Before I finally bought Dragon Age: Inquisition for the PS4 I spent weeks checking all the usual sites in the hope of a price reduction. To me, I thought it was important to wait until it went down in cost before I stumped up my cash for it.
I wanted value for money, even though I was depriving myself of a game I wanted for a long time just to save myself about £4.
That seems a bit daft, doesn’t it? But we’re conditioned to expect that the RRP of almost anything will reduce in the near future, so it’s something that we do.
Anyway, after waiting that long, I’ve finally ‘finished’ it today and my overall play time amounted to 68 hours (though you could probably reduce that by 5-to-7 hours for times when I’ve left the game on and gone away for a bit).
Obviously then you’ll be reading this and thinking that a) I must have enjoyed it and b) I certainly got my money’s worth.
And I suppose that’s true, but even after all that, I’ve come away from it with a sense of mild dissatisfaction. I’ve devoted all that time to playing a game and don’t really feel like I’ve achieved anything.
A game like Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t much of a challenge, or at least not in the way you want from a video game. Yes, the early parts are insufferably tough because you don’t know what you’re doing (it took me about 10 hours to understand the point of the War Room) and you don’t have a character powerful enough to defeat any enemies, but that doesn’t mean the game itself is challenging. To ‘finish’ it (and I say ‘finish’ because there’s probably still 20-30 hours of mundane side quests where my character collects stuff that I could complete if I wanted to) you just have to spend enough time playing it.
This isn’t like an old-school game where you would have to show skill and dexterity to complete one level before moving to the next. Instead, it’s just a game where everyone will win if they play for long enough. To that end, it’s a bit like the way school children these days are taught that winning doesn’t actually matter; everyone gets a medal for taking part.
And is that rewarding? Is that a good use of my time? Maybe it isn’t? Maybe I didn’t get utility from it after all? Ultimately, all I did was walk around, holding down the R2 button every time I came across an enemy and engaged in dialogue with other characters.
To some, that latter point might be the game’s big selling point. There does appear to be a rich narrative and deeply considered world in this game that you could invest in if you want, but really, I’ve got no interest in that sort of thing. I hate cutscenes with a passion, because they are never any good. It’s ropey voice acting and a script from the pen of someone who probably isn’t good enough to write for TV or Hollywood. Big whoop. Hold me back.
In fact, I paid so little attention to the story that by the time I got to the end and faced the final boss, I didn’t actually know who he was or why I was fighting him. That can’t be good can it? Based on how long I played it, that’s like watching four full length 24 episode seasons of a TV show and not knowing who the characters are by the end of it.
But by the very fact that I did play it for that long, I must have enjoyed it, right?
I think I did, but when putting my thoughts down on here it doesn’t seem like it.
Perhaps it’s just that I got to a point where I’d had enough of playing it? Perhaps the diminishing marginal returns of enjoyment I got from it sharply declined to zero at around the 65 hour mark when I decided that enough was enough and I had to play the final quest of the main story mode?
Either way, at this stage it feels like it’s been an ultimately confusing experience.
I think I’ll go back to playing FIFA, Call of Duty, Mercenary Kings or Super Mega Baseball for the next wee while.
My gaming pallet needs cleansed.