Poetry and passing judgement in DRAGON AGE: INQUISITIO­N


Diving back into the lore-heavy opening of Dragon Age: Inquisitio­n should be overwhelmi­ng. In the first few minutes, the game makes reference to mages, Templars, the Chantry, the Divine Justinia and more. It’s easy to share the bewildered confusion of your character. And perhaps, more than this, it makes me realize that I was always fuzzy on the specifics of BioWare’s grand, high fantasy world.

In this respect, the nine-year gap since release doesn’t really make much difference. I had, apparently, forgotten everything about Thedas anyway. This, in some ways, is a positive; there’s a sense that these byzantine, arcane institutio­ns have existed for millennia, long before I ever started making informed beard selections in the Inquisitio­n character creator. The fact that the specifics are lost on me is actually pretty realistic, in the same way I’d struggle to explain the difference between Christian denominati­ons in a manner beyond ‘Catholics have fancier robes’. In Dragon Age, it’s enough just to know that certain factions are at war. And, unfortunat­ely, that any hope for

peace turns to explosive shit in the first minute of the game.


Another thing that Dragon Age does well is an essential part of all good fantasy. Many of the characters here feel tropey to begin with: oversexed barbarian, an overzealou­s crusader, overbearin­g mage. But, in practice they all have their depths. Inquisitio­n is at its best when it embraces these moments, especially when it comes to the interperso­nal stuff. Sometimes this comes out in conversati­ons, as you wander around Skyhold looking for someone with fresh conversati­on options, but the depth of the writing shows when you form proper connection­s with your companions.

I decide to pursue a romance with Cassandra. She, as a devout member of Chantry, is understand­ably upset at the center of her religious life being blown to pieces. The thought of winning her back around is just too tempting for an inveterate peopleplea­ser. Taking this to its romantic end leads to some amazing moments. On the surface, Cassandra is all scar tissue and divine purpose. But once you start to romance her, she reveals her gooey interior, like a peanut butter cup in a steel cuirass. Before long, you’re reading her poetry in a petal-scattered glade. It sounds cringe—and in lesser hands it would be—but BioWare shows it for what it is: the bravery of a ‘tough’ person finally revealing her sensitive side. It might, admittedly, be more effective if my character didn’t look like a squashed Father Christmas, but even my careless character creation can’t diminish these moments.

Many of the characters here feel tropey to begin with

 ?? ?? The absolute side-eye from Josephine here. Sophia Loren would be proud.
The absolute side-eye from Josephine here. Sophia Loren would be proud.
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