Dragon Age II was the first Dragon Age game I bought, I’m not quite sure why. I popped it in the Xbox 360, played for about ten minutes and then thought that it might be a good idea to play the first game in the series before this one. I don’t know why it took me until getting the game home and playing it for me to realise. Regardless, I had so many games in the backlog at the time that I just forgot to pick up the other game, and Dragon Age kind of fell by the wayside for me.
Until one Christmas sale on the Playstation store saw Dragon Age Origins (the first game) on sale for a fiver. I snapped it up and had it downloaded on my console for a while before I finally got around to it. It was deep, the combat tactical, the story enthralling. I was hooked. Normally, DLC doesn’t really hook me – I very rarely buy add-ons for games that I’ve finished, but with Dragon Age, I just wanted to spend more time in this world. Not long after, I repurchased the sequel, this time on Playstation, and played through that. It’s a famously more compact game than its predecessor, but I still enjoyed my time with it. It felt more like a character study than the sprawling epic of the first game. Then, in 2014, along came Dragon Age Inquisition, an initially widely praised game in the series that has since had its reputation cool a little, although I can’t help feel that’s more to do with the lackluster games released by Bioware last generation tarnishing the developer’s reputation than the actual game itself.
Inquisition delivered on the grand scale of the first game, with another story to feel excited, moved then surprised by. The twisting story here was gripping, and just as with the first game, I was completely hooked. The combat was flashy and stylish, if a little less tactics based than the series had previously been known for, and the visuals were lush, vibrant, full of colour and personality. Exploring the various different lands in the game was a joy, from deserts to grasslands. The sidequests are a little MMO-ish and don’t really lend that much to the story, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. As with many Bioware games, as good as the story is, it’s the characters that are the real highlight. Vivienne’s cool, unflappable demeanor, the eerie return of Morrigan, Cullen’s reassuring personality, these characters were a joy to spend time with – look online and you’ll often find people discussing which was the best character or supporting their personal favourites, a testament to the strength of writing on display here.
For me, one character stands head and shoulders above the rest, and should go down as one of gaming’s best personalities – Dorian. He’s a mage from Tevinter, a land we have only heard whispers of in previous Dragon Age games, and one we’ve still yet to visit. He’s an incredibly well-rounded character, deep, flawed, but with an underlying goodness. The thing that makes him stand out though is his personal storyline. While things are progressing in the world of gaming, it’s still unusual to see LGBT characters in leading roles, especially in triple-A big budget titles. It’s even rarer to see one whose story is explicitly tied into their sexuality. LGBT people’s lives come with unique problems and grievances, and while it’s sometimes good to see representation of how we can be just as ‘normal’ as the rest of the world, it’s also important to recognise that in some ways we just aren’t. Dorian’s story, specifically crafted around his sexuality makes him the best representation of gay men in video gaming that I’ve yet to come across. His backstory is affecting, and getting the chance to try and help him through his issues is a great opportunity for further character-building, both for the player character, and Dorian himself. After playing through his questline, there was no doubt in my mind that Dorian would be a constant part of my active team.
Dragon Age Inquisition is an amazing game, one that has been a little underappreciated in the latter half of this generation, and is well worth your time. The gameplay is exciting, the lore is mysterious, the story’s thrilling and the characters are well-rounded and brilliantly written. In preparation for the next Dragon Age game coming in the hopefully near-future, I might have to sit down with Inquisition and all of its extra content just one more time.