10 September, 2015

Review – Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser, A Return To Form

It’s time to get the band back together for one last adventure – what, you didn’t honestly think the Exalted Council would proceed smoothly did you? As the last chapter in the Inquisition story, I will spoil in as little detail as possible, parts of the base game’s ending, so beware of that before you read on.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

Trespasser the third and final piece of ‘story’ content to be released for Dragon Age: Inquisition propels events two years into the future. The Inquisition founded to halt the evil pouring from the great Breach in the sky above Haven, has at least partially fulfilled its purpose, and in the eyes of some, outlived its usefulness. To address the grumbling and fear surrounding the Inquisition, the Divine, head of the Chantry, who could be one several members of the Inquisition depending upon your choices, has called the Exalted Council together to decide the fate of your organisation. On one side the Fereldans, who fear and distrust the Inquisition and its swelling ranks, they call for disbandment and the return of the land occupied by your forces. On the other, the Orlesians, far more refined and far less boisterous, they seek to draw the Inquisition in, introduce oversight, and ultimately control its actions.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

The Exalted Council sees you, the Inquisitor, return to the Winter Palace at Halamshiral, at the head of a mighty honour guard. Though this time, the palace is mercifully free of Venatori and looks even more stunning in day light. For the first hour or so I walked the Palace grounds and gardens, sneaking up on harlequins, scavenging expensive dog treats, and chatting with my companions. For the most part, these chats were real cinematic cutscenes, displaying the quality writing that made Dragon Age: Inquisition our Game of the Year for 2014. Apparently the last two years saw the band scattered to the winds, your reunion with them is a warm mix of pleasant surprise, bizarre appointments, and frankly hilarious misunderstandings. In this regard at least, Trespasser doesn’t reach the ridiculous highs of Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC, but it’s certainly good in its own right.

Then out of literally nowhere a dead Qunari appears, leaving a highly convenient trail of blood across the Palace leading to an Eluvian, and with that the adventure is on. Yes, it’s every bit as abrupt and jarring as it sounds. This odd pacing persists for the bulk of Trespasser, though it does eventually right itself. The pacing and transition from a tense political situation to a Qunari invasion, is easily the most disappointing aspect of Trespasser; the entire game is a balance of court intrigue and open conflict, yet here it is pretty poorly handled. However, it says a great deal about the quality of Trespasser that this is its greatest failing in my eyes, Trespasser does not repeat the mistakes of the two previous DLC adventures.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

Like The Descent, it is a linear path, not an open world area like the Jaws of Hakkon, nor the majority of the base game. While you do return to the Winter Palace between excursions through the Eluvians, there isn’t any backtracking or discoverable areas, as there was in The Descent. It reminded me of an extremely long main story mission, though thanks to the nature of the Eluvians, it could have easily been a series of shorter missions. The Eluvians, a network of mirror portals, deliver the Inquisitor onto an Elven temple surrounded by fields of lush greens, then into the heart of a crumbling Dwarven mine, and of course, the warped Fade itself. Including the expanded Winter Palace gardens, Trespasser features half a dozen very different and very beautiful locations. Several of these locations; the Dwarven mine and the final area of the game in particular, have a very unique feel to their construction and layout. As was also true of the best areas of the original game, these locations are built to accommodate the battles that occur within them, they’re not just filled with enemies to slow the player and provide an obstacle; the composition and survivability of the enemies works synergistically with the environments to create meaningful and memorable fights.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

Meaningful and memorable was not something I would call The Descent, I enjoyed the setting but it was a story-starved grind through magic-sponging Darkspawn of varying difficulty. Trespasser has a lot of fighting, but the conversation-to-battle ratio has returned to the Dragon Age norm, and enemies are not indestructible brutes who interrupt your moves every few seconds. The foes you face most in Trespasser are the Qunari, which I guess explains why the Spoils of the Qunari item pack released a while back, both the armour and architecture is on full display in Trespasser. There is of course, a lot of new armour and art; the Qunari leader, a lady whose name escapes me, looks particularly dashing with giant book tied to her arm.

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser

Fortunately for Trespasser, the Qunari are such an easy enemy to establish, it takes no time at all for the Qunari to launch into a tirade against those not of the Qun, and they do it with such spectacular arrogance. This fact is possibly the only reason the whole experience didn’t fall apart completely the moment the Inquisitor stepped through the first Eluvian, because nothing about that transition from court to adventure is smooth or well written.

The Qunari aren’t the only entity at play however, while the Inquisitor remains ignorant, the player has seen the Mythal cutscene that concluded the base game, and quite possibly the Trespasser trailer showing Solas. To that end Trespasser answers some questions, actually quite a lot of questions, while also setting the scene for the next Dragon Age outing. By the end, where the story is heading is no secret, all of which happens to be exactly what I want, though I hadn’t consciously known that before – there had better be a Dragon Age IV, or I’m going to end up spending years hunting down the perfect fan fiction.

 Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser score 5/5Trespasser doesn’t quite hit the Citadel mark of companion camaraderie, though perhaps I’m a little salty that there was almost no contact at all between my Inquisitor and his lover – it is entirely possible I missed an optional conversation or something. There is a wealth of great dialogue, both party banter – Sera is still treat – and powerful speeches, though the best of all has to be the credit sequence, it is well worth the listen. Trespasser transports you though a number of beautiful locales, pitting you against the exotic Qunari in increasingly explosive battles, with the combat emphasis squarely back onto being epic rather than challenging. The transition from politics to war is virtually non-existent, and that’s obviously a problem, but ultimately, Trespasser is an excellent ending to an excellent game. I came away feeling equal parts satisfied with Inquisition’s conclusion and thoroughly excited for where the series appears to be going next. What more can you ask in an ending?

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Trespasser saarebas

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