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Dragon Age: Inquisition

12/10/2014 8:14:23 PM
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Dragon Age is a role-playing game (RPG) franchise set in the rich fantasy world of Thedas, with different countries, clans and races, and with stories as expansive as those in the Lord Of The Rings fantasy universe.

 

I have been looking forward to a new instalment for the past three years, having played Dragon Age: Origins and its successor, Dragon Age 2, along with all the available expansion packs.

So, it was with much relish that I loaded up the franchise's latest and third release, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

A note for new gamers: Before starting, you should go to Dragon Age Keep (dragonagekeep.com) to customise the game world. You will need an Electronic Arts' Origin account to log in.

As I had played the previous games under a single Origin account, all of my settings were automatically carried over. I could make further adjustments, such as bring back a certain non-player character (NPC) who died in my previous game.

Once you are happy with your game world, proceed to create your character. You can choose your race, gender, class and modify your character's face to your liking.

Each decision you make, even at this stage, will have consequences. The NPCs react differently when you are a human warrior or an elven mage.

The action picks up right after the events of Dragon Age 2, when war breaks out between the mages and templars. Divine Justinia, head of the Chantry, calls for a peace summit between the mages and the templars. At the summit, a huge explosion kills everyone except your character.

Rifts begin to form in the sky, raining demons on Thedas. Your character's left hand has a glowing green scar with the power to close the rifts.

You are then saved from the Chantry's prosecution by Cassandra, the Right Hand to the Divine. She invokes the Inquisition, a military order meant to restore peace.

With your power to close the rifts, you thus become the Inquisitor. You then embark on a journey which will take you through a vast interactive world. You will be making tough decisions and facing fierce battles as you seek to bring peace and order back to Thedas.

You play the game from the third-person perspective. You control a party of four, including your character.

Controls are easy to use on the PC. You move using the W, A, S and D keys on your keyboard. You turn the camera by right-clicking and moving your mouse. You zoom with the mouse's scroll wheel.

When it comes to combat, you can opt for real-time hack-and-slash combat or bring up the tactical camera.

The tactical camera gives you a top-down view and pauses combat, thereby allowing you to issue orders to your party members before proceeding with the battle.

Dragon Age 2 was criticised for having a small game world. Inquisition answers those criticisms in a big way.

The Hinterlands, the first area you explore, is bigger than the first two games combined. It is so big that there are now mounts, such as horses and harts, for you to travel faster. Exploring one area could take at least two hours.

There are wet marshes, scorching deserts, snow mountains and stormy coasts. You can collect materials, metals and other artefacts which let you craft runes, weapons and armour.

Exploring never got tiring for me. The environment is so detailed and the graphics are so gorgeous that I found myself stopping often to admire them. I gawked at the dragons' scales and dungeon walls.

I savoured details such as a nearby firelight reflecting off a character's armour. I also enjoyed the majestic-sounding orchestral game music. Sound effects, from the thump of your mace to the electric buzz of your mage's lightning bolt, adds to the game's tension.

Then, there are the superb dialogues which pepper the game. Your character and nearly every NPC always seem to have something interesting and witty to say. You will not hear monotonic utterances in this game.

You make tough decisions during the dialogues, which will affect how the story evolves and how others react to you. You can start a romance with an NPC by flirting or making decisions which align to his or her beliefs. Other NPCs can see you like someone and even intervene.

From these dialogues, you get your quests, as well as side quests, which might seem insignificant at first, but could turn out otherwise.

You can even delegate some of the quests to members of your War Council (you are the Inquisitor, after all). It is good to have them work behind the scenes while you explore another area. Indeed, you can set them to work while you (not your character) catch up on your sleep.

You can recruit up to nine NPCs. However, only three can accompany you when you explore Thedas and go into battle.

A tip: Switch your party members so you can hear the hilarious banter among them.

It is also important to strategise and pick the right mix of members. My character is a warrior, so I always have a rogue in my group to pick locks and a mage for ranged attack.

I did not manage to try the multi-player option. The single-player mode was so engaging that it was all I could play during the review period.

Just the main storyline quests will probably take you at least 40 hours to complete. If you like to explore every corner in Thedas or loot everything you find (and you will want to do so), be prepared to spend 100 hours or more.

Of course, there are some minor bugs, such as floating characters and the occasional crash of the game. Just save often and you are ready to go again.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is simply the best role-playing game I have played and a contender for the best game for this year.

Rating 10/10

  • $69.90 (PC, version tested); $79.90 (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One)
  • Role-playing

 
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