Dragon Age II Check-In: Week… 2? Finale?

You ever have big plans for something and they just didn’t work out? That was me with this Check-In series. I just couldn’t find the time or the energy to actually write any of the posts, although I did still play a couple hours a week. I ended up finishing the game quite a while ago and had only written the first entry in the series. As such, this is going to be more of a review than a typical Check-In post, but I still have to start with some numbers. The game is completed, it took just under 25 hours, and Ivan Ooze is level 21.

Dragon Age II does a lot of really cool things. Telling a story that takes place in one, pretty small area is unique for a big RPG like this, and skipping ahead in time to see how your actions affect the world around you is pretty neat. Your party members also get a much needed boost in personality when compared to the first game. This one feels much closer to Mass Effect, especially in the way your character responds to your choices. As I mentioned in the first post, I mostly stuck to snarky responses, which made Ivan Ooze Hawke a much more fun character to be around than the pretty bland Ivan Ooze the dwarf from the first game.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of my praises end. As cool as having the whole story center around one area is, it also means running through the same places over and over again. And I don’t just mean the towns and shops. There’s only a handful of dungeons, and most story missions take you to them. Sometimes, doors will open to certain parts of the dungeons that don’t open on other times. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve absolutely ran through this place already.

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Combat is unbearably dull, with pretty much every fight boiling down to mashing the attack button and just using abilities whenever their cooldown is over. I never really got a good handle on what my abilities did or why I’d want to use them at specific times and it totally didn’t matter. Just hit them when they’re available and maybe throw up a healing potion once in a while and you’ll do fine.

The story is kind of all over the place, with some absolutely amazing moments and other times that it’s blatantly obvious that the game was rushed. For example, remember how Varric exaggerated all the details at the very beginning or the game? There’s another point where you play as him and just mow down tons of bad guys with his crossbow, only to have it turn out to be just another exaggeration. That’s great! But other times, especially towards the end, I just can’t believe what happens.

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Normally in these posts I talk in detail about what happened in the story each week and spoil the hell out of the game. Obviously, I’m not going to do that here. Not only would it take too long to go over everything, but it’s been so long since I finished it that I don’t even have a great grasp over what happened. There’s a few moments that stick out though, and I’ll totally spoil them here.

As you probably expected from my first post, I ended up hooking up with Isabela. Eventually, she’d go on to steal some Qunari religious artifact, leading to a giant battle in the city. She skips town, but ends up coming back because Hawke is just so great and all that.

Another time, Hawke’s mother begins receiving attention from some unknown suitor who eventually gives her white lilies. This is all connected to a quest from earlier where a bunch of women have vanished. Turns out the killer is trying to bring back his dead wife by finding women with similar qualities to her, chopping them up, and stitching them together into a Frankenstein monster. Hawke’s mother is the head. So, that’s a thing that happened.

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At one point, Anders has you help him do something suspicious at the chantry. I’m sure that won’t result in anything.

At the end of the game, you’re asked to choose between helping out the mages or the Templars, who are about to kill each other. I went with the mages because the story is definitely slanted towards the Templars being in the wrong. It doesn’t matter though, because the leader of the mages just kind of decides to transform into a boss fight for no reason. So yeah, you kill both. Also, Anders blows up the chantry because that’s what he was setting up before. Hawke kills him, and they all lived happily ever after.

If the story seems kind of all over the place, a lot of that is because I’m only remembering certain things. The other part of it is that it kind of is all over the place. Throughout the game, I had a really hard time keeping track of what was going on, mostly because you’re tasked with doing side quests between each main story beat, which is fine, but it made everything feel really disconnected.

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So, yeah, I beat Dragon Age II. There’s definitely stuff I liked in it, but overall, I’m not a big fan of this game. Sorry to anyone who was waiting for the next part for as long as it took me to write it, only to have that be the basic conclusion. But, I still want to give the third game, Inquisition a try, so maybe we’ll look through that some time in the future.

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