A SPRAWLING RPG adventure that largely meets its own grand ambitions
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / PC
DRAGON Age: Inquisition is a mind bogglingly vast enterprise which makes the game world of Skyrim look like a bustling village. Essentially a collection of enormous open world environments stitched together by a traditional RPG narrative, its scale is unprecedented and daunting, given the promise of playthroughs lasting more than 100 hours. But it is not a game that overwhelms, thanks to the multitude of quests, activities and challenges which saturate every nook and cranny of its fantasy realm.
Set against a backdrop of war between two groups - the mages and templars - the story underpinning Inquisition is detailed and leaves much unexplained, meaning that those who have played previous games in the series will get the best out of it. The script is largely a wooden affair but newcomers and veterans alike will find plenty to appreciate and mull over in a game which explores concepts and themes such as religious fundamentalism as the journey unfolds.
Customisation options feel expansive, not superfluous
And it is a rich and diverse journey: there is a staggering about things to do and see in Inquisition and a wealth of ways in which to customise your warrior. Quite how much you get out of this will depend on your investment in the game. It is entirely possible to progress through the campaign without blinging up your throne, for instance, but such options feel expansive, not superfluous. This level of detail is also exemplified in the various areas you traverse through, each of which enjoy unique, vibrant designs and colour palettes, especially the treacherous forest lands.
What impresses most about the game is the way it explores the use - and misuse - of power. As you acquire influence, the have the option of ruling with a velvet glove or an iron fist. This manifests itself in the player’s dealing with their advisors over the aptly named War Table, but truly comes into its own during trials, when the player sits atop a throne and is asked to hand down verdicts. The cases are more nuanced than those in the Fable games and the crimes the accused are alleged to have committed can be ambiguous, so making a decision feels vital, not least given how it will affect your standing among people in the wider world.
The tactical camera can hinder at times when it is supposed to help
Some players may favour the traditional combat approach, which is solid without being innovative, but Bioware have also reskinned the tactical camera from earlier in the series. When faced with multiple enemies - which is very common - the perspective shifts from the third person to a top down view, allowing you to plan the next move of each member of your party, adding a strategic element to battles. That, at least, is the theory; sometimes the camera fails to marry up to the scope of a battlefield, meaning you are at risk of being caught out by an unexpected attack unless you constantly pan all around.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
It might save time, but don’t use the automatic levelling up feature for your party. Choosing powers and abilities for each character will provide you with a much stronger, purposeful unit.
Use the environment to your advantage in battles, especially alongside the top down tactical camera. A handily placed wall can help protect your party.
If you are short of materials for crafting, remember you can buy them from select vendors.