Dragon Age: Inquisition Review

With Dragon Age 4 on the horizon, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at Dragon Age: Inquisition in its complete form. When discussing the game, I will be factoring in all the story DLC packs: Jaws of Hakkon, Descent, and TrespasserFor those unfamiliar with the series, Dragon Age is a fantasy RPG with tactical elements. You control a party of four, with each character falling into one of the standard warrior, rogue, or mage classes. You only control one character at a time, but can pause and issue commands. As you fight and complete quests, your characters level up and gain new abilities. It is pretty standard affair. 

In just one example of the player agency that makes this series so special, you do create your own character. While the creator seems to suffer from the too frequent “terrible hairstyles” problem, it shouldn’t be too hard to create a character you’re satisfied with. My first Inquisitor ended up being one of my favorite characters I ever made. Of course, that wasn’t only because I liked how he looked. Dragon Age’s dialogue, story and romance choices go a long way in helping you create a character in the way that you want. And that really is Dragon Age’s greatest strength: feeling like you’re directly involved in and influencing events. 

In terms of Inquisition itself, the story starts with a literal explosion that kills everyone, besides the player character, at a conclave and also tears a hole in the Veil, a force that separates the spiritual dream world, the Fade, from the physical world. The immediate goal is to figure out why you were the sole survivor and close the breach between the two worlds. As for combat, your experience will likely depend on what you prefer. Dragon Age: Origins had very in-depth, but slow combat, while Dragon Age II had more streamlined, flashy combat. Inquisition aims for somewhere in the middle and mostly succeeds. If you found the combat in one of the previous games to be perfect though, you may be a little let down by Inquisition‘s middle of the road approach. Regardless, while it may not be perfect for everyone, the combat works effectively. 

The story and characters of Inquisition is really where it shines. The approval system from Origins is mostly back, which means your party members, even when they are not present when you make a decision, will still have an opinion on it. While rare, if a companion’s approval drops too low, they can leave the party. You can also do various quests for your team in order to gain their approval. With high enough approval, you can enter into a relationship with one of your party members. Not every party member can be romanced, but some non-party members can be. In total, there is one straight woman, one bi woman, one gay woman, one gay man, one bi man, and three straight men. The options are a little unbalanced, but they do cover a variety of sexualities.

The one part Inquisition struggles with is its quests. The game requires you to do a certain amount of side content before it lets you proceed to the next main quest. The side quests are mostly terrible and fetch quest-y. And because these quests pad out the runtime, Inquisition feels relatively short if you’re just doing the quests that actually have substance. I eventually learned that fighting high dragons was the fastest way to move onto the main quests. Unfortunately, you can’t fight your first dragon until around level twelve, so you’ll be completing menial tasks for awhile to get through the game.  The sidequest system may seem like a deal breaker, but it is less of one than you may think. The reason for this is because every other aspect of the game is very high quality. I was really disappointed with the game when I first played it, but on repeat plays in which I understood the best ways to avoid the more shallow content, I just couldn’t help but be impressed by the cutscenes, the dialogue, and the music. The artistic direction is just amazing. And as I touched on previously, the freedom in the way you can play character is also fantastic. The bad sidequests will always be an annoyance, but you eventually learn how to bypass them for the most part and all that’s left are the extremely high quality scenes, characters, and music. The combat is also left, but that’s inoffensive, neither really making the game better or worse.

Regarding the DLC packs, most of them are pretty forgettable, but there are parts that set up some very significant things for the future. Jaws of Hakkon is a fun little diversion, but largely insignificant. Descent can feel like a bit of a chore, but has a plot with what seems to be significant ramifications. Trespasser, however, is an entirely different beast. Trespasser has significant character interactions and plot points. The one failing of Trespasser though is that these significant moments bookend the DLC, leaving the middle, most lengthy part feeling a bit unsubstational. Not helping is what appears to be a glaring inconsistency with pre-established lore. However, and I cannot stress this enough, the DLC ends with what is perhaps the best set up for a sequel I have seen in any medium ever. It is emotionally resonant and is scored by one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard in a video game soundtrack.  I cannot overstate how good the ending is. It doesn’t feel like a cliffhanger either. It feels like a set up. You don’t feel cheated like it is an obvious cash in so you buy the next game. Do not play Inquisition without Trespasser. Not just because of the superb ending, but also because just owning the DLC opens up new upgrade choices for your abilities throughout the entire game.

Overall, Dragon Age: Inquisition’s quality will  largely depend on how much you enjoy sidequests as only the companion sidequests really hold any substance. Should you be able to get past that, you will find a game with brilliant art and story direction and interesting characters and player freedom. And if you have Trespasser, you have the added bonus of one of the best endings ever.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Review
  • Gameplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sound - 8/10
    8/10
  • Replay Value - 8/10
    8/10
  • Story - 8/10
    8/10
Overall
8/10

Summary

Should you be able to get past the shallow sidquests, you will find a game with brilliant art and story direction, and interesting characters and player freedom. And if you have Trespasser, you have the added bonus of one of the best endings ever.