The much-anticipated Dragon Age: Inquisition was released by BioWare on November 18, 2014. The third of the Dragon Age game franchise features impeccable graphics and a stunning soundtrack, which explains its three-and-a-half-year production and development time. However, what is most attractive is the openness granted to players of the game, allowing for a convincing, tailor-made experience.
Set in 9:41 Dragon – the 41st year of the 9th (Dragon) Age – the game follows the story of an Inquisitor and his companions on a quest to close tears in the ‘Veil’, a metaphysical barrier between the real world and that of the demons. Tears occur throughout the land of Thedas in areas exposed to excessive death or use of magic.
Flanked by an array of captains, advisers, witches and mages, the Inquisitor’s mission is to close all the minor tears across the continent as well as the main Breach. This was caused by a catastrophic explosion in the Temple of Sacred Ashes, of which the Inquisitor was the only survivor, absorbing some of the energy escaping from the Breach. This left him with the unique ability to repair tears in the Veil. Bioware states that the main quest in the game is to “save the world from itself”.
The game was built on an RPG engine using DICE’s Frostbite 3 technology. With this kind of game engine, one can expect sprawling pastures, indulgently designed castle interiors and extreme detail injected into everything when it comes to Dragon Age: Inquisition. Higher resolutions are paired with better textures and real-world lighting to create intricately forged character appearances and biomes. From the grass and tree leaves that flawlessly rustle in the wind, to the shallow river rapids, nothing in the appearance of the landscapes has been left to chance.
However, this sharp and impeccable display system comes at a cost for PC users. In order to experience the full magic of the game, reviewers recommend players have Windows 7 or 8.1 software with a whopping 26GB of free disk space, as well as a costly graphics card. Nonetheless, most dedicated gamers are already equipped with these system requirements, as an immense amount of games released in 2014 operate on high-res platforms. Even so, immersing oneself into the bewitching and ever-shifting world of Thedas is worth every penny.
In order to create realistic characters, Bioware chose to have voice actors wear movement-detecting bodysuits. This permitted their natural gestures to be mimicked in their animations and resulted in incredibly believable characters to suit their dynamic surroundings.
Unlike Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, the latest addition to the franchise allows players to customize vast amounts of the game, ranging from the pattern printed on your character’s armor, to their sexual orientation. Moreover, Bioware created a cloud-based platform called the Dragon Age Keep that allows dedicated gamers to upload customizable settings from previous titles of the game franchise. Aspects such as plot events and characterization can be transferred to produce a simple transition from past Dragon Age games and reduce the time it takes to become accustomed to gameplay settings.
Although past versions utilized an ‘over the shoulder’ viewpoint, producers opted for a more distant perspective on the action in the most recent release, in order to allow for the newly-featuring strategy combat planning. Gamers can pause mid-combat to assign their companions with orders regarding their choice of weapon, the force of any magic spells and the individual they target. Using an increased difficulty mode, this strategic combat method is essential, especially in the case of an ambush or large and powerful enemy force.
In the 95 minute soundtrack, created by Trevor Morris, the adventures through the quests are authentically reflected in the music. He uses a melange of organic and electronic instrument sounds as well as live choirs to form a fantastical atmosphere whilst also maintaining the haunting, raw texture of classical instruments such as flutes, violins and drums. By doing this, Morris was able to incorporate the medieval-age themes of the game whilst also preserving the mystical air essential for a dragon and a magic-packed storyline.
Unique themes and motifs are attached to different landscapes with auditory transitions signifying the character’s change of situation. For example, during an ambush or moments before a fight breaks out, a sense of immense tension is evident through the full-bodied and gripping music.
Although the soundtrack has not won any gaming awards, game reviewers soundtrackgeek.com awarded it with an ‘Album Excellence’ rating of 88% and described it as “epic and beautiful”.
For more information visit the Dragon Age: Inquisition website, www.dragonage.com, to view screenshots of gameplay in the gallery, delve into the soundtrack and explore the continent of Thedas on an interactive map.