Dragon Age: Inquisition + Jaws of Hakkon DLC Review

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The game's audio department is far less interesting to analyze. The voice acting is mostly fine. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a huge game, so a poorly acted line is bound to pop up in places, but overall the cast turned in a solid effort. There are even a couple of voices for both the male and female versions of the Inquisitor. They aren't enough to cover all the possible character concepts, but they at least cover a spectrum of them. Incidentally, even after several games with the dialogue wheel, BioWare occasionally fails to paraphrase the dialogue lines correctly. At least from that point of view, the game feels distinctly BioWare.

There is also some music. I wish I had some feelings about it, but composer Trevor Morris (known for his work on History Channel's Vikings) took a very subtle approach with sound design. Music creeps in only occasionally and in the subtlest of ways, and only swells during rare instances, which usually coincide with important battle or cutscenes. It's not a bad soundtrack by any means, but it's too vanilla and doesn't add character to a game that really could have used some.

Technical Issues, Interface and Controls

Dragon Age: Inquisition's interface is poorly designed. Inventories are presented as lists nested with lists, information that should be grouped together is presented in separate tabs, and even the font and color choices are peculiar at best. On the upside, the PC version has a separate interface with an action bar, hotkeys, and shortcuts for the various menu tabs. It's not perfect, but it does go a long way to make the game feel at home on PC. Switching between gamepad and mouse and keyboard isn't as seamless as it should be, however, and requires a reboot of the game.

There are plenty of opportunities to restart Dragon Age: Inquisition anyway. The game crashed very often during my playtime, and even all the patches released since then haven't helped too much with the game's stability problems. The game is also full of minor bugs (I lost count of the NPCs I've seen float in mid-air), but those are much easier to excuse and ultimately don't detract too much from the game. 

Jaws of Hakkon

Jaws of Hakkon adds a new area to the world of Dragon Age: Inquisition with its own central and lengthy storyline and a number of sidequests and activities. As such, a lot of what can be said about the main game can be repeated for this DLC, and the things that Jaws of Hakkon does differently are what characterize it.

The DLC follows the Inquisitor's hunt for the remains of her preceding Inquisitor in the Frostback Basin, a region controlled by the Avvars, nomadic human tribes with a unique culture and very different beliefs from the Chantry. Storywise, it touches on many of the same themes as the main game. There are ancient histories to uncover, and the past is less convenient than anyone would like.

The relationship between common people and spirits is also explored, and provides what is the most interesting narrative material of what is otherwise a very plain DLC story-wise. There is, at least, a surprising amount of new banter and dialogue, and some of it even acknowledges whether you've finished the game or not, confirming BioWare's knack for small-scale interactions.

Frostback Basin is one of the highlights of the DLC but the first impression isn't good. Visually, it's a disappointment, a well-crafted area that doesn't really do anything that the original areas don't already do. But past first impressions, there's a lot to enjoy. The area makes mindful use of verticality and provides a lot of variety, so much that it could arguably be divided into a number of connected mini-zones.

Jaws of Hakkon also provides a few fairly challenging encounters that buck the players' expectations concerning encounter composition, and some actually good loot that isn't immediately superseded by crafted items. The side quests also feel slightly more interesting than in the main game, by virtue of better framing, stories and variety. I don't want to oversell this: we're still talking about activities that fit in the framework on the main game. Still, it's incredible what a little more dialogue can do, and how much more interesting a quest can be when it's exploring a foreign culture.

Ultimately, I can only recommend this DLC to the real fans of the original game. It offers more of what the game already offered with some slight improvements. For most, Dragon Age: Inquisition is already big as it is.

Concluding Thoughts

Re-reading this review, I can't help but wonder if I've been too harsh. Dragon Age: Inquisition is a surprisingly relaxing pastime, and there's a lot of it. Played one or two hours a day, it can last for a very, very long time. In many ways, it reminded me of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, another game that left me very little, but was very easy to play for long stretches of time.

But that's not what I think games should strive for, and that's not what BioWare's games strove for in the past. While the developers often fell short of their reputation as master storytellers, they always tried to craft interesting universes and fill them with stories that would resonate with people. I genuinely hope they weren't trying this time, because Inquisition would be a spectacular failure.