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Dragon Age: Inquisition Review

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November 18, 2014

The Hinterlands beckon. But in the back of your mind, you might be remembering BioWare’s slight misstep with Dragon Age II ; you might wonder if the developer has continued down an unappealing path. At the same time, a little voice cries out with undying hope and optimism: “Maybe it’s the true successor to Dragon Age: Origins !” Well, in a year that hasn’t quite delivered the monstrous “next-gen” jaw-dropping experiences, you might be reluctant to embrace that hope. Ah, but the year isn’t quite over yet and this time, BioWare has made good on its promises.

To be clear, Dragon Age has never really busted down graphical barriers. The games have always looked good but they’re not known for being visual tour de forces. The same holds true here. Inquisition takes advantage of the extra power offered in the new consoles but it still won’t paralyze you with awe and admiration. Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely no comparison to either Origins or DAII but now we’re seeing hugely ambitious presentations like Assassin’s Creed Unity and beautifully honed, big-budget greatness in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare .

As such, in direct comparison to other current next-gen titles, the new Dragon Age doesn’t claim the graphics crown. What it does do, however, is provide the player with a sweeping, epic, wildly immersive atmosphere that epitomizes the term “fantasy.” When one thinks of a fantasy role-playing game ala “Dungeons and Dragons,” this is precisely what one envisions: Gorgeous vistas, hardy little towns, forests rife with wildlife and even grandeur, dank, intimidating caverns, and wonderfully detailed creatures, both mythical and otherwise. The frame rate isn’t perfect and neither are the textures, and the cut-scenes aren’t quite up to snuff from a new-era standpoint.

Those are hardly deal-breakers, though. As for the sound, the balancing isn’t flawless and surrounding ambient noises can occasionally drown out character voices. But a majestic score will accompany your every step and there are some great acting performances as well. It’s all the more impressive considering the sheer amount of dialogue; with so many characters, choices, and situations, it’s amazing that just about every line is delivered confidently and professionally. The effects have been updated as well and although they can take center-stage, they often meld beautifully with that soundtrack, which matches the ebb and flow of exploration and combat. Audio-wise, it's every inch the epic RPG, despite a few drawbacks.

But really, if you’re blissfully absorbed, why sweat the small stuff? I’ll elaborate on that philosophy in my upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity review but for now, let’s explain why Dragon Age: Inquisition is in line for multiple Game of the Year honors from numerous sources. This is a wonderfully huge, sprawling adventure within the intriguing world of Thedas. It features all the hefty role-playing depth for which fans of the genre pine, it offers all the exploration we missed in the previous iteration, it gives us a shifting, intriguing, well-written storyline, and the end result is a gargantuan achievement.