Today we're excited to welcome Ira to Lady Business to talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition! Ira is a kickass illustrator, writer, and web developer who gained their powers by consuming the bones of their enemies. They make art, comics, and writing when they are not distracted by way too many video games. You can find more of Ira's work at their tumblr.
So I suppose it's time to talk about Dragon Age: Inquisition! In the last 2-3 months I bulldozed my way through the entire DA game series, have arrived at the end of DAI, and boy howdy, I have opinions. Let's have a spoiler-free summary up here first, with spoilery details below the cut. Overall I feel like Bioware tried to add a lot of grey, particularly to issues they'd seen people getting pretty black-and-white over, and really
overcorrected with the grey.
Grey for everyone!
(Image credit: Dragon Age Wiki)
Many thanks to owlmoose
for helping me figure out some of what was bothering me and playing editor. She may not agree with all I say, but helped shape the saying.
Things I liked!
- Cassandra Pentaghast. She is nearly perfect as a character, imperfections and all. She's determined, loyal, iron-willed, unwavering, and sees the faults in the systems she's part of. If only my lady Inquisitor could have romanced her! But overall? This is one part of DAI that gets no [disgusted noise] from me.
- Josephine was a treat, and I appreciate the alternate approach she represents; I often find diplomatic or third-option solutions far more interesting and satisfying. Her romance is adorable, her character is great, and I just wish we weren't such a terribly, terribly underutilized gem.
- Cullen grew a lot -- good work, buddy. Shame you're straight too.
- It was great to see Morrigan again, with how she's matured and changed.
- The game is beautiful and huge -- overwhelmingly so much of the time, but I think that has more to do with my sensory overload threshold than anything else. Whenever I was up to handling it, the scale and scenery were breathtaking.
- DAI does... some... amount of work to correct some of the flaws in its inherently misogynistic worldbuilding. There are more and more varied women, gender is made less an issue of, and overall the treatment of women is improving.
- Krem is fucking great and I will hear no words against him and his awesomeness.
- Dagna! Scout Harding! Dwarf ladies!
Things that rubbed me a wee
bit the wrong way
- Oppression as a theme is treated with none of the care and gravity it or Bioware's own worldbuilding deserve. The mage-templar conflict is papered over with a bit too much "both sides are just as bad" hand-waving, and the elves, POC-coded as they are, are treated terribly by the narrative, painted as foolish and participants in their own demise and ongoing oppression.
- There's a lot of tricky-to-icky racial subtext in the game, from Morrigan's blatant elfsplaining to the first Black playable female character being classist and supportive of oppressive regimes to a POC party member being a slavery apologist.
- GSM people continue to be majority outcast or problematic in some way while straight people continue to be majority upstanding folk. The only to-date canonical gay companion romance is written deliberately as a questionable idea. One of the gay characters gets an arc about how very tragically gay and outcast they are.
- Most returning or past characters and factions are treated poorly by the narrative. The Grey Wardens got some unbelievably bad writing, right down to a moustache-twirling villain. Characters who would have been thematically appropriate to return, such as Merrill, didn't, while characters who did show up are poorly used and executed, written into corners by worldstates.
- The large-scale writing is poor. The antagonists were wildly uneven, culminating with Corypheus himself who, drop dead deeply satisfyingly awesome as his voice was, amounted to little more than a by-the-numbers, suitable-for-mass-consumption, uncomplicated Big Bad. The overall plot is thin and poorly tied together.
- The Inquisitor themselves is handed some dialogue options that are homophobic and transphobic at worst, ignorant and clumsy at best. Why?
Let's just dive right in to the dirty stuff, right? SPOILERS AHOY.( Read more... )