My best concern about Netflix’s Dragon Age: Absolution was that it’d spoil the grand debut of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf‘s new setting in Tevinter. Once I lastly get to play Deadwolf, I need to uncover its surprises myself, not acknowledge them as reveals already wrung out for a Netflix spin-off. My fears have been all for naught, as a result of it seems that Absolution is in such a rattling rush to inform its personal story that it would not have time to spoil the rest.
Dragon Age: Absolution revolves round a cobbled collectively group of thieves employed by the Inquisition—savor your 10 second Cassandra and background Leliana cameo right here as a result of it is the one one you are getting—to steal a magical artifact referred to as the Circulum Infinitus. It is being held by the Tevinter Chantry and a magister who’s useless set on utilizing it. The Circulum Infinitus is powered by blood magic, you see, which is sufficient of a motive to ship these in any other case disposable characters on a heist to seize it.
In case you are not selecting up the vibe, Absolution is completely not an approachable entry level to Dragon Age, irrespective of the obscure noises on the contrary BioWare or Netflix have made.
Within the first jiffy we’re launched to our rogue elf (within the daggers approach and the ‘was previously a Tevinter slave’ approach) protagonist Miriam, who proves she’s a cutthroat badass by sabotaging her personal recruited goons as a distraction for a heist. One minute after that, we meet the boss of her present crew who has beef together with her strategies.
Lower than a minute after that is the arrival of her ex-girlfriend Sapphira, who broke up together with her to go be a part of the Inquisition. They clearly even have beef. We meet “the remainder of the crew,” have a disagreement after which heart-to-heart as a result of Hira deceived Miri concerning the goal of their mission for *checks notes* just a few hours, tops. We get 60 seconds of literal voice-over lore dump about Tevinter tradition through the montage journey to their vacation spot, town of Nessum.
The runtime to this point is 11 minutes.
Associates, I recognize an excellent “in medias res,” however this looks like I unintentionally walked into the primary episode of a second season. You understand that déjà not-vu phenomenon of realizing that everybody is subtly recapping occasions you are meant to have already seen? Besides that is it. That is episode one. I really feel completely within the deep finish regardless of understanding my Dragon Age. Most likely an excessive amount of Dragon Age.
And I do know why it is taking place.
We have met six characters. There are nonetheless two important plot-central characters that we cannot meet till episode two. The full runtime of the season is 138 minutes. (Netflix quotes them as 30 minute episodes however they clock in at 23 apiece.) Dragon Age: Absolution simply would not have sufficient time for its complete ensemble forged. It barely has sufficient time to string alongside its central plot, not to mention three romantic relationships and a handful of flashbacks in much less time than Robert Pattinson spent on display screen as Batman this 12 months.
What occurs in Tevinter
Right here begins the spoiler-lite portion. You’ve got been warned.
After its first episode of introductions, Dragon Age: Absolution revolves round a single night time and day’s heist on the Imperial Divine’s trip palace in Nessum. The younger magister who’s decided to make use of the Circulum to convey somebody again to life can also be, in fact, Miri’s former grasp Rezaren. What unfolds is usually a standard heist plot: a distraction, a pair vault crackers, a fouled escape route, tripped defenses, an unlikely betrayal, an interrogation, and so forth. Other than the breakneck tempo, it is pleasurable, basic smash and seize motion.
Absolution takes to its function as a derivative, peppering in references to Dragon Age: Inquisition with mentions of the Hinterlands, the Herald of Andraste, and name-dropping magister Amelia Pavus, who’s presumably an ancestor of Dorian’s. Hira ultimately mentions a contact at The Hanged Man bar in Kirkwall, although no, it isn’t a Varric cameo, sorry. It makes time for some snappy battle choreography and colourful magic battles with rage and delight demons simply recognizable from many fights all through the video games.
However Dragon Age is a collection primarily pushed by its emotionally fraught characters, which is why the sheer quantity that Absolution tries to pack into its season is such against the law. Any one among them had the capability to be a brand new fan favourite, however the tempo reduces even the perfect of them to bullet factors. Qwydion is a comic book aid qunari, Lacklon and Roland collectively are (spoiler alert) what fandom will consult with as “grumpy x sunshine,” and Fairbanks is your normal smooth-talking, lock-picking rogue who’s, himself, a Dragon Age: Inquisition sidequest callback (opens in new tab).
Absolution’s later episodes do veer into the correctly grim, morally grey Dragon Age storytelling that the video games earned my loyalty with. The reveals about Miri’s relationships with each Hira and Rezaren are, on paper, the harrowing—pun meant, nerds—stuff of highly effective Dragon Age quest strains. And it would not shrink back from getting blood on its heroes’ fingers. Pressured to separate time with the total forged although, these reveals, their emotional appeals, and all of the monologues simply do not get to construct up sufficient inertia to essentially punch me within the intestine.
I do not know a rattling factor about Netflix’s manufacturing pipeline, nevertheless it looks like Absolution was pitched with an important define for a 12 episode animated season after which wound up getting lower in half. I’ve seen some ensemble forged miracles achieved with 12 episodes, however six? I will not say it may well’t be executed, solely that Absolution hasn’t executed it.
Come for the Codex entry
By the top, Absolution looks like a Dragon Age guidelines: It has three romances, demon battles, two cameos, blood magic, bants, an irreverent qunari, a badass woman Knight Commander, racism in opposition to elves, and determined mages turning to blood magic.
Have you ever ever tried to make actually, actually vibrant cookie frosting by dripping in an increasing number of meals coloring till it loses all structural integrity, turns into grainy, and simply tastes like dye? Absolution is that: a mealy Dragon Age slurry. I will nonetheless eat it and say “thanks,” as a result of I’ve no delight in the case of baked items or BioWare, however that is removed from the perfect batch.
Dragon Age: Absolution’s contribution to the collection will seemingly be a collection of trivia part bullet factors in a handful of Dragon Age Fandom wiki pages. It is an actual disgrace. Not least as a result of Dragon Age spinoffs have traditionally been nice. There are a number of novels, numerous comics, and a brief story assortment that each one vary from fairly good to wonderful.
Absolution itself will not actually declare area in my long-term reminiscence. What I care about most is what it would possibly say concerning the recreation I have been ready practically a decade to play. Does its heist focus imply that the spirit of Undertaking Joplin lives on in Dreadwolf? Does that very remaining reveal scene harken to a returning side-dish villain? What minutia did I miss that the lore students of the fandom will use to gas their prediction engines for nevertheless many months stay till Dreadwolf arrives? Can I’ve Miriam’s cool string dagger issues?
Watch Absolution. Earn your proper to play the seemingly Dragon Age: Dreadwolf sidequest that references its occasions and level on the display screen saying “oh yeah, it is them.” However after you do, go decide up a replica of the quick story assortment Tevinter Nights (opens in new tab) as an alternative. It is a vastly higher appetizer for Dreadwolf than Absolution is.