Thursday, 26 April 2018

Trials of Faith: ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ and Crises of Meaning

“Cast the Chantry aside, and new problems replace old ones. We will learn nothing from history.”
We blink our eyes, unsure as to where we are. Inky fog has enclosed all about, and a great nothingness seems to extend in all directions. We are then brought to our senses with a rush of panic. Finding ourselves all at once in the Fade, the realm of spirits and demons, pursued by the scuttling creatures we later come to recognise as ‘fearlings’. But within the space of this opening scene, there is no sense to be had — only the overwhelming sense of the need to flee. In media resDragon Age: Inquisition begins with a literal flight from fear.[i] Though we are not quite yet abandoned, there is a luminous figure calling out to us in warning. Her voice gives us direction — delivers us from this incongruous realm of shifting dust and shadows. We reach out to one we can only see as a saviour, though never do our hands quite meet. Then there is only rubble as we collapse back into reality, into the aftermath of a great cataclysm.


Through the deliberate construction of its narrative, Inquisition does not fully contextualise its opening scene until midway through the game. Our character is defined by a personal discontinuity, a rupture in their memory and their connection to the past. As far as others know, we have fallen out of the Fade, guided by the luminous hands of Andraste (Dragon Age’s messianic figure) herself. Though we know not how we came to be there, we are at once thrown into a world faced with a crisis of meaning, a crisis of which our character forms a singular locus.
The Inquisitor Tarot Cards — Dragon Age: Inquisition
Following our flight from fear, we awaken in a cell, our hands bound and a curious light intermittently emanating from our left palm. It is within this cell that we meet Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast and Sister Leliana, the respective right and left hands of the Divine. No greeting is offered, only the words “Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you know”. At once, an account is demanded, and the price of failure is the loss of one’s life. Yet we have be severed from our past, left with fragments of our passage through a realm of dreams and spirits. We have no answers to give.
Continue reading here on my Medium account.

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