What Are Little Girls Made Of? – Anna plays Inquisition – Part 2
There was quite a bit of free time around the holidays so I went quite a bit forward through this game. The more annoying thing is that there is no “let’s quickly play a bit for half an hour” in this game. At least not for me. If I make the effort on starting up this demon of loading screens (especially that first log in when you are in Skyhold) I don’t waste my time on it if I have only half an hour of time. Also: I tend to do a lot of menial side quests, even if I tell myself I wont. But while walking to my main quest objectives I do this stuff on the way there. And I do like just walking around in certain areas because it is pretty. So while I was thinking: I am going to do the main quest next I found myself on the storm coast, finishing almost the entire region (except that originally closed off part.) Then I was crafting armour and weapons for everyone. That alone took what felt like ages. I finished the Fallow Mire and ‘accidentally’ did almost every quest in the Hinterlands. (What???) I also figured: Julie is probably playing a bit slower than I am so the more side quests I do, the closer we stay together in our play through.
At some point picking a side couldn’t be put off anymore though. After every single war table mission you have at that point was exhausted as well, everyone equipped (plus two sets of gear for the last two companions were in my bag) and everyone in Haven was probably already annoyed at their Herald constantly seeing if they have something new to talk about the story finally continued.
Amara went to Therinfall Redoubt. Due to several reasons. Mainly the one that she is not a mage and as someone whose only weapons are two tiny daggers she felt that going up against a powerful Tevinter Magister who specifically want to trap her would be a remarkably stupid idea. On top of it two of her three advisers seemed to favour the Templar’s help and when in doubt Amara usually looks to Cassandra. She also doesn’t really know anything about Leliana at this point and she creeps her out a little bit with all the cloak and dagger secrecy and the -let’s murder people with no conscience- part. Amara has been there, done that and burned the tshirt in shame. She is not really eager to support that at all. So everything Leliana suggests st this point of the story she takes with a big grain of salt.
She takes Cassandra (it’s the Lord Seeker they are visiting, so of course Cass has to come), Vivienne (because dealing with Orlisian nobles is not yet part of Amara’s skill set) and the Iron Bull (because yes, they are there to negotiate but a little intimidation could help – plus he is very good for hiding behind) and the four of them go pay a visit to the Templars.
Everything goes to shit pretty quickly and the Lord Seeker turns out to be an envy demon. And for a tiny moment Amara thinks of Redcliffe and the Tevinter Magister somehow seems like the lesser evil in that moment. Her next thought is literally “Are you fucking kidding me!!!”
The envy demon tries to provoke reactions from her but fails over and over again. It insults her, it makes her watch her friends die. It blames her for their deaths. For everyone’s misery. It probs and probes and gets more and more frustrated. Amara in the meantime just searches for a way out, stoically. The envy demon speaks of abuse of power, corruption and how she will be the downfall of the Inquisition, it gets more and more extreme, the less reaction she shows. It tries to get to know her and in doing so understands her less and less. It’s first impressions of her sounded like her, like something she would say or do. But the longer the demon goes on, the worse it’s impressions get. What it doesn’t understand is why she isn’t provoked or outraged. Amara doesn’t understand it either why such a powerful creature gets so frustrated with her.
When she finds Cole he shows her how to actually get out and she is, aside from how well she thinks she held up, still very glad to no longer be completely alone. Though the thought and understanding that all this is literally happening in her head is making her really uncomfortable. Cole knows pretty quickly what is keeping the demon from getting the reactions and therefore knowledge it wants: Every single thing the envy demon said to Amara is something she has already been telling herself. They don’t make her angry anymore, just apathetic. He tries to tell her that it’s not true but she doesn’t want to hear it. She makes him promise to not tell a single soul even. When they finally break free from the envy demon’s hold and end his life physically she doesn’t tell Cassandra or Vivienne how exactly she didn’t fall for the demon. She thankfully lets them assume that she is just remarkably strong willed and Cole, for now, keeps his promise.
When the decision of how to deal with the templar order falls to her suddenly Amara feels very left alone. She was counting on Cassandra telling her what to do or simply taking charge of the situation even. She thinks of home,i both the Dalish and of Wycome. She doesn’t know many mages but the ones she did know were terrified of the Templars. Even the Dalish kept their distance. She had heard about Kirkwall, she had read Varric’s Tale of the Champion and even though she things he is certainly taking liberties with the story some things seemed to horrible to be made up to her. So she decided to disband the Order and integrate them into the Inquisition. If the Templars really wanted to help they shouldn’t care under what name in her opinion. Back in Haven Cullen is not very happy with her but Cassandra and Leliana have her back and she is grateful for that. Even though she still wishes they wouldn’t have let her decide in the first place.
After that they go on and seal the breach. Successfully. And again, for a non-magic user it makes a lot more sense to suppress the magic that keeps the breach open than to randomly throw more magic into the magical portal. Perspective. What follows is a wonderful party. Well, the first 3-4 hours are a wonderful party. the rest of the night is more or less of a shit show. Dorian shows up at their gate, surrounded by a lot of dead bodies. (Insert jokes about necromancy here please.) He comes to warn them of the super dangerous even ancient darkspawn that is about 500 meters behind him. Well, it’s the thought that counts. Amara takes her already well oiled Cass/Viv/Bull Team and they try to fight off an entire invasion.
In general I don’t like dark spawn. At all. And Coryphifish is not only that, no he talks. A lot. And he really likes himself talk. A lot. He is very moustache-twirling-comic-book-evil but has absolutely zero personality and motivation. Luckily for Amara she doesn’t know this yet at this point and therefore the scenes are appropriately terrifying and epic.
Given how much I love the Architect I think Coriphnus could have been a great villain. If he was written completely different that is. Sadly he has the depth and personality of a mouldy petri dish. Given that, by the end of Trespasser, he isn’t actually *THE* antagonist for the Inquisitor I let it slide. Thankfully, next to him is Calpernia. And while Corisiphus is a boring bore she thankfully is the opposite of that. Especially compared to Samson, who is his right hand man if you pick the mage’s side she is a well done character and the quests to understand and defeat her are actually great. (That whole shine of dumat thing and the final confrontation with her are some of my favourite moments in Inquisition.) So not all excitement is lost.
In the end Amara gets to mouth off and bury the village under an avalanche. What a way to end a party. That definitely tops Leliana’s small clothes on the chanter’s board thing. Definitely. And Amara will tell her so as soon as she stops freezing to death.
And then comes my most hated part of the game. And I feel like I have to explain this carefully. Because it is a very personal and at the same time hugely relevant for many thing. I am talking about Mother Giselle and the ‘The Dawn Will Come’ scene. And what is one of the greatest problems of Inquisition for me: The manipulation of the players emotions. Now, in general I am not completely against that. To a degree that is how storytelling works. And how many things in game work. But: In this instance it shows one of Inquisition’s main problems: The story wants to play off of my personal feelings as the player – regardless of my character. That scene is written for the person behind the screen – even if it makes 0 sense for 4 out 5 characters that play through it. It’s the same with Leliana’s death in the mage quest line. Yes it is sad. ´For me who played DAO and loves her. My Character? Knows her for a couple of weeks and has no personal connection to her. My character doesn’t even see the actual sacrifice Leliana makes because she is busy jumping back through the portal. Yes is supposed to bee deeply upset but the death (that she didn’t witness!) of a person she didn’t know well at all.
This kind of mixing up two different levels of the narrative doesn’t work for me. On the contrary, it makes me resentful. And Inquisition keeps doing that. It is a very basic writing error that young novelists get chewed out for by their publishers and their readers alike. Yet somehow it is game of the year material for some…
But back to the Dawn will come scene: That has another layer for me. I am someone who grew up in a very restrictive, cultishly organised religious subgroup. The kind where you have to spend 6 out of 7 days in church, are not really allowed to have friends outside the church setting and grow up with certain expectations and behaviours. And every thing about this scene was literally a 1:1 copy of that life for me. A life that I left almost 15 years ago that still bubbles back up from time to time. And to a degree the whole messiah narrative of Inquisition makes me want to puke sometimes.
Because the thing that people complain about from a narrative point of way? That they say ‘but I don’t believe this’ or ‘but I am not even part of your chantry’? That isi a thing that is far more than just bad or lazy writing for me. It is literally how my life has been. “But I don’t believe this” was countered with “you can’t make room in your heart for the possibility of more?” – Literally what Cassandra says to an elven inquisitor. The complete disregard for the emotions and beliefs of the inquisitor if you are not Andrastian is something that shaped the first 16 years of my life and I can not really see that without context. And context that evokes mostly painful memories and a shitton of fear.
So it is also really no use or arguing we me about it. People who didn’t grow up like this have simply no frame of reference to understand this. To close of my own personal sob story: I left back then. I got out and I am at a very good point if life today. But it cost me. A lot. So much that I can understand every person who simply stays. And it shaped me and gave me a very different perspective on many things. One that is not up for debate. One that makes me feel very emotional about characters like Leliana or Sebastian even, who struggle with their faith and what it means for their world view. And who gladly get either vilified or branded nutjobs by fandom most of the time.
So where some people simply might see singing and nice music and a great “coming together” I see a mentality that terrifies me. I see childhood abuse in the name of faith. I see people being emotionally manipulated and herded like sheep. I see a religious figure (Mother Giselle) that knows damn well the power she has and is not above using the power of having masses behind her to force a single individual who might think differently to accept her view. I see a scene where I skip everything I can skip and where I almost stopped playing this game completely when I saw it the first time. And I constantly see people loving said scene and trying to tell me that my perspective is wrong, I should lighten up and that it is just a game. And I am frankly sick of it.
I apologise for this article not being as lighthearted as I usually try to keep it. But that was bound to happen sooner or later with this game. Thankfully after that part the absolute worst was already behind me.