Tag Archives: Dragon Age: Inquisition

2017 Game Review Haiku, #64 – Dragon Age: Inquisition

Close breach, after quests
Many, many quests–please stop
I’m still playing this

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

Five games I’ve been perpetually playing these last few months

Right now, change is afoot. Good change, happy change. Not useless pennies and dirty nickels change, but the quality of life kind. Because of that, I’ve put off starting a bunch of new, so fresh and so clean games, especially large time-sinks like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which will be my reward for completing chapter two of Death, Divorce, and Disney, whenever that happens. I also have my beady eyes on LEGO Worlds, Thimbleweed Park, Yooka-Laylee, and LEGO City Undercover. And that’s just a few off the top of my hairy head. There’s never been a better time to be playing videogames, both new and less new.

Because of this, I’ve been focusing on a few games only over the last few months, trying not to juggle too many things at once. Let’s take a look at them, through words of course…

Dragon Age: Inquisition

I got this and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor digitally for Xbox One during Microsoft’s Black Friday sale last November. Of the two, I picked the one I hadn’t already played a bit of and really enjoyed myself. For a good while, too, especially once I got to Skyhold and found myself running my own castle of loyal followers and friends. However, this game is big. Perhaps bloated in spots, with a lot of side quests that, while not interesting or extremely rewarding, must be completed because they are on a list of unfinished tasks, and I have to be thorough because I’m probably ever only going to play Dragon Age: Inquisition once and so I might as well see it all.

Each region is massive, and I recently stumbled prematurely into an area meant for post-game DLC, though I suspect I’m somewhat underleveled for it considering how many potions I’m burning through with each encounter. Oh well. It must be completed. That said, I don’t even know what is going on with the plot or how much of the main game I have left to see. Methinks a ton, which is why I will continue poking at this dragon-esque adventure for a few more months still, until the sky is free of every mystical demon-summoning gate.

Stardew Valley

I only got about 25 to 30 hours in on Stardew Valley when playing it on PC last year, but since then, it came out on consoles, and growing crops at Melanator Farm has been a mainstay in my weekly gaming routine. I’m certainly further than before on the Xbox One, now working through my second year of that sweet, sweet farmin’ life. Here’s a quick summary: I’ve completed the Community Center, I’m married to Maru, and we have a baby that four-hearts me very much. I still have a bunch of other things I want to do, like ship more crops, befriend more dudes (Maru doesn’t like when I gift too nicely to other women in town), and go at least another year and see what my Grandpa thinks of my work.

Battle Ages

Somewhere in my lengthy list of drafts here at Grinding Down, I have a work-in-progress blog post for Battle Ages that I have been saving for when I “complete” the game. Or rather when I feel like I’ve completed my time with it. I thought that might have happened sooner than later, as I’m nearly the last Achievement I want to pop, which is for leveling up my settlement to the Industrial Age. That costs 6.5 million in-game gold coins, which takes a while to build up, especially when you log in and see that you lost a million or so when not playing due to invading enemies and such. This is a free-to-play take on Age of Empires with limited space to build and glacier-like slow gameplay, but it’s something I keep dipping into every now and then to see how my people are progressing between Netflix and going to bed.

Gimme Five

Gimme Five, besides being a somewhat odd name and just makes me think of that one Seinfeld episode, is a trivia game that puts your knowledge of anything and everything to the test. Questions range from rhyming words to geography to pop culture to math and so on. It really does run the gamut. The aim of the game is simple–answer as many questions as you can before the time runs out. Each question has 5 correct answers, and in order to move on to the next question you need to answer it correctly. Or you can use some power-ups, like skipping the question entirely, highlighting one right selection, or removing all the wrong answers.

It’s trivia. That means I have good runs and bad runs, depending on the subjects at hand. For instance, I’m phenomenal at identifying words with five syllables, and I’m not so good with prime numbers or countries in Africa that border another country. Backing all this thinking is a surprisingly great soundtrack, and the UI is clean and easy to navigate. Gimme Five is something I go to when waiting for my dinner to cook or need to zone out for a few minutes, with my intention being to only play a round or two and then discover I’ve done ten in a row and it’s half an hour later.

Disney magical world 2

When I last wrote about Disney Magical World 2 here, it was in January 2017, and I was ready to put the collectathon down for a bit until the in-game environments changed over for Spring on April 1. I mostly kept to this plan, putting some time into Pokémon Moon and Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King instead. However, a few weeks before Spring was to debut, I put the cartridge back into my 3DS and have been chipping away at my completion rate (now over 50%!), as well as those post-game pro stickers. I have only one left, which asks you to surf 400 meters in Lilo and Stitch’s land without falling off. This is no easy task, requiring luck and timing and a strong thumb, and the best I’ve gotten to is around 375 meters.

Since then, Spring has hit Castleton, with character-themed eggs to find, bunny costumes to craft, and Easter medals to stock up on. This season will last sometime into June, if I recall correctly. Maybe I’ll be around 75% completion by the time things change once more. We’ll see.

I fully expect to still be playing these five games, as well as some others, like Gears of War 4 and Borderlands 2, over the next few months. After all, sometimes familiarity amidst change can be calming, grounding. This is a topic for another post down the road, but I actually have anxiety over all the untouched games in my collection and often freeze when trying to decide what to play next, settling for something that I already know and enjoy rather than plunging into the unknown.

What games have stayed in rotation lately for you? Tell me about them in the comments below. Especially if one of them is Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator. Especially.

Grinding Down’s 2017 gaming resolutions

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This is always dangerous, making promises. I’ve done it in the past here on Grinding Down, only to burn myself and those written words when it, for instance, ultimately, took many more years for me to beat Final Fantasy IX. Still, it’s always good to have goals, something to reach for and hopefully achieve after putting in the hard work, and, at the very least, these empty checkmark boxes give me direction, a place to go when I’m not sure what to do next. I’m not saying I’ll be successful on every account below, but I am willing to try. For all we know, 2017 could be the year of our very unmaking, and I might as well go down fighting for a cause, trivial as some of these may be.

Right. Allow me to highlight some future gaming goals…

Suikoden III

It’s always been my intention to play (and replay) the entire Suikoden series from start to finish to get to the games I’ve never touched yet, specifically Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, and Suikoden Tactics. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t believe I ever saw credits roll on Suikoden V, but I do have a memory card save…somewhere. I got through replaying the first two games rather quickly, but then moved on to other non-Konami adventures after that.

For 2017, I’d like to get back to collecting them 108 Stars of Destiny, especially after finally playing some Dragon Age: Inquisition last year and seeing a few strong connections between the two. The roadblock is that I want to finish up everything for Dragon Age: Inquisition first before moving on to another large, time-demanding RPG. I just became friends with Dorian and am looking to move things forward romantically with Blackwall before tackling many more side missions. It’s probably going to be awhile.

So, I did play a bit of Suikoden III a few years ago, but my PlayStation 2 copy seems scratched up and unreliable. Thankfully, during some past PSN flash sale, I purchased a digital copy for the PlayStation 3, which means I really have no excuse now. It’s installed, ready to go. The real question is, as always, what to name my castle once I acquire it.

Earthbound

I’m not sure what it’s going to take me to finally start playing EarthBound. I was hoping buying the game, for more or less zero dollars thanks to Nintendo Club’s closing back in May 2015, was a solid place to begin. Alas, nope. I haven’t loaded it up once. Honestly, having this game available on the Wii U gamepad and not actually a Super NES locked to a TV should make this process even easier, considering I can take the experience with me into bed (hey now) before the Sandman visits.

However, that would mean I’d have to put down my Nintendo 3DS for some time, and with Disney Magical World 2 taking up all my pre-sleep time and Pokemon Moon waiting in the wings–as well as the remake of Dragon Quest VIII waiting even further in the wings–this might not happen just yet. Maybe by Spring 2017. I mostly wrote that to both give myself some breathing room, but also a starting point to stick to. This one’s for you, Iwata.

Steam backlog

At the time of writing, I have 362 games in my Steam library. Yeowza. Granted, many are not installed, and not all of them are huge, triple A titles that can’t even run well on my struggling-to-breathe ASUS laptop. Many have not been played at all, in fact. See, I have a bad habit of downloading just about every free thing released on the platform, as well as gobbling up indie bundles for real cheap to bloat this thing out even more. It’s gotten to the point that, when I do finally occasionally scroll through the list, I can barely remember where some of these titles came from, and then I freeze in fear, unable to decide what to try next, eventually settling on something safe, like AdVenture Capitalist or another unsuccessful run in Runestone Keeper. This is a problem.

I’m not here to make any kind of crazy schedule, like trying to play X number of games every week. That’s not going to gel with life. I am, however, here to make an effort, and make that effort known. I’m going to start small, using HowLongToBeat to help identify the not-so-big-timesinks and start whittling away from there. My problem, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, is that I always want to experience as much of a game as possible, that I can’t remove it simply after beating it if there are, for instance, collectibles remaining to find or extra challenges that could be accomplished. I need to work on that. I need to accept that not every game needs to be squeezed dry, leaving nothing behind but a colorless husk. For 2017, I need to let go more often.

80,000 Gamerscore

This seems more than doable, especially considering that I jumped 10,000 Achievement points in the matter of six months last year. This goal also feeds into the constant sub-goal of clearing up hard-drive space on my consoles and removing finished games, as I continue to download those freebies every month, but not do much else with them except wonder when I’ll find the time. I’m looking to polish off Earthlock: Festival of Magic real soon, as well as a number of those single introductory episodes from Telltale’s numerous adventure gaming series, which will probably help make a good step forward towards this next milestone.

Create something one might call a game or experience or waste of time

Now, I know nothing about programming and code and how to submit something for certification with the big console-makers. It takes me upwards of three minutes to remember how to hyperlink something using HTML when the button doesn’t work here on WordPress. That’s fine. I’m not looking to do all that and beyond. This can obviously be argued, but: I can draw, I can write, and I have ideas.

And so, I want to create something. An experience, with emotions and mood and meaning and jokes, maybe stuff to click on, a puzzle or two or twist you never saw coming. Something interactive. Which leads me to think that a piece of interactive fiction is a good starting area. I plan playing a few pieces of interactive fiction soon, which will hopefully help bring the inspiration juices to a boil (ew gross). The trickier part would be deciding what story to tell, y’know, from the hundreds bouncing around in my brain every day.

Well, there you have it. Five things make a post. Two named games to finally dive into, a whole bunch of things within my Steam library, a larger Gamerscore, and something creative. We’ll stop there, as any more goals will just tip the boat over.

That said, how about y’all? What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2017? It need not be related to videogames. Perhaps you are finally ready to start cleaning up that garage full of clutter (hi, Dad!) or want to exercise more or get into knitting. Either way, let me know in the comments. I like knowing.

The triumpant return of Dragon Age: Inquisition

gd-da-inquisition-impressions-skyhold_front

I gave up on Dragon Age: Inquisition and Girgna the dwarven warrior pretty quickly after hitting that bug with meeting Blackwall, deciding that this PlayStation 3 version was not the right version for me. It constantly froze at the war room table and other places, and the tiny text made every quest description a guess to my eyes. Basically, every time I turned it on, I knew I was taking a chance, that all my progress could very well be for nothing. That the tears in the sky weren’t the only forces working against my gaming desires to collect herbs and turn in missions. This was back in January 2015.

Let’s zip forward to around now, to the Black Friday hubbub and shower of sales, both at retail and online, and Dragon Age: Inquisition is deeply discounted for $16.00. Keep in mind that this is the Game of the Year edition, which means it is brimming with DLC and pre-order bonuses, but also for the Xbox One, a system that seemed to run the game just fine if reviews and forums were to be trusted. Plus, this is much less than I paid for my original, broken and abandoned-by-Bioware PS3 copy around the time it was originally released. I couldn’t resist, and thus I am back in this bloody, high fantasy world, collecting Elfroot with every step.

Strangely enough, I am now playing as an elven rogue named Felena, but other than the pointy ears and white-ish forehead tattoos, she looks identical to Girgna. I guess I always subconsciously default to a certain style when playing as a female avatar. Oh well. I’m digging using a bow and arrows way more than charging headfirst into the action only to get my health meter depleted in a few swipes. I’ve also made it further than I did on my first go and have pleasantly discovered that there’s a wee bit of Suikoden in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Don’t get too excited–it is, after all, just a wee bit, but I’ll take it over nothing.

Many will urge new players to Dragon Age: Inquisition to not dawdle and waste away in the Hinterlands. Sure, there’s a ton of things to do in that section of the map, but you only need to do so much to move the story forward plot-wise, and I suggest this too. Granted, I still put at least eight hours into the Hinterlands before even visiting the Storm Coast for the first time, but I am stubborn and wanted to recreate my original adventure as much as possible. Anyways, plow forward, and you’ll eventually leave Haven behind for a full-fledged castle called Skyhold, and it is here that you can wander from room to room, seeing where each of your recruited companions are calling home. Sure, you don’t have 108 of them to find, but I still found it more exciting and rewarding to explore than the ship in Mass Effect 2. Plus, you can play decorator, changing the windows, curtains, beds, thrones, and so on to your creative heart’s desire.

I’m going to gently dip into spoiler territory for a moment, meaning this is your chance to run for the hills. Staying? Okay, cool. The quest before you get to Skyhold is about losing Haven, which has been acting as a subpar headquarters for the Inquisition as they figure out where they are going. At one point, you can actually save certain villagers and people in Haven, but must also fight off the waves of demons heading your way simultaneously. Unfortunately, I couldn’t save everyone. Those I did are now in Skyhold, momentarily safe, and those that perished…well, they are no more. This bums me out majorly, as I didn’t realize any of this was possible and naturally didn’t rely on saving and re-loading to keep every sentenced soul alive and well. Every Suikoden playthrough is a single-minded mission to bring all aboard and keep them breathing, especially during the war battle sequences. I want to apply the same mentality here.

All that said, I’m ecstatic to be back in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and that the game is running smoothly on the Xbox One, with the only oddness being a glitch or two where a character will suddenly float up in the air and then land elsewhere. I saw a dragon to this to a giant, too. To me, that’s just magic. I really enjoyed the scope and some of the stories from Dragon Age: Origins and wisely skipped out on the second entry, but this one seems pretty solid, with plenty to do, even if I am growing tired of picking up Elfroot. Just kidding, Elfroot is life. No, literally…I use it to replenish healing potions. I’ll let everyone know if I’m able to revive Gremio right before the final fight.

Five things make a post, so please stop uppercutting me to death

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Things have been a little quiet over here at Grinding Down, and there’s a good reason for it, though I can’t reveal much at this time. Basically, I’m neck-deep in comic work and have been severely limiting my ferocious playing of videogames. Crazy, I know, especially since I’m right in the middle of my 2015 goal of seeing Final Fantasy IX‘s end credits–hey, remember when I wrote about how something always comes by and pushes me away during the second or third disc? Yeah, that’s what’s going on at the moment, but I have the fullest of intentions to get back to solving what’s really going on in that Black Mage Village.

That said, there has still been a few glimmers of activity, which brings us to this style of post.

FINISH HIM/HER, I CAN’T

I picked up the Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection the other week during that crazy good PSN flash sale and have been inching away at it slowly. There’s not much to actually inch away at, seeing as these are literally just a column of enemies to three-round fight until you get to the end. Naturally, I remember everything a little different, back when I used to play these on my neighbor’s Genesis, and I don’t recall the computer AI being so difficult. I’ve even dropped the difficulty settings down to “very easy,” seeing little change. I won’t feel satisfied until they are all best, but for now I’ve only beaten the original Mortal Kombat (using Raiden, of course), though Goro still took a number of tries in the double digits.

Free-to-Pokemon nightly

I continue to use up my allotted five hearts in Pokemon Shuffle once a day, at night actually, just before Mr. Sandman comes calling. Strangely, since changing the system clock on my 3DS due to Daylight’s Saving Time, the game thinks I’m trying to pull one out from under it and has restricted my access to the “Special” levels. Unless I want to do blah blah blah–whatever, game. It’s not my fault you and the system don’t grok how the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour works. Currently, I’m stuck on level 120, unable to take down a Mega Glalie, which is forcing me to go backwards, grind my hearts away while occasionally capturing a new Pokemon. It’s fine, really. So long as my captured pocket monsters are slowly gaining XP every night, I’ll eventually be strong enough to hit level 121. You gotta believe!

Greetings to Gracie

This should be no surprise to anyone, but I’m still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf religiously and continuing to unlock slash see new elements of the game some years after its release. Such as finishing up Gracie’s Fashion Check quest four times, which results in the fashionista giraffe opening up a store of her own and upgrading your department store to fit all her swanky merchandise. Still need to pay off my house in full, fill the museum with more bugs, fish, and pieces of art, and get Katrina to open up a stationary fortune-telling shop in the town square. There’s always something to do, and even when there isn’t, just chatting up neighbors and pulling weeds is enough to satisfy me for fifteen minutes.

Not epic text, but bigger

Several weeks back, I saw word of another Dragon Age: Inquisition patch incoming, and usually these patches are just a long list of very specific catches/fixes that I might not ever notice or come across, but one item in this update stood out to me: Added an option to control the font size of subtitles. I’ve run into a lot of problems with the latest entry in the Dragon Age series–see here, as well as see here–but nothing got me to quit that game hard after only a few hours than its teeny tiny–nearly unreadable–text size. I’ve since loaded up the game again to discover that, yes, the text is much bigger and easier to read. Perhaps I’ll continue on with Girgna’s journey and actually leave the Hinterlands after Final Fantasy IX.

Unsuccessful hunter of monsters

Three times I’ve entered a physical store and tried to buy a copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate only to be told to scram. Well, no, not that. But mainly that such-and-such didn’t have a retail copy for sale. Now, I know I totally could go and order one from Amazon or download it via the eShop (actually, I can’t, as I doubt I have enough free blocks space for it), but that’s not my main operative. I want to go into a store and buy a thing and then have that thing in my hand, ready to be consumed. Me being me, I’m going to take this as a sign that I probably shouldn’t buy MH4U even though it seems like an interesting action game brimming with cats and cat-fed puns. This also happened when I tried to get Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Fire Emblem: Awakening, though I did procure a copy of the latter eventually. Meh, time will tell.

And there you go. Five random thoughts for a Friday.

Dragon Age: Inquisition’s war table is frozen with fear

dragon age inquisition war table game freezes gd

My favorite quest so far in Dragon Age: Inquisition is the one where you move the cursor across the war table map only to have the game freeze and hard-lock your PlayStation 3, forcing you to manually power it down, turn it back on, report an error to Sony–which I assume goes right into some digital trash bin–and then wait five to ten minutes while the console does a repair fix to ensure nothing got broken. I love this mission so much that I’ve replayed it at least four times now. Sometimes I like to do this mission after playing for a good amount and forgetting to save recently, forcing me to replay parts I already did because I can’t seem to remember just how borked this AAA title from BioWare actually is.

No wonder people are playing Dragon Age: Inquisition for such a high amount of hours. Seems like whatever latest patch that went on did nothing to fix stability, certainly nothing to enlarge the tiny text. Grr. To the Void with that!

Dragon Age: Inquisition is concerned with the fate of the world, not text size

Dragon Age Inquisition GD early thoughts 2

Like many, the millisecond I saw that one of Amazon’s major Cyber Monday bargains was for $15.00 off the very still new Dragon Age: Inquisition, I dropped whatever I was holding/doing and purchased a copy…for the PlayStation 3. It arrived a few days later and sat on my kitchen table, waiting patiently for me to finish up some artwork projects, as well as Suikoden II. Here’s a quick life lesson for y’all that I’ve learned over my thirty-one years of doing this grind called living: don’t start one massive RPG before completing another.

Anyways, over the weekend, I put about an hour and a half into Dragon Age: Inquisition, and all I got to show for it is this t-shirt that says “Leave the Hinterlands” in big, bold, bloody lettering. Nah, that’s not true. What I actually got is a female dwarven warrior named Girgna, who likes to charge right into the thick of things and even taunt enemies as she swings a sword into their necks. This style of fighting is very much the opposite of my usual path, but my friend Tom is also playing the game, walking the good, wholesome path of a nice wizard lady named Dandelion, and I wanted us to have different experiences to talk about.

Dragon Age: Inquisition evidently picks up immediately the events of Dragon Age II, where mages and Templars are finally at ends with each other. However, there are talks of a peace treaty in the works, but those deals and promises are interrupted by a magical explosion, leaving a single survivor. Yup, that’s you, the one with the green-colored hand. Some believe you caused this explosion, while others think you’re a blessing from the prophet Andraste. Either way, demons are now emerging from the rift in the sky, and you are the only one who can do anything about it. Get ready to age a dragon or something.

So far, I’m finding my return to Ferelden…a bit underwhelming. Granted, I’ve not touched the series seriously since Dragon Age: Origins, deciding after trying the demo and listening to the Internet that Dragon Age II was not for me. Now, I really really liked Dragon Age: Origins; it had characters and scope and deeply integrated lore and tough, but rewarding combat. It also had some problems, such as tiny text, glitched Achievements because I know I killed at least 500 darkspawn (though not 1,000), clunky inventory menus, and that whole side quest surrounding the Fade. Still, the good outweighed the bad, and that banter while wandering around towns or the forest really gave me the warmest of warm feelings.

However, in just an hour and a half with Dragon Age: Inquisition, I’m experiencing a ton of issues. The graphics on the PlayStation 3 version are sub-par; I mean, it looks like the first game, which came out four years ago, and I know we can have nicer visuals at this point thanks to Grand Theft Auto V and even Destiny. Many textures are garbled and flat or late to load in when a cutscene starts. Again, graphics are certainly not everything to me, but working graphics is a whole different issue. Audio sync is also off, and there was one moment where characters left the scene, but the camera remained fixed on the forest for a few extra seconds, while nothing happened. And this all brings me to the thorniest of roadblocks: the tiny text. I cannot sit on the couch and read most of the text, which is, y’know, frustrating for a roleplaying game where you make important decisions. I cannot read weapon descriptions or newly added lore blurbs. I cannot see the numbers for my character’s experience bar. Sounds like it doesn’t matter if you have an SD or HD television either, and I’m not the only one upset about this.

I’ll hold out hope (but not much) for a future patch to increase the font size. Until then, I’m relying on other elements to tell me what’s going on. When you examine an item, you’ll see some bars below your character go up in green or down in red, thus telling you if it is helpful or not. That said, I don’t know exactly what each bar is measuring. Some dialogue choices are accompanied by a small graphic, indicating what kind of response you are about to give, even if you can’t read it. Girgna has now finished the prologue section and been told about the Hinterlands, but I’m still hanging around the opening area, trying to find some crafting items to make weapons and armor before I move ahead to the zone everyone says to not linger in. Plus, there’s plenty of hairless nugs running around, begging to be target practice.

Not the best start for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Call me crazy, but I like reading the text in my videogames, even if it is badly translated.