The Wrath of Heaven – Julie Plays Inquisition Pt. 1
Welcome to the new year! Perfect time to review the start of my Dragon Age Inquisition Rerun – my least favourite game in one of my favourite game series. There are a number of reasons for this, mainly focussed on bad writing, incoherent plot, absolute no consequences and the bleakest protagonist a Bioware game has ever had. But like Anna, I’m gonna try and focus on the good things of this game. And indeed, that which we tried to do already with DAO and DA2 seems to work for DAI as well: creating a hell of a lot of headcanon to make this playthrough as intense as possible.
I originally wanted to replay my first DAI runthrough with the same character (to make it more characterbased) but I soon realized I needed a clean slate and created a new character – even if the basics are the same: female elven mage romancing Solas. Yes, I decided on the romance before starting the game. Since I only finished the game once before – with the aforementioned first Inquisitor – and I know I have difficulties staying interested in the game, it is my try to stay invested. And the Solas romance had me VERY invested and on an emotional rollercoaster, so I decided to place a safe bet. And so far, it has worked.
May I introduce Lyssa Lavellan – originally city elf who left Denerim to find the Dalish to prevent having to go to the Circle after all. If you’re interested in reading her story before the start of Dragon Age Inquisition, I invite you to read up on it on AO3 🙂
Funnily enough and without talking about it beforehand, both Anna and I decided to make our protagonists decidedly older than our Heroes and Hawkes. At the start of the game, Lyssa is 27 as opposed to Fian being 19 and Adriene 21. (Not really coincidentally it is the age I feel like.) Also without having talked about it, we both made a decidedly different character (you can read about Anna’s decisions in her blog post). While both Fian and Adriene are very open, make friends easily and have a healthy self-confidence as well as being at least okay with their role as ‘leader’, Lyssa is much more shy, introvert and struggles a lot with being put on the front. Lyssa was raised Andrastian (at least in theory) but never felt very supported or wanted within that religion, which is why she had no problems taking on the Dalish faith – however, more as a cultural thing than as an actual religion. She is also my first mage in this playthrough which is especially important to me as the mage-templar conflict is the defining subplot of the whole game series. It’s made the playthrough very interesting (even if some lines do not at all fit…) and I’m looking forward to see where it’s going to lead me.
She went to the conclave because her Keeper asked her to go and being a mage herself, she was able to go in there without raising to many eyebrows. When she wakes after the explosion, her first instinct is to block every question – intimidated by the humans around her. She does not feel like she has any choice but to help but while she feels pressured in the beginning, she soon realizes she actually is the only one able to help and throws herself into it. Every time people look at her for decisions, she feels uneasy, though – and when people are starting to calling her Herald of Andraste after she seals the Breach, it actually freaks her out.
What helps her most is the people she slowly starts calling friends. Lyssa is actually absolutely fine with being sent about to gather allies and talk to people who might be able to help. It is something she knows and it makes her feel less like a figurehead.
What helped me here to figure out how close people are, is this post talking about travel routes and times. The game rarely does a good job conveying the passing of time (although that is a difficult thing to do, I admit) so consciously having in mind that the travel from Haven to the Hinterlands alone takes 8 days on foot makes it easy to imagine the whole troup becoming closer. You don’t spend several days and weeks in a row, travelling and camping together without getting to know each other rather intimately.
She feels closest to Solas, Varric and Sera – she feels kin to Solas and his eagerness to share knowledge matches her eagerness to learn, she knows Varric to be kind and caring despite his stories and Sera is open and honest and direct which is superimportant to Lyssa. Cassandra is too pious for her to be actually comfortable around her but she has a deep-rooted respect for the woman. Blackwall seems nice but Lyssa has a slight phobia of bulky muscular men, so both he and Cullen (and to a lesser degree Iron Bull whom she respects due to his frankness at their first meeting) intimidate her somewhat. She cannot really figure out Leliana and both Vivienne and Josephine are from such a different world she can barely see eye to eye with them. As Vivienne is also of a completely different opinion concerning mage freedom, the two of them are rather estranged. That Lyssa decided to go to the mages for an alliance (both to try and keep a Tevinter force in check and because the Templars did nothing but spit in her face) did nothing to smooth things between them.
Same as Anna, it has been at least a year since I played DAI last and to be completely honest, I haven’t missed it that much. It was also the part I was least looking forward to in our runthrough. While I can absolute admire the graphics – if they are not too shiny or high fantasy for my taste – the gameplay is too console-like for my tastes. I miss a proper tactics setting, I miss being able to use all of my abilities and having to limit myself to eight and playing a mage is often kind of tiresome because it takes FOREVER to kill something as you deal so little damage. Killing a stupid nug sometimes takes ten hits *groan*. The crafting system is bulky and could have been so much easier and I do not like collecting junk just to sell them for money. (Just let me find money and stop spamming my inventory, please?) There are so many annoying and superfluous sidequests which have NOTHING to do with the plot and only serve to unnecessarily lengthen the game. Additionally, I can use neither the pretty Reshades Anna is using nor the cinematic camera for better screenshots – unfortunately the first just looks … weird and the second always runs on an error. I suspect not enough processor preformance. Ah, well.
So it was rather a nice surprise that somehow, during the summer, I actually started to look forward to it. It definitely had something to do with reading some amazing fanfictions which I whole-heartedly recommend. And then I started to mod the game more to my liking – my favourite mods are the Armor – No Class Restriction, partly for stats, mostly for aesthetic reasons, the No Wartable waiting and more loot – and while playing, I for once started to pay more attention to how abilities work together, which is my best team and actually used trials and a higher difficulty setting (High is enough for the moment). The same happened when replaying Origin and DA2, so I seem to be in some kind of a roll – although having access to higher-level gear thanks to the Golden Nug might have something to do with it. Also, I ignore most of the side quests and concentrate on quests concerning the plot and my companions.
And indeed, for the moment I have rather a lot of fun with the game. I still see the many problems and will never call it actually good but together with my headcanon, the Letters from Thedas and my fanfiction I am rather deep into it. Also, I look forward to playing Descent and Jaws of Hakkon, the two DLCs I haven’t played yet. I’m excited to see where this playthrough leads me.