Two years ago – about six months after we moved into our new house – I participated in the “It only happens twice a year gift exchange event” with my college roommates and the one random guy who keeps showing up to our holiday parties. The rules of the gift exchange are simple. We all get the same gift, hand it to another participant and continue redistributing gifts until each participant ends up with exactly one. When it first began we usually purchase each other the same video game such as ‘The Orange Box’, ‘Command and Conquer : Generals’ or ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’. Since kids and budgets and new game consoles have come along this strategy no longer works so today have a policy of exchanging Amazon.com gift cards. In late 2014 I still hadn’t purchased any games for my PS4 so I spent my entire gift card on Dragon Age : Inquisition. I didn’t know anything about the Dragon Age series other than the fact that people seem to like it and it has the word Dragon in the title. Dragons sounded cool, and I wasn’t aware of anything else coming out for the PS4 any time soon.
My daughter was about 5 months old when I started the game. To celebrate my newborn child I created a lady elf warrior and named her after my daughter. I played through the first area of the game but I found the tutorial to be lacking and I never understood what was going on. I put the game down for a few weeks and when I came back I had forgotten what little I knew. It’s hard to find the time to play a game with a newborn in the house and it’s hard to feel motivated to do so when you keep forgetting how the game is played. My enthusiasm for the game suffered and after a few price drops I experienced buyer’s remorse.
Every once in awhile I picked up the game again and made some progress. The game consists of several large (and I mean LARGE) areas that you can explore that each have dozens of missions to be completed. I’d start the game up, run a few missions and then take a few weeks off. The game is so vast that I usually didn’t feel like I was making any positive progress towards the eventual ending. Running quests was ‘OK’ but often it just felt like busy work. Towards the end of the game I was surprised to find that my views on this had changed. I actually liked completing all of the stupid little missions, and exploring all of the maps.
The game is full of many memorable moments and after I recalled that the PS4 has a share button I started posting a few of them to my Twitter feed. Once such moment occurred when I was taking a stroll on a beach and happened upon a giant punching a Dragon IN THE FACE.
It was clear to me early on that at least some the characters in this game had been in previous games in the series. The back of the game case said ‘Meet Legends’ but I wasn’t sure who was supposed to be a legend or not. I didn’t know who any of these schmucks were! You can recruit nine different playable companions to your cause, most of whom seemed pretty cool. It also turns out that you can choose to romance one of your companions (or some of the NPC characters). There is even a trophy for committing to a long term relationship. Since I wanted the trophy I found myself in the somewhat uncomfortable position of choosing a romantic partner for a woman named after my daughter. I didn’t like it but eventually I settled on commander Cullen, one of the NPC advisors. He seemed like the most honorable choice that didn’t have a porn-star beard.
After I started really getting into the game and beginning my final push towards completing it I became obsessed with doing things the ‘right’ way. Events can unfold different depending on how you handle some of the situations that come up in the game. Your companions may either grow to like or dislike you depending on how you converse with them. Whenever a speech bubble popped up I’d always pause the game and look up the consequences of the various answers on the web before continuing. My goal was to not miss out on anything in the game (especially those trophies) but this ended up partially ruining the experience for me. I shouldn’t have worried about making the right choices. Instead I should have owned the choices that I made and lived with the consequences. It would have been more realistic and more fun.
I usually didn’t let the kids watch when I played this game, unless I knew nothing horrible was going to happen (This game is rated M). My daughter (who is now 2) was a big fan since the main character was named after her. She’d walk in while I was playing, point and say “That’s me!!”. Now that I’ve finished with the game she’s seemed pretty disappointed to find me playing other things on my Playstation.
Since I didn’t really know what was going on most of the game I avoided spending skill points, crafting weapons/armor or choosing a specialization until I felt like I absolutely had to. My inventory was always full of items that I wasn’t sure if I should hold on to or not. Eventually I’d stored up about 18 unused skill points and spent them all at once. Suddenly I had TOO MANY skills and it took some trial and error to find a set of abilities that I liked. My favorite was the ‘Charging Bull’ ability that had my warrior dashing into danger like the late Mr. Jenkins of World of Warcraft fame.
My first impression of Dragon Age was poor but after I understood enough about the game to play it intelligently I started to enjoy it more. It’s a solid game but I can’t recommend it to everyone because there is a time investment required to acquaint the player with how the game is played. This isn’t a pick-it-up-and-go title, it’s a read-the-strategy-guide-first kind of game. I don’t plan on holding on to my copy, or playing any other games in the series. If another Dragon Age game comes out some day I may look into it but for now I’m (finally) done.
- Is it fun: Yes
- Score: 8/10
- Length: ~110 hours
- System: Playstation 4
- Genre: Action / RPG