You might notice that I haven’t posted anything on here in a little while. Well, I’m laying the blame for that firmly at Dragon Age Inquisition’s doorstep. It’s a quite unexpected turn of events, really, as I’ve found previous installments very hard to love.
On paper the series has always seemed like it would be right up my alley; a dark fantasy world, a simple yet deep combat system, wanton dragon slaying, and a liberal application of medieval how’s-your-father. Truth be told, I’m not really all that interested in the latter as such, but being able to woo and bed members of your party is something the series is renowned for, and I just wanted an excuse to use the phrase ‘how’s-your-father’ in a sentence. Of course, the games themselves are brazenly adult, and rarely hide behind such obscure euphemisms.
My many attempts to get into both the original Dragon Age and its sequel have all ended in abject failure. The fundamental turn off for me has always the difficulty of the combat early on. The thing is, because you only control one party member at a time and effectively just manage the rest, it’s easy to feel a bit cheated when things go wrong
My experience of Dragon Age Inquisition has been markedly different, but it almost wasn’t. Initially, each and every attempt to close one of the game’s many fade rifts went right down to the wire, and ‘your jounrney ends’ graced my screen maddeningly frequently. I came very close to giving in, but the ‘In Hushed Whispers’ quest changed everything. It hinted at the enormity of what was just around the corner, moved the narrative forward in such a way that I actually started to care about what was happening, and combat suddenly became far less of a chore.
Now I’m 50+ hours in, purposefully prolonging the endgame, currently prepping my party for a showdown with the last of the optional and extremely powerful High Dragons, the Highland Ravager. I was able to simply blag my way through the first 5, but my progress stalled somewhat on the 6th, Visnomer. From her onwards, I’ve had to meticulously prepare for each confrontation; crafting high end weapons and armour, and scouring Fereldan for herbs with which to upgrade my resistance tonics. Sounds like one wild Saturday night, right?
One advantage modern RPGs have over their older stablemates is that they do at least make an effort to mix up late game tasks so as to reduce mindless grinding. As much as I love Final Fantasy VII, for example, I’ve never defeated Emerald or Ruby Weapon, nor ever procured a Gold Chocobo, Knights of The Round or Omnislash because getting any or all of these would involve far more repetition than I can stomach. By contrast, I’ve done pretty much everything of any real significance in Dragon Age Inquisition, save for the aforementioned 10th High Dragon and the final story quest. There are probably a few morsels of XP left to hoover up in the form of silly chores here and there, plus a temple I could collect scattered shards of something (I can’t remember what) to unlock, but as I said before, my patience for such things has its limits.
I don’t think I’ll be playing through Dragon Age Inquisition again from scratch, probably ever, but I’ll hold onto it after completion in anticipation of Bioware’s as yet unclear DLC plans. Here’s hoping they see fit to offer further opportunities for slaying some of the series’ titular fire-breathers. So far, that’s been the best part of an already pretty spiffing RPG.