Dragon Age: Inquisition - Game of the Year Edition

Upon the release of the first sequel in BioWare’s Dragon Age series, many saw the franchise as having something of an “identity crisis,” given that the second game received significantly less favorable reception than its predecessor. Fortunately, BioWare listened to the feedback for the second installment to produce a third game combining the strongest elements of the first two entries, titled Dragon Age: Inquisition, released for Microsoft and Sony platforms. When the third title received critical acclaim, BioWare fell victim to the nasty habit of releasing an “enhanced” edition of the game some time after the original release called Dragon Age: Inquisition – Game of the Year Edition (this review covering the PlayStation 4 port), which has plenty going for it.

When starting a new game, players create a protagonist known as the Inquisitor who can be a warrior, rogue, or mage, each class with their own strengths and weaknesses, and can go on various missions for the titular Inquisition, up to three companions of the aforementioned classes allowed, with this reviewer eventually settling for a party of a warrior Inquisitor with a rogue and two mages. The player by default controls the Inquisitor, with various A.I. options available for the rest of the party, and leveling allowing players to invest a point into a class’s various skill branches to unlock further means by which to slaughter the enemy.

As with most Western RPGs, battles occur in real-time, with fighting mode triggered whenever the player draws near enemies, with the Inquisitor having a basic attack alongside various skills assigned to different buttons and combinations of buttons. Aside from killing enemies, doing things such as reading backstory-espousing texts and completing mission objectives rewards players with experience, with the gameplay, alongside the adjustable difficulty accommodating gamers of different skill levels providing for a satisfying experience, although the ability to make better use of reserve party members alongside active confederates, given the size of the playable cast, would have definitely been welcome.

Inquisition generally does a good job pointing characters in the right direction with regards to the countless sidequests and story missions necessary to advance the central narrative, although one feature easy to overlook is the ability of the controlled character to unleash a “search ring” to detect hidden features of the various environments, often critical to fulfilling objectives. There’s also the fact that the radar on the main gameplay screen only shows the relative direction to locations necessary to advance objectives, with players needing to access the game’s primary interface in order to bring up an actual map of the area with more detail. Regardless, interaction doesn’t leave too much room for improvement, and the game further does a good job avoiding “points of no return” prevalent in certain RPG franchises necessitating multiple save files.

Like its predecessors, Inquisition weaves an intriguing narrative that ultimately relays the chosen protagonist’s backstory, with potential variations and plenty of dialogue choices affecting the course of the storyline throughout the game, alongside plentiful background to the game’s world revealed through texts scattered across fields and throughout dungeons. That many characters sometimes refer to female characters as “sir” is somewhat awkward, and there are occasional nods to fantasy series such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire such as the spelling of the knightly “sir” being “ser.” Furthermore, the lack of prominent connection to previous games in the series is both a good and bad thing, with players fortunately not needing to play them to comprehend the plot, although diehard fans of the first two games might be in for slight disappointment. Even so, the plotline is solid.

As seems to be the case with most Western RPGs, unfortunately, the soundtrack leaves plenty to desire, with only occasional pieces during navigation that aren’t terribly memorable, with the music at most points feeling phoned-in. The voice acting, however, is excellent as is expected of any game with adult characters, with nary a dull performance throughout the third game. Overall, the music might not win any awards, but the voicework, however, probably would.

Inquisition uses a realistic graphical style that generally looks appealing, with believable character models and expressions, not to mention convincing environments, although there are occasional technical hiccups such as choppiness and parts of scenery sometimes seeming to pop up instantly.

Finally, blazing straight through the third game can take a little over a day, although this reviewer devoted a fair share of his playtime to sidequests to clock in at a little more than two days’ worth of time; total completion can potentially consume three days total.

Overall, Dragon Age: Inquisition – Game of the Year Edition is for the most part a solid Western roleplaying game that hits most of the right notes regarding aspects such as its quick and largely painless battle system, abundance of sidequests, enjoyable storyline with potential variations, superb voice acting, and pleasant visuals. There are areas that leave room for improvement such as most playable characters being confined to the sidelines during the gameplay, interface issues such as the ease of overlooking the search function and need to open the game menus to view the current area’s map, the phoned-in music typical of Western RPG land, and technical hiccups regarding the visuals. Even so, both those who enjoyed the third entry’s predecessors and players new to the series will likely have a good time with this title, which definitely deserved its Game of the Year status.

The Good:
+Solid battle system.
+Tons of sidequests.
+Great narrative with potential variations.
+Superb voicework.
+Good graphics.

The Bad:
-A tad too many playable characters.
-Search function easy to overlook.
-Need to open menus to look at current area’s map.
-Phoned-in soundtrack.
-Some graphical blemishes.

The Bottom Line:
Another enjoyable Western RPG.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 4
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 8/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: 1-3 Days

Overall: 8.5/10

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