Dragon Age: In­qui­si­tion

Ages and ages and ages

SFX - - Rated / Videogames Miscellaneous -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

For­mat re­viewed: PS4 Also avail­able on: PS3, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC Pub­lisher: EA

Wak­ing up

with the oblig­a­tory am­ne­sia after the sky tore open and killed ev­ery­one in your vicin­ity, your hero or hero­ine in the third part of Bioware’s RPG se­ries finds them­self in a game that seems out of ideas be­fore it even be­gins. The green por­tals through which wraiths and demons are spilling out are es­sen­tially The Elder Scrolls’ Obliv­ion Gates, and for the first hour you can almost say each character’s next line be­fore they do, such is the well- trav­elled nar­ra­tive path on which the story be­gins. Game Of Thrones it ain’t.

The big­ger prob­lem with Dragon Age: In­qui­si­tion’s open­ing, though, is how poorly it ex­plains its myr­iad sys­tems, and how lit­tle in­cen­tive you’re given to ex­plore them. Our first ten hours were spent almost ex­clu­sively hoard­ing iron, el­f­root and leather sim­ply be­cause the bar­rage of col­lectable- based quests told us to. Oc­ca­sion­ally we’d gain + 1 power, or some in­flu­ence points, and not know what to do with them other than col­lect­ing more. Back to strip- min­ing the area of re­sources, then.

When you fi­nally sat­isfy Bioware’s de­mand that you play dress- up as an As­sas­sin’s Creed level- jan­i­tor tidy­ing up the mini- map of de­tri­tus for a few hours, DA: I im­proves ex­po­nen­tially. The me­ters and gauges that once baf­fled now form an in­ter­est­ing strate­gic layer, power be­ing a kind of cur­rency used to per­form op­er­a­tions in per­son, or via agents on your be­half. You are the leader of the In­qui­si­tion, after all, and you’re the only one with the power to close the Fade Rift por­tals – you’re kind of a big deal.

Less jovial and colour­ful than Dragon Age II’s cast, the sup­port­ing roles of the In­qui­si­tion don’t re­ally emerge as en­gag­ing char­ac­ters un­til a cou­ple of won­der­ful story mis­sions that take sud­den di­ver­sions into un­charted ter­ri­tory. Th­ese are built upon by in­creas­ingly fo­cused pri­mary quests that do the near- im­pos­si­ble and make you care about the peo­ple who pre­vi­ously only seemed to ex­ist to get you dig­ging for herbs and col­lect­ing shards.

Dragon Age: In­qui­si­tion is almost a mas­ter­ful RPG. With time your early frus­tra­tions seem almost in­signif­i­cant, but they can’t be for­got­ten en­tirely. Phil Iwaniuk

Mi­randa Rai­son, voice of Cas­san­dra Pen­taghast, played Tal­lu­lah in Doc­tor Who two- parter “Daleks In Man­hat­tan”.

Our first ten hours were spent hoard­ing iron

This dragon would like you to col­lect ten pieces of iron. Or else.

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