Game review: Dragon Age: Inquisition

While the missions and the overarching plot are compelling, simply roaming around Thedas is a pure delight.
Dragon Age: Inquisition offers dozens of hours of immersive gameplay in a beautifully rendered fantasy world. Courtesy BioWare
Dragon Age: Inquisition offers dozens of hours of immersive gameplay in a beautifully rendered fantasy world. Courtesy BioWare

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Electronic Arts

Four stars

Take The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time and pretty much every other epic fantasy of the last century. Throw in a shelf-full of Dungeons & Dragons manuals and a library of classic role-playing games dating back to 1981’s Wizardry and Ultima. Mix vigorously, and you have some idea of what to expect from Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The latest RPG from BioWare, the Canadian developer known for such landmark games as Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, is a sprawling creation that builds on all of those successes.

It has vistas of eye-popping grandeur but allows for quiet moments shared by characters. It lets you compete in fast-paced battles or idly pick out drapes for your castle. It offers a cosmic good-vs-evil apocalypse along with more mundane struggles between its flawed, mortal ­heroes.

The protagonist, the Inquisitor, can be male or female, one of four races (human, elf, dwarf or the bull-like qunari) and one of three classes (mage, warrior or ranger).

The continent of Thedas has been beset by rifts that allow demons to enter from another dimension – only the Inquisitor has the power to close them. What’s behind the rifts? The answer comes about 30 hours into the game – at which point Inquisition is still only about a third of the way done.

Not even the Inquisitor can save the world alone, and a huge part of the game’s appeal is in its supporting cast. My favourites were the rakish mage Dorian and the haunted assassin Cole, but each of your cohorts has such a distinct personality that you’ll want to spend time getting to know all of them. You can take three of them on each mission and it is fascinating to watch them interact.

They usually fend for themselves in combat, though you can pause the action to give them orders. Once your characters build up some skills, the battles are usually over in short order – but defeating thick-skinned dragons requires the ability to switch quickly among your four fighters.

While the missions and the overarching plot are compelling, simply roaming around Thedas is a pure delight. It’s a huge continent, and the only way to see it all is to start walking. It’s thrilling to discover an ancient ruin in a desert, or a mysterious shrine in a cave – and then realise you’ve stumbled upon another mystery that could take hours to solve.

This is the work of a studio at the top of its game. Having invested 100 hours in it, we’d be happy to keep playing for another 100.

• Dragon Age: Inquisition is available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC. Visit www.dragonage.com for more details

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: November 24, 2014 04:00 AM

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