Developer(s) – Bioware
Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts
Writer – David Gaider
Winning several gaming awards upon it’s release, including game of the year for 2014, Dragon Age Inquisition carries on the events of the first two games, only including a brand new story premise as well as new and improved gameplay mechanics, much to my personal satisfaction. Though I don’t think I’m able to call this the best video game of 2014, by some distance that honour would go to InFamous: Second Son in my opinion, it’s certainly better than what I expected, and effectively addresses the issue with the dreaded gameplay formula I talked extensively about last week.
Graphics – 7/10
After having played this game, I’ve been surprised to find that I would be voicing concerns about one aspect of it that I thought there would be no problems with, and praising another aspect that I initially thought I would have issues with. Bioware had persistent problems with the loading of graphical textures in their games throughout the seventh generation, but they weren’t really noticeable enough to cause too many issues. However, even on more advanced hardware, these problems persist, and to about the same extent. It’s barely noticeable on either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but my advice would be to avoid the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions like the plague, since not only is this problem far more noticeable, but it also seems to effect the game’s frame rate at times. Otherwise, on a conceptual level, it’s a fairly unique take on the pseudo-medieval fantasy world synonymous with many other games, since it also includes a unique race of people called the Qunari, who can be best described as a hybrid of humans and dragons.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
After having played the previous two games, which perpetuated my concerns over combining elements of both turn-based RPG combat and real-time combat, I was actually pretty impressed by how Bioware had taken that formula and re-worked it for Inquisition. Rather than playing out like Final Fantasy XII, it actually plays out a lot more like a cross between Fable and Mass Effect 3, which in all honesty, is only a good thing the way I see it. Not only has the combat system improved, but it also feels like much less of a linear game than the original Dragon Age, since additional quests can be done much earlier on, and quests can be undertaken as and when players choose to.
Controls – 9/10
The control scheme is also well handled, except for one potentially game-breaking glitch. At times, I found that I couldn’t select potions from my inventory and use them to restore health, despite the fact that I had some in stock. I fast-travelled to a nearby came and the issue was resolved, but whether it may happen again at a crucial time, who’s to say? Otherwise, however, there are no other issues to address.
Lifespan – 9/10
Also, like Mass Effect and the other Dragon Age games before them, this game will last around 40 to 50 hours for gamers looking to accomplish everything there is to accomplish in it. For an RPG in particular, this is a very impressively long time, and it makes me wish that most other mainstream titles released yearly can be made to last as long as this. InFamous: Second Son had a very adequate lifespan, but the likes of The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls do not, and have suffered as a result in my opinion.
Storyline – 7/10
Though it is extremely similar to Mass Effect 3, the storyline does indeed have it’s merits, and does well to maintain the dark and gritty realism, which was perpetuated by the preceding two games in the series. The plot follows a customisable character, who discovers he has the power to close rifts throughout the land, which causes demons of the Fade to pour through. He/she does this by using a mark on his hand that appeared after he survived a powerful rift blast, and discovers that the mark may kill him in time. Along with an assortment of allies, he resolves to revive an order called the Inquisition to combat the Fade and bring peace to the land. There are a good few twists and turns towards the end of the game, and provides an adequate amount of fan service, as well as effectively introduce newcomers to the series.
Originality – 6/10
There aren’t many games to have come and gone that have quelled my concerns over the gameplay style this title alludes to, but there have been countless video games released throughout the years to have made use of a medieval fantasy world. Games doing this seemed to spike upwards sharply following the release of the Lord of the Rings films, and there are still many others beside this to do it to this day. Mass Effect has always done better to stand out among sci-fi media (indeed, I think the conceptual design is even better than that of Star Wars), but there’s nothing in this game or the Dragon Age series in general, to say that it’s conceptual design is better than the likes of The Lord of the Rings or even Willow.
Overall, Dragon Age Inquisition, despite its flaws, is still a far better game than I expected it would be. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the best game of 2014, it’s certainly an enjoyable title, and the best entry in the Dragon Age series by some distance.