually the same voice actor just a very different execution from DA2 to DAI. I think the villain starts off really strong but then become stagnant and lacking substance. I have heard rumors that there supposedly was some differences of opinion in the execution of the final boss battle and playing the game so many times it kind of rings true. This is why I really think that this game is ultimately a bridge between two games in that its setting up the stage for something much more sinister and widespread.

The game is semi-open world, a method in which I usually like because we have the ability to explore different confined areas. The overall world is quite expansive and almost has every single biome you could imagine. However, just because we have lots of areas to explore does not make it inherently good. In fact, most of the areas I find too expansive that lack substance and a strong reason as to why we are even there.

I think this is a game where the story is paramount, we don’t need all the bells and whistles of an open world to make the world feel more expansive. In fact, DAI is a prime example of what a dead open world feels like, there’s a few interesting lore presented but ultimately feels like filler and you’re just aimlessly wondering through the wilderness. I like one or two areas of nature to explore but like three different desert areas? Two forest areas? Two swampy areas? The only area I actually want to do and actually like to complete the area to 100% was the one based in the snowier climate, Emprise du Lion. There was a clear-cut case of something sinister is going on here (and possibly due to my bias for snow ridden areas 🤣) that made this area fun and purposeful to do.

Overall, the story execution is engaging, intriguing, and enjoyable to play and replay multiple times. I think the main thing that annoys me when I replay the game is the levelling system in that it does not align with the overall pacing of the story and the methods in which we can level up are filled with fluff and no substance and soon the game becomes a chore rather than something to enjoy. I recall spending some nights not even playing the main story just so I could get to a reasonable level.

This is in part to a greater change I have observed in gaming in general before story driven games had appropriate pacing with leveling up and the overall story. The earlier games did not have this pacing issue and you could easily do maybe two to three quests as a brief break from the main story. DAI just seems to gut the concept of pacing and simply goes for the grinding tactic. While there are specific games that do benefit and sole purpose is based on grinding and leveling up, Dragon Age as a whole isn’t and should never be a grinding fest.

UPDATE: I have totally forgotten to mention the world state system that is utilized in this game. You can have your past games’ world states be reflected in DAI by utilizing the Dragon Age Keep. A website where you make an account and you can put in your key choices in past games and it will be subtly (or not) apparent from the default world state the game gives you. Once I actually played the other games the world state is fun to play with and it does bring some change to your overall story. In my canon playthroughs there are a few key choices that I ended up not falling in line with the default world state and that was quite fun to experience (even if in many cases it’s just presented in a brief blurb). This does make the overall game have a bit more variety, customization, and re-playability depending on one’s world state which I think is somewhat unique.

Side Quests

Chore // Companion Quests 😍 // Mixed Bag

If my feelings about DAI’s overall side quest mechanisms were not apparent above let me say that about 95% of the side quests bore me in Inquisition. It may be blunt, but it needs to be said. Majority of them are fetch quests and basically just pad your experience points or perk points (diplomacy, economic, resources, etc.) and honestly they are all just a bore and a chore to do. This I think is in part to the afore mentioned underdeveloped leveling system DAI has and they needed something to fill the void.

There are also random collection quests such as collecting bottles. Which honestly, I don’t mind these because they are just little tiny tidbits that are chance encounters. My inner collector says that this is a fun thing to have on the side that isn’t a chore. It is satisfying seeing my growing collection of the Bottles of Thedas 😂

There are two other collection style quests that include looking for these random shards or these astrological puzzles located in random places. If you spend an incredible amount of time finding all of these items, you get some rewards. In fact, there’s a specific area that is essentially there to aide the shard quest. When I first played the game, I participated in these but now I actively skip the shards and astrological puzzles because they take too long and are not substantial. These are just another example of bloat in the game that ends up being a chore opposed to being a fun.

There are other kinds of quests that are essentially optional and those are the companion quests. While they are not labeled as side quests per say I so consider them as such because for the most part they are entirely optional and you can interact as little or as much with your companions as you’d like. The companion quests have the story, character development, and level of human interaction that Bioware was once known for. I think the companion quests are an essential part of the DAI experience because they add more depth and human elements to the game.

If we include our three advisors in game, there are a grand total of 12 story lines that deal with a specific character and his/her problems. These companion quests also have a few different outcomes so you can choose to essentially play it nice or really muck up your companions lives 😂 Some of the resolutions to these quests give depth to the overall story that would have otherwise been lost.

The final type of quest is probably the only one where casual players will not see the point. It’s the war table missions. These take place at the war table and are little short prompts and you have to choose from two to three actions based on your advisors suggestions. Once you pick a choice you then have to wait in real time for the event to close (some are 10 mins others are over 18 hours 😱). Ngl on the PS4 this aspect of real time was annoying… I think the war table missions had a lot of potential but were executed in a way that felt pointless or very little pay-off. After completion you get to read a summary of what happened, get a reward, and possibly a follow-up quest. This overall was not a bad idea in theory but I think the overall execution was lacking and we didn’t get to truly feel the overall consequences of our decisions.

Characters

To keep things brief I have written two separate blog posts on character specifics and rankings for fun. Honestly, I’m sure many Dragon Age fans could easily write an essay for each character 🤣🤣 Right below are the links to my companion rankings and review.

Dragon Age Inquisition Companion Rankings and Review Part 1
Dragon Age Inquisition Companion Rankings and Review Part 2

Large Pool of Characters // Variety // Impactful to Game Experience

In DAI it boasts the largest number of companions and interactive characters than its predecessors. There are 9 potential companions (6 of which are optional), 3 advisors, and a few notable side characters. Most of the major character we associate with are fully fleshed out and realized characters. From the characterization, motives, and voice acting all make the characters stand out and why so many people are so passionate about Dragon Age and its characters.

The three default companions of the game are Cassandra, Varric, and Solas. Each representing a different race and class. Cassandra is a human warrior with a strong religious conviction and a sense of duty to bring order and stability to Thedas. She is first introduced to us players in DA2 but returns as an active companion role. Varric, our beloved dwarven friend from DA2 makes a return as a companion, he gets to see the consequences of the events that occurred in DA2. The newly introduced character is Solas, an elven mage who appears to be a traveler with a vast knowledge in general and elven history. These guys will stay with you until the very end of the story.

The next three I usually recruit is Vivienne, Sera, and Blackwall. Vivienne is an elite mage who grew up under the teachings of the circle (in some areas a highly questionable form of an academy). She is probably one of the most disliked characters which is something I strongly disagree with. She gives of a vastly different perspective of what it means to be a mage and is not afraid to disagree with the Inquisitor. Sera, is probably the most hated characters or at least very polarizing. Sera is one of the youngest companions and definitely shows a lot of immaturity and is quite crude. I personally am really not a fan of immature characters in general so she is kind of middle of the road for me. Blackwall, who is a grey warden travelling in Ferelden. He is also middle of the road for me.

The last three characters I get are The Iron Bull, Cole, and Dorian. The Iron Bull is a qunari and is pretty transparent about being a spy for the Qun (religion, lifestyle, policy of the quanri) while galivanting around Thedas with his mercenary company. Tbh sometimes is playthroughs I don’t even bother getting Iron Bull, Idk, I respect Bull’s intelligence but I’m not a fan of raunchy and crude characters. It does make me a bit wary when the main personality trait of the character is sex and being crude. Call me a prude but it is what it is… Cole is spirit who takes on a human form and basically wants to help. I think his character introduction makes much more sense if you side with the Templars because it gives him a better introduction and overall purpose as to why he’s joining the Inquisition. Dorian is the final character I recruit. Dorian is a human mage from Tevinter (a northern land that southern Thedas does not get along with too well) and has a few reasons for leaving Tevinter. He is a smart guy and quick witted and is a fan favorite of many.

We have three advisors and they are Leliana, Cullen, and Josephine. Cullen and Leliana are returning characters from Dragon Age: Origins (DAO) and minor roles in DA2.  Leliana is our beloved assassin with deep religious values. Cullen is a Templar with his fair share of trauma from order life and just the overall events that occurred in DA2. Josephine is a new character. She’s nobility from Antiva and is great at diplomacy and handling nobles.

DAI has the greatest number of romanceable characters in the dragon age series, a feature many like (possibly too much). The ability to romance someone is completely optional and you can still become close friends without a romantic element. The romance system is also the most fleshed out amongst all three games in terms how many factors can affect the potential to simply be able to romance a character or successfully maintain the romance.

There is no arbitrary gift giving in this game, thank goodness! Some of the factors that affect the romance ability are your Inquisitors sex, race, and a compounding total of points determined by dialogue and action choices throughout the game. Essentially, if you piss off people, they will not want to associate with you in general, what realism! I really like that they added all these components into the romance category because I believe that not every person a main character encounters should necessarily want to immediately fall in love with your character. It adds the element of human choice and preferences which I appreciate. Makes it much more entertaining and isn’t a catch all romance situation but more custom and unique to each character.

The romanceable characters are Cassandra, Solas, Sera, Blackwall, Iron Bull, Dorian, Cullen, and Josephine. Cullen and Josephine do not have any reaction to your dialogue and choices so they are the easiest to romance in some ways. All the others are influenced by for dialogue and overall choices. To some degree each potential love interest can be non romanceable due to your race or sex. For funsies, my canon romance is Dorian because it makes sense with my canon Inquisitor. Though in some of my playthroughs I don’t even bother doing a romance, the romance is only but a small portion of the game guys~

As I have said before all the characters in their own way add something to the overall experience of DAI. Even if one does not like the character does not mean the character has not had some kind of contribution. All the companion quests seem to have a good amount of story and add depth to the character. I honestly cannot imagine the game being as engaging and fun without all the companion quests, that’s how impactful the characters are to the core of the game.

Our Protagonist: The Inquisitor

Beloved by Many // Minimal Backstory // Questionable Execution of Race Distinction

Within the fandom it appears that most people really like their Inquisitor. It is no surprise since there is a high level of customizability and in most cases I see that most people play as fairly good natured Inquisitor. I think in comparison to the other two games the Inquisitor is the least morally grey protagonist of the bunch even if the game tries to make sure there are more aggressive options for choices.

The inquisitor is a fully voiced character in which you get to hear your dialogue choices come to life and some follow-up dialogue that you may not have full control over. In your character creation you get to choose from four voice options half being male the other female. You get to choose between an English or American accent. I would say form what I’ve seen the English accent is the popular choice among fans. However, if you play a dwarf or qunari in game lore would suggest you choose the American accent. I don’t think the overall quality of voice acting is bad from any of the options we are given. I personally like the inquisitor having a voice because I think it just adds to the overall execution and presence of our Inquisitor.

Playing as a human inquisitor probably is the most stable option in terms of being the most appropriate given the in-game politics of mages and other races. Choosing to not play as a human can sometimes be off putting and maybe doesn’t have the most logical progression or relation to the established lore. Other people may choose to see past this… but… I just cannot see Orlais or Fereldon really being comfortable with a qunari or an elf as head of the Inquisition and realistically wouldn’t you use a proxy for diplomatic purposes? They try to explain this is game that no one else is suited for the role other than the inquisitor but sometimes it does feel a bit farfetched, idk…

My canon Inquisitor is a male elf rogue archer. I like the idea that is not a mage coming to save the world and that its some Podunk countryside elf 🤣 My actual first few run-throughs were as a female mage human, a female mage elf, a male mage elf, and finally my male rogue elf archer. I have also dabbled in being a female dwarf and qunari but those two races just didn’t match my overall canon.

The female elf is a popular fan choice due to the romance options available. I think I like the idea of having someone completely stumble into power and making do with the situation. I also like the notion of needing to relay on his/her advisors and not having the ability to micromanage everything but is at the mercy of other people’s actions and opinions. I think an elf does fit this narrative I’ve created in my head but is flexible in terms of the other races. To each one’s own~

That being said I do have a few criticisms with the overall execution of the elf race. One: aren’t we supposed to be from a backwater clan living in nature? We are pretty much just a carbon copy of a human in terms of our knowledge. Two: the models look somewhat emaciated which was not the case in the older games. Three: Apparently we know nothing about elf history and act a fool 😑 Four: in-game lore has a whole hierarchical system in terms of class and race and it really doesn’t seem to effect much of our character in game which bugs me.

Most of these criticisms are common ones for all races except humans. Supposedly the other three races were added at the last moment so in some ways every inquisitor’s knowledge coming into the story is essentially that of a human. All I can say is I hope there is more race specific dialogue and information perks than the rudimentary system they have in DAI. Make it make sense to the established in game lore please!

Regardless of what we choose as our inquisitor we essentially get a back story in a few sentences. Which I get why it’s like that but also I’d just like a tiny bit more? It seems like we are always interested in our companions but no one really gives the opportunity to ask the inquisitor questions which would have been nice (save for Josephine in a brief conversation in the beginning of the game). I just wished for a bit more opportunity to be less neutral in character. At the same time with other neutral protagonists I get why they’re designed that way, for more player insert and the classic RPG format. I guess I don’t mind a hybrid of a bit of backstory and some opportunity for choice and neutrality.

I do have a fondness for my Inquisitor and just want him to live out the rest of his days in relative peace. I like to make my inquisitor grow as a person and maybe start off a bit more brash and grow into the position of becoming wiser and more comfortable in a position of power. Also playing as an elf I also self-canon that he is studying like a madman when they first give him the position so is ready to be in physical combat but also intellectual combat. Overall, the Inquisitor is an impactful protagonist and I am not deeply upset by the overall execution and choices we are given in game to establish our Inquisitor.

DLCS

There are three story driven DLCs for DAI. All of which have really well throughout out story lines and add new bits of lore and opportunity for a new adventure as your Inquisitor. If you buy the game of the year edition all three of these DLCs are included.

The Descent

In DAI there is a surprising lack of Dwarven lore in comparison to the first two series. This DLC is focused on the deep roads (old Dwarven tunnels underground filled with danger) and basically going deeper into the ground and exploring never before traversed territory with a new dwarf companion named Valta. She’s a shaper, basically the dwarves’ version of a historian/archivist. She has sensed strange things in the area and believes they are the cause to the newly frequently occurring earthquakes.

We are there as part of the Inquisition because the earthquakes are a potential threat to all of Thedas, and thus we need to go under the premise of bringing stability and order. Depending on when one starts this DLC you will either have all options for companions or a limited choice.

I’ve never been a fan of underground dungeons so overall the descent never thrilled me in terms of starting it up or actually having a strong desire to complete it. Dwarven lore is also not the most fascinating to me so that also is a small drawback for this DLC. I guess I agree with the dwarven character Varric in that I really do hate the deep roads and all tunnels look and feel the same to me 🤣

Overall, I think the story is well thought out but I almost wish there was a bit more danger involved being as this is supposed “uncharted territory” I would have liked there to be more than just darkspawn (unique creatures to the deep roads) or random enemies that come out of nowhere to fight. Possibly more traps to run into? I really wanted more urgent tone. The only great moment story wise is finding out more sinister undertones of stories and topics that have been lost to history. As a bonus, I also do enjoy the side quest involving a Nug King, perfect placement of humor.

Despite my criticisms and overall lackluster approach with this DLC I think the lore learned is very interesting and has a very high chance of coming back in the next installment of dragon age so it is worth playing. In my replays I also replay it every single time so it cannot be that bad of a DLC either 🤣

Jaws of Hakkon

Jaws of Hakkon is by far my favorite between it and The Descent. This is a story focused on the original Inquisitions Inquisitor so it’s basically an archeology hunt in the backwater areas of Thedas. My inner Indiana Jones became very intrigued and excited by the premise of this DLC. Combining fantasy and archeological and historical matters? Yes and Yes!

Jaws of Hakkon is like The Descent in that you can start it before or after completing the game. The potential for companion options can vary depending on when you choose to start it so keep that in mind.

The DLC sports a new map that is fairly contained and has a forest swamp, ruins, and small village section. While it does take a bit of time to get around sometimes the notion of that we are in backwater territory makes the travel time reasonable.

The actual story is finding various ruins and encountering things that gives more insight as to what happened with the first Inquisitor who went missing hundreds of years ago. The story is fairly contained and is quite reasonable. It really just adds a fun new story that isn’t entirely dependent on the main DAI story, just added lore if one is interested.

If you like in-game lore, going on an archiological/historical expedition, and finding out the truth of events of yore this DLC is very fun. Unlike the Descent, I don’t see this one being a major player lore wise in the future so one could skip this if needed. However, the climactic point in the story is quite interesting and I always love the ending sequence of Jaws of Hakkon.

Trespasser

Most people would agree that the Trespasser is an essential for DAI and really is the “true ending” of the game. This is kind of a lame move having a much more in depth ending for DAI behind a DLC at its initial release. However, nowadays with the game of the year edition (and often at a very decent sale price) it isn’t much of an issue.

I won’t spoil much of the story since I was partially spoiled of Trespassers events, but the story brings a close to a lot of the events that occurred in DAI. Trespasser takes place two years in the future in a world where the Inquisition continued to be present and assist the stability efforts in Thedas. Ultimately, I do like that we get to decide the Inquisitions fate and whether or not it should continue or simply disband. Trespasser also leaves a subtle cliffhanger and hint of where the next game will be located. And yes, as of early 2022 this next installment is still in production 😭😑 Tough being a Dragon Age fan, that’s for sure… and that’s all I’ll say on the matter 😑😑

I would agree with the fandom that Trespasser is a necessity of the DAI experience and is executed in a story driven fairly linear manner. For those of you who like the Mass Effect series Trespasser feels similar in terms of navigating the world in a fairly linear manner. I actually wish that more of DAI was executed in this manner because it focusses on the strengths of the Dragon Age series such as storytelling, quality character interactions, and well thought integration of in game lore.

Trespasser has minimal fluff so one can play it without having to needlessly grind, complete a myriad of pointless side quests, or unnecessary locales to explore. This made the pacing enjoyable and honestly I sometimes just want to replay just Trespasser instead of the entirety of the game 😂

Gameplay

Not Bad // Combat Really isn’t a Thing // Difficulty is Meh

Options: Keyboard & Controller

With my first experience of DAI being the PS4 version I played exclusively with a controller. I liked the overall controls and mechanics and nothing appeared clunky or cumbersome. However, the one issue I did encounter with the controller was when there was optional dialogue where it was essentially timed if you would chime in or not and sometimes there was no response with the buttons so I lost out on the ability to chime in to some conversations which was somewhat annoying.

When I played on my PC I played with the keyboard and there is the potential for customizable key binding which I do partake in. The default keyboard is similar yet different to its predecessors which sometimes can throw one off. The dialogue issues I had with the controller were not present while playing with a keyboard. That being said I can comfortably play DAI with a keyboard or a controller it really doesn’t affect the quality of play.

Depending on which class of character you play as there are a few weapon choices for the player. Mages get staffs, rogues get bows or two handed daggers, and warriors get a sword and shield or two handed sword. In inquisition I like to play as a rogue archer I like the options that bows provide. I can play comfortably as a mage as well. My two most disliked weapons are the two handed daggers and two handed sword. I don’t prefer close combat and these two weapon options are the literal personification of close combat readiness.

To be very honest Dragon Age as a combat game to me is not that difficult. I play Hard mode just because I want a bit more of a challenge. I don’t like wasting time with mindless grinding, but I’d at least rather have them be a bit harder than just a full out slaughter on easy mode 😂. It now is more apparent to me that it seems like the enemies aren’t smarter there’s simply just more of them?

At the time I first played it I was more a noob in the gaming world and thought normal was sufficient. Since I first played this, I have played games with more emphases on the quality of weapon and strategy and DAI now feels like a button masher or you spam the same three key moves in most battles. I feel like this is why I have abandoned playing as a mage because this class seems to be the most overpowered and I’d like a bit more of a challenge. Playing as an archer let’s just say we always have an infinite number of arrows, handy? Yes. Reasonable. Not Really. Let’s just say I don’t play DAI for a combat experience; the story is where it’s at 😃

As I have briefly mentioned before there is a level system where you have recommended level ranges to continue with each main story sequence. This game can sometimes become a grinding fest which feels senseless and gets old pretty quickly due to the repetitious nature of the combat system. I think it would have been more appropriate to have our levels correspond with the sets unlocked as the story progressed instead of mindlessly wandering aimlessly in nature just to level up.

Of the game’s mechanics I like how they executed the crafting. You can craft weapons, armor, and potions via supplies acquired or bought throughout the expanse of the game. Each piece you craft or enhance it will require a certain amount and type of supplies. You can craft not only for your character but for your entire squad which is probably a dream come true for the micromanagement-oriented people out there. You can also alter the appearance of your armor color-wise via some supplies which is sometimes quite fun (barring the infamous and ugly plaid weave material). However, crafting does not have to be a time-consuming process. You can still play the game with the generically bought (or looted) weapons and armor in the game.

There are a few other subtle game mechanics that are totally optional in how you traverse the game. One of them is the usage of a mount. I think this is cool but it’s not practical given the general layout of the areas. I personally either use fast travel points or go via foot because I gather every single elf root (or other supplies) for crafting purposes.

Glitch wise I’ve encountered some bugs here and there but nothing that has made me question the game at large. The only moment I can think of was when my character lost the ability to shoot his arrows but I could still run around. Other amusing moments have included weird placements of NPCS and the classic T-Pose.

Graphics, Artistic/Aesthetic Style, & Ambience

Quality Nature Landscapes // Questionable Animations // Colorful

Overall, I’d say the graphics of DAI still hold up fairly well by today’s standards. Most of the nature landscapes are beautiful and are not super repetitious in terms of design and reused areas. Most of the human models look reasonable and not off putting. The graphics as a whole are the best thus far in the Dragon Age series. The NPCs do tend to look awfully similar to one another, it feels like there’s maybe a handful of the same models with the same clothing.

I think the overall animation can come off as a bit stiff but it’s not detract from the overall experience. My one criticism in the Inquisitor kind of as this lumbering walk that bothers me. Both the female and male models from any of the races just don’t really appear to have a natural gait and kind of perpetually appear to have a hunched posture. I think the female model as this problem a bit more prominent than the male model. With that rant over I really don’t have complaints especially given that the game was made in 2014. Technology has changed since then!~

The aesthetics of the game are the most colorful of the series. It definitely is a step away from DAOs dark fantasy vibes and simply goes for high fantasy. There are lots of blue and green undertones but overall is very bright and colorful. I think DAI has the best scenery of the series and every nature location is really visually stimulating and unique.

The outfits in DAI are the best in the series by a long shot (even though there are some questionable color and design choices, looking at you plaidweave and skyhold pajamas 🤣) There are actually decent armor choices and customizable color options for you to choose. Your companions also get a variety of armor choices that are somewhat customized to their looks. Vivienne is our clear winner in the Dragon Age fashion contest haha, I love her design so much!

Would I Still Recommend?

The Dragon Age games’ strengths is its story and ability to have marginal flexibility in how you engage in that story. While there are more RPGs being produced nowadays Bioware had something special going with their creation of the first three Dragon Age games and Mass Effect trilogy. The story telling is so interwoven with the world and the interaction with memorable characters are a quintessential experience for any game from these series.  

It seems to me DAI was at the mercy of some common gaming trends of the time such as “open world = good game” and “a levelling system can make the game last longer”. DAI is not the only game to have suffered from these traits and some recent game releases seem to still adhere to these trends. I think if you play the game knowing there is quite a bit of fluff and are prepared for a few hours of wandering around in the wilderness these things won’t be a heavy hindrance to the overall game experience.

Despite my criticisms the entirety of the Dragon Age Series holds a special place in my heart and I probably think about the in-game lore more than I should 😂 It combines many components of what I find enjoyable in a game: a fantasy setting, interesting and established lore, memorable characters, and an engaging story.

I would not recommend this game for people who are not a fan of story driven games, feel hindered by unnecessary grinding and levelling up, and simply do not like fantasy games. The in-game lore is so important to the story that it can be quite a lot of information to handle so I can see why this could also be dauting for some.

I would say if you are at all a fantasy fan you will most likely like the DAI on its own or the entirety of the series and have a high chance of being sucked into the fandom even if you are a silent onlooker like myself. If you like RPGs this game is also an important game to have in your game collection because the RPG elements coupled with the overarching story make for a really solid experience! If you haven’t tried out this game yet and are even remotely interested, I would highly recommend it!~

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