Dragon Age: Inquisition—THE STUPID, SHE BURNS!

Monday , 7, August 2017 22 Comments

Let me tell you what’s mystifying about Dragon Age: Inquisition—it’s not a fun game. It’s not an interesting game, not an entertaining game, not an evocative or moving game. It’s a boring game. But it SHOULDN’T be.

It has all the hallmarks of a real computer RPG. There’s companion NPC’s holding conversations and arguments while I march across the map, there’s quests to complete, monsters to kill, treasures to find, Big Bads to stop. Everything that should be in a game is here. So why is it so crappy?

“It’s a joke. You know, like the funny kind. Only different.”

THAT is Dragon Age. It’s a game. You know, like the fun kind. Only different.

First there are the obvious flaws, flaws which ruin quite a lot of the game. All of the NPC’s are obnoxious, pushy, or boring. None of them—not one—are entertaining (like Urdnot Wrex), or charming (like Tali’Zorah or Liara T’Soni), or the proverbial “guy you’d just like to have a beer with” (like Garrus). They’re all weird, obnoxious, or obnoxiously touchy and bitchy and I’m only sad I didn’t kick that chick out of my Inquisition sooner.

Then there was the stupid decisions, like Red Lyrium. Lyrium is a magical blue rock that mages freebase to be able to cast spells. Red Lyrium is a Lovecraftian version of this that causes mass insanity and other plot-convenient events. The substance is a mystery in Dragon Age II, but Inquisition reveals the truth: it’s blue lyrium INFESTED WITH THE ZOMBIE BLIGHT PLAGUE.

A magical rock. Infested with a zombie plague. THE STUPID SHE IS BURNING MY SKIN OFF MY FACE!

The main quests are repetitive (we’re talking greater than MMO levels of grind here), the main quests are repetitive (we’re talking greater than MMO levels of grind here), the main quests are repetitive (we’re talking greater than MMO levels of grind here), it’s really buggy, the NPC’s are just as off-putting as your bosom companions, and there’s several places the game expects you to do platforming, in a game engine that simply CANNOT SUPPORT platforming.

Bioware’s RPG engine (used in, for example, Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire) was originally only psuedo-3d: everything was modeled in three dimensions, but all the levels were essentially flat (compare them to 2013 Tomb Raider, which is WILDLY three dimensional). You couldn’t even jump. They’ve recently corrected this, but even now the engine hasn’t the rendering accuracy or precise controls necessary to support platforming. Platforming in DA:I is like trying to touch type whilst wearing water-logged boxing gloves—it’s not that you can do it well, it’s that you can do it AT ALL that’s amazing.

Oh, and the game ends with the stupidest—“What about Mass Effect 3?”—the SECOND stupidest twist I’ve ever seen. Basically one of the evily evils from the first Dragon Age turns out not to actually be evil at all, even a little bit. She’s just misunderstood.

THE STUPID SHE HAS BURNT MY SKIN OFF MY FACE AND IS WORKING ON MY MUSCLES!

To be fair to the game, the first part of it is kinda enjoyable (basically everything up until you move into your bigger digs). But soon after, the annoyances accumulate and the game rapidly bogs down. The game is simply a cavalcade of bad decisions, and each bad decision saps away a little more of the entertainment value. It’s death by a thousand bugs, resulting in a game that’s stupendously boring and stupid.

What this game ISN’T is openly political. (That’s “didn’t continuously and openly push a real world ideology in my face the whole time” for those who can’t grok what “political” means in context. Yes, there’s in-game politics BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU SPERGS.) Anyway, the game isn’t openly political. The main problem is more subtle than that.

PoMo’s—adherents of Post Modernism and its various bastard offspring—gradually lose their grasp on what humanity is. Thus, the characters and situations they depict in their art are just… off. It’s the characterization equivalent of the Uncanny Valley effect. We can accept simplistic or one-dimensional characters in our fiction (like Jack Jeebs from Men in Black), but what we cannot accept, or empathize with, are characters who simply do not react the way actual people do. Like in The Collapsing Empire where the lady calmly chats with the guy who walks in on her in flagrante delicto, while she casually continues with her recreational activities. Patently inhuman.

As YouTuber Diversity and Comics recently said: “You can only empathize with humans. You can’t empathize with a human-shaped organism that doesn’t have any human emotions.”

All the characters in Dragon Age: Inquisition are human-shaped organisms that don’t have any human emotions. Like Ready Player One, they’re plastic people with plastic emotions and you can’t empathize with them, or even enjoy spending time with them. Garrus was a friend, these guys are animatronic robots who you suspect might have acquired the habit of walking around at night handing out jump scares and eating random security guards.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is a total artistic fail, on every level. The writing is bad, the scenery is uninspired, and the one interesting area in the game (the actual Deep Roads) was seen by less than 5% of the players (according to the “this is XX rare” Achievement announcements my Xbox was throwing up). Despite the game trying SO DAMN HARD to be epic, in the end it’s a damp squib. Only about 10% of players even finished the game, and many of them skipped easy to acquire achievements that were right in the path of the finale to do so.

PEOPLE WERE RUSHING SO FAST TO FINISH, THEY IGNORED ACHIEVEMENTS THE GAME WAS BASICALLY HANDING OUT FOR FREE.

I cannot recommend Dragon Age: Inquisition, except in the sense of recommending that people not buy it, or if they have bought it, recommending they burn it with fire and have their domicile exorcized right after, just to make sure none of its baleful influence lingers.

It’s an awful game. An awful, awful, awful, awful game that nobody should play, ever, and it’s cosmically stupid that Bioware made, then shipped this piece of garbage.

THE COSMIC STUPID SHE HAS BURNT MY SKIN OFF MY FACE AND ALSO MY MUSCLES AND IS NOW CHARRING THROUGH THE BONE!

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

22 Comments
  • Andy says:

    I tried really hard to like the first Dragon Age and it’s…okay. I thought the lore was stupid (the mages broke the afterlife for everyone?) and the general writing/world building was basically the usual Tolkienesque stuff with some grit slapped on top (“Hey, our elves are ghetto trash! It’s mature, right?!”), but it was playable. Can’t say I’ve had much urge to play the other two.

  • jeangray07 says:

    I was so excited when I got it for Christmas after it came out. Despite the drawbacks, I had enjoyed DA2 and loved DAO. I couldn’t even get past the first hour of Inquisition. It was booooooring. Didn’t feel invested in the characters or the story. I just simply didn’t care to keep going and am very impressed with anyone who did. Spot on review!

  • True_poser says:

    DA:I is a mediocre big game.
    It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s tedious.
    Sometimes it shows some inspired level design, but that’s all.

    The game managed to disappoint a significant number of fans of the series, but was financially successful.
    So, we’ll see more of it, unfortunately.

    However, using achievements to measure the game’s quality is a tricky thing.
    It’s really easy to delude yourself into a predefined conclusion.

    The older the game is, the more owners never played it.
    Less than a quarter of current Civilization V owners won a single game.
    However, even when the game is new and is sold for the full price, you can bet that 1/6-1/5 of owners never launched it.

    You do have to normalize the percent of players who got an achievement by the percent of players who “played” the game.

    For example, 1/3 of Witcher 3’s owners never met Yennifer (i.e. never played or left the very small starting location).
    And only 26,9% of owners (or ~40% of people who finished the starting location) got to the end.

    Can we say that Witcher 3 is about 2 or 3 times better than DA:I?
    Yes, but it’s silly.

    The abysmal percent for Deep Roads is because they are DLC-only for DA:I.
    And the percent of those who buy DLCs (or GOTY compilations) is usually even less than the percent of winners.
    With exceptions, of course, the already mentioned Civ V is now unimaginable without Gods and Kings, but usually so it goes.

    • BLUME says:

      The civ games are a bad metric. Most civ players play decades worth of games on any one version and buy the new ones on shear inertia. I didn’t even buy 4 till they were on the second expansion of 5 and ended up never finishing a game because I didn’t find any mods I liked as much as the dragon and rod mod for 3.

      • True_poser says:

        They aren’t.
        Civ is mass-product as it gets.

        No, the vast majority of civ owners never finish a single game and quite a significant number of them never launches the game.

        No, your anecdotal evidence is irrelevant (as are mine preferences too).

        • BLUME says:

          what’s mass produced have to do with anything?

          If I am wrong what are the stats on legacy owners who purchased newer or older installments and never played?

          • True_poser says:

            It means that the game has mass-market appeal, and that the owner of Civ V is much more likely to have Skyrim, FTL, Payday 2, Borderlands 2, CS:GO or Terraria (or thirty other popular titles) than another strategy game.

            With ten million owners of Civ V on Steam, legacy owners are unlikely to make any impact on statistics even if they comprise a significantly different cohort (which is not true).

            It’s hard to gauge legacy owners.
            Suffice to say that median playtime of Civ III on Steam is little more than two hours and Civ IV: BtS is around seven and a half.
            Bought for collection or for old times sake, it seems.

  • NARoberts says:

    Glad I skipped this one.

    Since the Witcher 3 was brought up, let me mention that without the DLC, it’s pretty mediocre in its own right. if this is three times worse, that is…actually still not as bad as I figured it could be.

    Now please, tell us all about ME:Andromeda. This one should be good to listen to.

    • John E. Boyle says:

      Yes, what about ME: Andromeda?

      It can’t be THAT bad, can it?

    • True_poser says:

      Witcher 3 is a success story about developers who, instead of making bad parts of the game at least mediocre, opted to improve the already good parts.

      The levelling up is mediocre, the combat system is serviceable, but that’s it, controls are simply bad, maps get glitchier and glitchier the further you go.
      The first DLC, by the way, added MMO-like moneysinks in form of runes.

      It’s not that wrong to say the reception of the game in a region was shaped by the voiceover quality.
      English wasn’t that good.

      • NARoberts says:

        I’m curious as to what parts of the game you would consider “good,” then. It surely isn’t the plot-hole ridden main story, it surely isn’t the fact that you almost NEED a guide to get any “good” ending, it surely isn’t the huge loading screens between every map. The things I find enjoyable myself are the oils/potions/bombs/magic elements–making my build, customizing MY Geralt with a specific combination of glyphs, runes, mutations,fashionable armor, hair and beard, and then taking that build into fights against monsters, RPing the way a true Witcher should live. I am planning to do NG+ as a Deathmarch, enemy upscaling on, no minimap, limited fast-travel, every-contract challenge run. I think I should get some fun out of that. 🙂

        • Andy says:

          “I am planning to do NG+ as a Deathmarch, enemy upscaling on, no minimap, limited fast-travel, every-contract challenge run. I think I should get some fun out of that.”

          That’s how I played it the first time 🙂 Admittedly, the no-mini-map thing was a bit of a bother because the game is really not designed for that option and pretty much requires you to use GPS to find important places, compared to older games that would give you actual directions like people used to do.

          The Witcher games are a bit odd to me in that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Other games do various things better, but somehow when I play the Witcher games I have a more fulfilling overall experience (1 and 3, mainly. 2 has real problems…).

          • NARoberts says:

            Doesn’t seem like it would be much fun for a first run. Isn’t your playstyle severely cramped for many hours until your arsenal expands sufficiently? The whole reason I want to do it this way is for the thrill of taking my carefully-crafted build against powerful monsters.

          • True_poser says:

            > The Witcher games are a bit odd to me in that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

            It’s called competent game design.
            Shame it’s a rarity.

        • True_poser says:

          Of course it’s story, character design and world-building.

          It made you care how exactly a “true” character should’ve behaved.

          And that made you invent your personal way to enact it in the game, instead of, you know, playing something else.
          Why won’t you try Surge, for example?

          • NARoberts says:

            Why WOULD I try the Surge? 🙂

            I think the answer you’re looking for is that W3 is a mediocre game, while The Surge in an actively bad one. You seem to be under the impression that I was disagreeing with you over your assessment of the game; I am not, I am merely disagreeing with your idea that the developers honed the good parts of the game, or that there were many–if any–truly good parts to hone.

            I never criticized the character design or world-building either. I think both are actually solid to above-average. I did say that the main story is garbage, which I repeat now. The fact that I feel more enjoyment in just avoiding it and enjoying the world shows my feelings on that.

            tl;dr We agree that W3 isn’t a great game, but it is an OK one, with a ton of fun content, and that makes it brilliant compared to the average, low, low bar.

            Look to classic Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Solid titles for games which really DID drive their respective strengths to the max, while letting all else fall by the wayside.

          • True_poser says:

            Because why not?
            Surge ticks all the checkboxes, a poor man’s sci-fi-ish DS.
            Yet you strive to shoehorn a game that was made for quite a different gamestyle into what you want.
            Sure, with enough tools, time and effort you can make a trolley-bus out of a loaf of bread, but why?

            I’m not really looking for an answer on any question, because I’m not asking any.
            And I’m unlikely to agree with you because I don’t really care about Konami or Capcom franchises you hold in high regard.
            I tried to play it, I didn’t like it and that means our approaches are too different to compare.

            Witcher 3, however, is a great game because it’s the new yardstick against which all story-heavy open-world RPGs are measured now, despite all its flaws.
            For example, Underrail which I love dearly is an OK game, because it doesn’t and it won’t have any lasting impact.
            So it goes.

          • NARoberts says:

            I didn’t think we were disagreeing, but apparently we are?

            “Why don’t you play the surge?”

            “Because why not?”

            “I’m not really looking for an answer on any question, because I’m not asking any.”

            …?

            Glad we cleared that up.

            “…I’m unlikely to agree with you because I don’t really care about Konami or Capcom franchises you hold in high regard.”

            I’ve heard of refuge in audacity, but never of refuge in ignorance. Maybe you meant something else?

            “Witcher 3, however, is a great game because it’s the new yardstick against which all story-heavy open-world RPGs are measured now, despite all its flaws.”

            Here’s what I had to say. “…W3 isn’t a great game, but it is an OK one, with a ton of fun content, and that makes it brilliant compared to the average, low, low bar.”

            Huh?

            I really don’t know how to respond to any of this…

  • NARoberts says:

    I would have certainly enjoyed W3 more if I had never med Yennifer either. 🙂

  • rollwhip says:

    It’s pretty great how most of this is you complaining about characters, but I really have no idea which “evil” character from the first game you’re even talking about. Presumably you mean Flemeth, but she was never portrayed as evil. If you didn’t even understand that, you can hardly be a good arbiter of whatever criticism of post modernism that was supposed to be.

    • Taarkoth says:

      In the first game at least, Flemeth sustained her life by bodyjacking her daughters.

      She fed off of and consumed her own children just to live longer. That’s not anything BUT evil.

  • El Bearsidente says:

    It’s essentially an offline MMORPG simulator, and I’m not talking a highly polished product, like WoW. DAI is a Korean grinder MMORPG simulator.

    And it falls flat in all regards.

    Then Bioware went ahead and outdid themselves at being bad with Andromeda.

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