Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) is the third major game in the high-fantasy series Dragon Age by Canadian video game developer BioWare. Building on years of experience building expansive role-playing games (such as and the Mass Effect trilogy), the studio specializes in ‘deep’ role-playing game worlds, and Dragon Age: Inquisition is no exception. Rich in world lore, impressive in its attention to detail, the game delivers an experience that goes beyond people’s expectations of the immensely popular fantasy RPG genre.
Artistically, the studio stays close to the rulebook of high fantasy video games (or film and literature, for that matter). There’s a large set of mages, knights, and elves, wandering through forests and fields, en route to castle keeps and rustic villages. There’s dragons and magic spells, potions and enchanted swords, but what sets them apart is the depth of thought behind every in-game design. Studio creatives (artists, but also the team of writers) have obviously invested serious time doing research into anything from medieval armor to stained glass windows, and use this research in designing objects that simply belong to this world. A certain type of dress on a village character shares certain specifics with other items found elsewhere, thus linking them together in the player’s head, informing the player about the existence of certain cultures within the game’s population.
This contextualization of objects makes all the difference. Instead of engaging a random collection of medieval-looking objects, players find in-game items imbued with meaning and culture, thus elevating Dragon Age: Inquisition far, far above the many cookie-cutter fantasy games out there.