Last week I wrote about my time with Dragon Age Inquisition after having played it for just an afternoon. I’ve had the game for a week now and am past the 25 hour point. Even though I have clocked in over 20 hours I’ve barely touched the main story missions, and nor have I been sidetracked too much by the short one off missions that are dotted around the different locations.
Once you arrive at Skyhold, which acts as the base of operations, the game really opens up, and an already big game suddenly feels massive; but more importantly it feels deeper. It is from here that I have embarked upon the more interesting side quests. Saving the world, been there done that, but trying to prevent a group of assassins from completing their mission by restoring a family to nobility via completing political favours in order to nullify the contract, now that is interesting; well for me anyway.
That’s the thing with Inquisition, the combat does the job but not much more, yet the conversation options are even deeper than what was present in the Mass Effect series. Whilst Shepard felt like my Shepard, he was still Commander Shepard and therefore there would be concessions because of this. Whilst my mage does have a backstory that I didn’t choose, by virtue of picking a mage and being aware of their complicated history, it was my choice; one which has constant subtle influences upon my story.
When I make decisions they always (so far at least) seem like they are my decisions. They might not be world changing decisions, I think there’s only been one so far that could be considered so, but for me they are just as important. I nearly always side with the mages, but I am cautious of the sensitivities surrounding such a decision, so aim for balance when necessary. This is is not to serve the plot, as the game almost doesn’t seem to care as it will accommodate accordingly, but because this is how I would act if this was real.
Videogames are often power fantasies, but mowing down people with different weapons is not interesting to me. In a world full of bureaucratic levels to operate through, the ability to lead and operate in a way that I deem appropriate is very fulfilling. This power fantasy even extends to the role of judge, jury, and executioner. You might kill countless number of people outside of Skyhold, but this kind of “justice” is more impactful and brings to mind the role of the king in Fable 3, albeit implemented in a much better way.
Ultimately it is the interaction with the other characters that make the game so memorable and the experience more personal. They feel like real people, not an archetype placed in the game to move the player forward. If anything the characters prevent the player from moving forward as quests relating to them are far more interesting.
Mass Effect often felt defined by the role that paragon and renegade choices had on the games, these black and white (or red and blue) decisions are absent from Inquisition and therefore feels more grey; and this time grey is good. I don’t feel penalised when I make a decision that might be “bad” and nor do I feel like on the whole I should pick the “good” choice. In Inquisition I choose what I feel is right from my perspective.
I’ve still got a long way to go in my journey through Thedas, but it is journey that I will likely enjoy throughout. Everyone who plays might end up at a fairly similar finale, how we get there will likely be unique to each of us in our own way, and that’s what counts. There may be other inquisitors, but I am my own inquisitor.