‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ might be the game of the year

Laudy Issa
Staff Writer

From exploration to conversation to combat, there’s absolutely no way of getting bored while playing BioWare’s latest addition to the “Dragon Age” game franchise, “Dragon Age: Inquisition.”

The adventure begins with players acting as the Inquisitor, the only being capable of closing the ‘Breach,’ and the smaller rifts that demons are using to leave the ‘Fade’ and enter the player’s world.

In times of chaos and upheaval, the Inquisitor is the single force of change, shaping the fate of empires and the ridding the world of a full-scale demonic invasion with powers and abilities players choose and later develop. The Inquisitor is also customizable. Players choose one of four races, and of three classes to classify their Inquisitor into – right down to the color of his or her boots.

There are countless enemies to face, from lowly darkspawn to powerful High Dragons. In addition to that, the endless battlefields one must tread upon (alongside a band of companions) over a map big enough to invokes Bethseda’s “Skyrim,” amount to at least 70 hours of gameplay, making “Inquisition” one of the biggest RPGs available today.

The sheer amount of content available in the game is frightening, with very few fillers driving the storyline. The urge to steer away from the current mission and discover the hidden nooks and crannies of “Inquisition” is well-rewarded. Every side mission – from helping farmers to interacting with shady strangers – could result in discovering important new information or weapons.

A somewhat vague storyline weighs the game down to players unfamiliar with the previous “Dragon Age” games, but the incredibly detailed lore is still there and is as fascinating as ever. The empires of Inquisition are packed with their own personal history and political struggles, and gamers are thrown into the heart of it all.

What’s always been enjoyable about “Dragon Age” is the freedom it gives gamers in shaping the story. Player decisions matter. For example, one gets to choose sides, and that’s not easy to do when your travelling companions are around. Each of the nine characters you meet and travel with will react differently to your decisions because of their different backgrounds and ideologies, forming complex relationships and rivalries with the Inquisitor. Well-written and hauntingly real, it’s easy to grow attached to them.

When choosing your travelling party, you can mix it up – if only to just listen to their banter. Dorian, for instance, a witty human mage from the Tevinter Imperium, is especially charming.

How players choose to handle the tasks at hand: who they let live or condemn to death, how they answer their companions using the dialogue wheel, and which missions they undertake, will affect the party they choose to travel with.

The dialogue wheel – famous in both BioWare’s “Dragon Age” and “Mass Effect” franchises – has changed this time, and the possibilities have become much more ambiguous. It’s harder to answer for the sake of pleasing a certain character, something positive as it allows gamers to respond more as their characters would.

Combat is better than ever, and switching to the all new tactical view lets players pause and direct their battles to coordinate and make use of their party’s strengths and strategies. Players can set traps for enemies, sneak a rogue around for flanking bonuses, enter swords first with a warrior, or cripple enemies with a mage. It takes some getting used to, but the tactical view is an effective tool for elaborate combat plans.

Another interesting change in “Inquisition” is the removal of healing spells. Health potions, thankfully, still exist.

Elsewhere, the new online co-op mode isn’t half as bad as it was expected to be. Leveling up through dungeons with friends has proven to be a good way to pass the time. Playing with a party of two or less, however, is an inescapable recipe to death.

Named Game of the Year at the 2014 Game Awards, “Inquisition” takes the best aspects of its two predecessors and comes out on top, restoring the glory of the original “Dragon Age.”

A beautiful landscape packed with rich stories and unforgettable characters, BioWare has created the must play game of 2014. In a chaotic world that desperately needs a hero, who will your Inquisitor be?

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