Simply stated: Dragon Age: Inquisition is the best game I’ve played in a long, long time. It was so good, that now that I’ve finished, (twice! After I finished the first time, I loaded a save from several days prior and did several companion quests, finished up some loose ends, and finished the main storyline a different way), I am kindof on a Dragon Age hangover. I really just haven’t been in the mood to play anything. Since I’m not in the mood to play, I figure I better write about it!
I loved the original, Dragon Age: Origins. It is one of the few games I’d played where I really cared about the decisions I’d made, and in one case, one of the decisions haunted me; I’d been used, and by the time I realized it, it was too late to undo. After completing the game, I’d started over, hoping to change that decision (and finish on nightmare mode or whatever), but I never finished the second time, there were other games to play. To this day, I still feel bad about it.
And interestingly, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, I could change that choice. Well, not in the game, but in a tool they created to let you set up the world, which they call “the keep.”
The Keep is amazing. If you’ve played the previous 2 Dragon Age games, it can import your world state, bringing in every decision you made in every quest or plot point throughout the games. It knows which companions you met, if they liked you enough to do their story quests, if you’d romanced anyone, who died, who became king, every little detail. At Penny Arcade Expo I went to a session where the developers talked about the giant decision network that powered the whole thing, it tracked something like 200+ decision points, of which many had more than one possible outcome. That makes like 2200+ possible world states, but was much more complicated, because depending on some decisions, entire subsections of the graph was impossible. After PAX, I signed up for beta access, so I could finally fix that decision I’d made. And going through the keep was so cool. It shows you, in beautiful graphics all the decisions, what the choices are, what you’d chosen, and what other things in your world state might not be possible if you made that change. There were a lot of things that I didn’t remember doing, or things that I never even got to. There was even a companion I missed completely! And once I looked at the decision I’d made, that I hated all that time, I realized I couldn’t change it. I mean technically I could, I just couldn’t go through with it. While it seemed like a bad decision at the time, as the world has continued on, my decision might have had bad short term repercussions, over the long term, I think it was the better decision. If you hadn’t played the previous 2 games, the keep lets you make all those decisions as if you had, to customize the starting world the way you want it. You then use the keep to mark that world state as the one you want to start with in the game.
All of that wall of text up there, and you aren’t even to the game yet! When you start a new game, you tell it to import your world state from the keep, and you start making decisions about your new character and this game!
Without giving away any spoilers, there were several characters that were awesome. Many characters from the previous games return, some playable, some in “advisory” roles. When you talk to them, you can learn about what happened to them in the time between the previous games, and how your previous choices had affected their lives. This kind of engrossing story really makes the world feel like your world, and made me care about the decisions I was making.
In DA:I, there was one main choice, do something yourself, without knowing the effects, or let someone else in the party, who has volunteered, do it. After finishing the main story line, I went back and looked at achievements I’d missed, and one of them is related to that decision. So I had to find a save from before that point, and work forward again, making the alternate decision, just to get an achievement. Odd. But in this (now alternate) version of my universe, I also took the time to finish several other companions’ story quests, because I hadn’t done them in the first play through. I really wish the character quests had been a little more obvious, there were some where you really had to pay attention to what someone said or did, or go to a specific place and buy something, etc.
All in all I thought it was one of the best RPG’s I’ve played, certainly the best in a long time!