Published Nov 18, 2014Role-playing games have come a long way since Dungeons & Dragons geeks (and the occasional freak) first started rolling 20-sided die in their basements. But Edmonton icons BioWare make arguably the purest strain of post-tabletop RPGs.
Though they began by developing straight D&D adaptations like Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, BioWare has long forged its own path in the role-playing realm. Their new fantasy epic is Dragon Age: Inquisition, the latest chapter in a series that began with acclaim, fell victim to poor design and has now re-emerged triumphant to prove the third time really is the charm.
However, being a part three means that the Dragon Age lore can be quite confusing. It wouldn't hurt to do some online research via BioWare's Dragon Age Keep site to get caught up if you haven't played the previous games or need a reminder, though the in-game codex also provides plenty of background info.
At this point in the tale, one year following the events of Dragon Age II, war is being waged between the mages and the Knights Templar across the continent of Thedas. Both groups had fallen under the auspices of the church, known as The Chantry, but seceded when tensions flared between them and are now fighting each other.
The new game begins with an explosion at a Chantry-led peace summit — you are, conveniently, the only survivor — that opened a dimensional breach, allowing demons into their world from a place called The Fade, which is also where the mages' power comes from. You and your diverse party then set about establishing a new Inquisition, essentially a new holy army, to quell the fighting, re-establish order and close the dimensional rifts that are spreading across the land.
That diversity plays out through the entire game, which is effortlessly progressive, with strong female characters (including yours, if you so choose) and the series' first gay male character. Meanwhile the narrative itself explores racial and social dynamics and prejudices. This is especially noticeable if you create a non-human character. The customization tool allows you to choose either gender and up to four races — human, elf, dwarf and horned foreigners known as Qunari — as well as their class as warrior, mage or rogue.
Inquisition is an epic in terms of both place and plot. The open-world setting geographically dwarfs the previous two games, and you could easily invest a hundred-plus hours into the main storyline, side-quests and addictive exploration as you engage in conversation and/or combat with the folks you meet along the way.
It sounds like a long time, and it is, but there's no reason to rush your way through BioWare's tumultuous, medieval Europe-inspired continent. Winter may be coming, but at least Inquisition provides a great place for us to spend the season indoors. (BioWare/EA)