This is cross-posted from my blog on Gamasutra.
I’ve finally figured out how to talk about the root of my deep love for Dragon Age: Inquisition without spending an hour or more spoiling the story and lore of the setting for the listener. I stumbled upon this during a Skype call with someone completely unfamiliar with anything Dragon Age. My fumbling explanation gave him the mistaken impression that Inquisition went back on the lore established in the first two games, retconning things better left alone. But that’s not true. No, Inquisition gave us an extraordinary gift uncommon in any fantasy setting: it taught us that everything in the established lore is suspect.
Warning: Dragon Age spoilers all over the place.
Also, this is cross-posted from my Gamasutra blog.
Love Amidst the Horrors of the Fifth Blight
I can’t recall if I started Dragon Age: Origins with the knowledge that romance with party members was possible. I do recall falling in love with Alistair from the very first. A snarker with a heart of gold, he was. Together we endured betrayal and then trekked through a dangerous land with Morrigan, the ill-tempered apostate daughter of a kooky old woman. As the last two Gray Wardens in Ferelden, we waded through dwarven politics and darkspawn blood in the deep roads, slaughtered werewolves for some beleaguered elves, and took care of the bastard who got our king and our fellow Grey Wardens killed in his bid for the throne, all so that we could gather the armies we needed to fight a threat to all of Thedas and save the known world.
Our love affair wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though. I bedded Zevran, the charming and sexually free elf assassin who had joined us after he failed to complete his assignment to kill me, in a moment of weakness*. Alistair confronted me about that while we were in a dungeon, both of us spattered with the blood and gore of our enemies. “This probably isn’t the best time for this,” he acknowledged before telling me how much I’d hurt his feelings. I promised it wouldn’t happen again and we continued our slaughter of the not-so-innocent.
*The chat interface was underdeveloped in Origins, a far cry from the illustrated chat wheel we have now, and I accidentally had sex with him. I decided not to save scum.
I’ve loved Dragon Age since the beginning, sinking a not inconsiderable amount of time into the first game, Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age 2 was a bit disappointing in comparison, having been rushed out and clearly suffering for it, but the story was still good. Dragon Age: Inquisition, however, has blown my mind. It captures my brain’s every spare moment, making me go back over everything that’s happened in all three games over and over again. I could probably rant for days about the complexities of the setting that this game has cracked open, and I’ll probably write a lot about it over the next couple of years, but today I just want to talk about magic.