Dragon Age: Inquisition
If you're not prone to binging on TV shows, the thought of wading through a season or two of any given series might feel like you're facing a month's worth of hard-core yard work. I mean, who's got an extra 20 or 30 or 40 hours to throw around? Well, how about this? To make it to the final credits of the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition you're gonna need, oh, three to four times that amount of on-the-couch clock.
Ninety Nine Hours of War on the Wall ...
The 2014 installment of Dragon Age is one of the most expansive RPGs ever to crowd out other games on the shelf. And it makes you the focal VIP in a fantasy land called Thedas, a place full of mages, knights and, yep, you guessed it, dragons. You play as a guy or gal (human, elf, dwarf or bull-horned Quinari) who just happens to be accidentally caught up in a massive disaster, a supernatural event that tears an enormous hole in the sky—opening portals for demonic marauders from another dimension. This horrendous happening also leaves your character stunned and memory-less in the rubble of a demolished cathedral.
The one thing you still have up your sleeve (literally) is a glowing power source that's mysteriously attached to your left hand. It's a magical thing that can, with practice, actually close those dimension-linking demon-spewing rifts that are popping up around the land. And as the civilization of Thedas teeters on the brink of civil war and even anarchy, the few reasoned leaders left have but two choices: They can blame everything on you and kill you ... or hope that you're a holy guide sent to move everyone toward a better future. Thankfully, they opt for the latter.
As the newly dubbed Herald of Andraste, your job is a complicated one. You must identify and recruit a band of highly specialized fighters and magicians to take with you on quests, find ways to bring comfort and order to a reeling populace, create political alliances, stem the tide of a monstrous power grab, and micromanage all the moving parts of a nationwide inquisition meant to spiritually and physically heal the land. Sounds easy, right?
... Ninety Nine Hours of Gore ...
Each fulfilled quest offers up new story information and specific amounts of skill tree experience that help power up you and your crew. The quests also get you noticed and recognized as a hero amongst the people, yielding power points that in turn can be used to scout out and open bigger, more important story missions. It's a compelling game design that keeps you involved hour after hour, day after day. And then week after week and month after month.
What's not quite so compelling—when looked at with a discerning eye—is all the unsavory muck you have to endure during those lengthy engagements. There's foul language and battle mess to start with. F- and s-words pop up from time to time, along with "d--n" and "a--hole." Battlers wield swords, axes, bows, hammers, spells and bared fangs to splatter and smear blood about in ranged and melee combat. We see/experience/perpetrate impalings, throat slashes, bloody bodies in pools of gore and a variety of other screaming, gurgling gunk.
And the twisted fantasy world spirituality is always front and center in the oft-repeated Templar and Mage discussions.
But it's the sexual kinks that a gamer can find himself trapped in that will occupy the balance of this review. As with most games that BioWare creates, Dragon Age: Inquisition is all about narrative choices. That may include making new friends and forging alliances on the way to Armageddon. Or it can involve snapping up gay or straight sexual partners on the way to a back room.
... Take One Down, Pass Him Around
There are nine companion characters you can recruit for battle quests, and six of those (along with several other advisers) you can take to bed with the right amount of flattery and sensual wooing. Once romance flares, kissing and pawing activities quickly transition to afterglow moments as the camera lingers on nudity (male and female, with the most explicit bits covered).
Randy discussions before and after the heterosexual or homosexual encounters range from heated growls about arousal and bawdy mentions of oral proclivities to winking nods at self-pleasuring to gamey discussions of signal words to use in case the sexual situation becomes too painful or violent.
I should note that these digital fleshy frolics can be avoided altogether. But they likely won't be. In many reviews of this game, those are the very things that tend to actually overshadow the rest of the game's more typical fantasy RPG play. And they've even gotten the title banned altogether in parts of Asia.
So you might want to at least consider extending that ban to your own game room.