It’s the final week of January, a brand new year, and the perfect time to give you all my end of the month progress report with my ongoing video game challenge. Just a warning to my readers, this post will contain some spoilers about the main story mission Here Lies the Abyss. If you want to avoid them, then please come back and read this after you’ve completed this mission.
Last month, I decided to push the story forward by playing another main story mission from Inquisition. This mission involved investigating the mysterious disappearance of Grey Wardens all around Thedas. Varric tells your Inquisitor he has a friend who has a lead about the Grey Wardens, but is a little secretive about who his mystery friend is. Varric arranges a private meeting between your Inquisitor and this friend at Skyhold. When you meet Varric and his friend at the designated area, his mystery friend is revealed to be none other than the Champion of Kirkwall Hawke!
You are given the option to customize your Hawke to look exactly how you’ve made him/her when you played Dragon Age 2. I personally want my playthrough and story canon for my characters to be consistent with how I’ve experienced all games. This required me to go back and reload a previous save file of Dragon Age 2 to jog my memory about specific features I made for my female mage Hawke. I managed to recreate an almost exact replica of her. I say almost because the only thing I couldn’t recreate exactly were her face tattoos. Yes, my Hawke was a little bit of the rebel in the family but with a good heart. It annoyed me that I couldn’t copy the tattoo I gave her in Dragon Age 2. Oddly enough, Inquisition doesn’t really offer the same tattoos they offered from the previous game. I really don’t understand that at all. Instead, I opted for a face tattoo that was close enough but not really great. The only way I could explain the difference in face tattoos my Hawke had was imagining she got bored one day, used her magical abilities, and decided to change them with a snap of her fingers. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Hawke’s information about the Grey Wardens eventually leads you to a Grey Warden contact they have. I eventually found out through the power of the Internet that if you kept Alistair as a Grey Warden in Dragon Age: Origins, he will be one of three possible contacts Hawke has. Based on my previous decisions in Origins and Dragon Age 2, I got Grey Warden Stroud who becomes a party member for this mission along with Hawke. Doing further digging into who Stroud was in the Dragon Age universe, it turns out I’ve met him before and he has already been acquainted with Hawke long before the events in Inquisition. Stroud has made an appearance during a quest in Dragon Age 2, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the guy at all. This is probably why doing a back-to-back run of all three Dragon Age games would be in order to remember every character who has ever appeared in the games. You never know who will show up again in a future installment of the series! Minor characters somehow become important much later.
Since I made Alistair king in my original playthrough of Origins, it meant I had no additional Alistair time in Here Lies the Abyss. From what I’ve discovered through YouTube videos, you do get a lot of time with Alistair during this mission. Alistair as king in Inquisition only shows up for one very brief appearance and you never see him again. It almost makes me wish I kept him as a Grey Warden just so I can relive my time with Alistair as a party member again. Those were good times.
When your Inquisitor, your companions of choice, Hawke, and the Grey Warden travel to the area where the missing Grey Wardens have been congregating, the cause for the disappearance of the Grey Wardens is revealed to be just another manipulation by Corypheus. Somehow, the general of Corypheus’ demon army, known only as “Nightmare,” is able to fake the Calling all Grey Wardens hear when they know it’s their time to go to the Deep Roads and die. In the world of Dragon Age, being a Grey Warden isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when the taint eventually kills Grey Wardens in time. With the Grey Wardens following this fake Calling, many of them end up sacrificing their lives needlessly and prematurely. Eventually, the battle to put a stop to Corypheus’ nefarious plans leads to a near death fatal fall from a crumbling bridge until your Inquisitor manages to save themselves and everyone else by using the mark on their hand and sending everyone into the Fade.
The rest of the quest takes place in the Fade and it uncovers more truths about what happened the day the Temple of Sacred Ashes exploded, how your Inquisitor really got the mysterious glowing mark on their hand, and how the Inquisitor managed to survive the explosion when everyone else perished. What’s interesting about this quest is not just what you find out about the story of your Inquisitor, but how walking through the Fade, you hear Nightmare taunting each member of your party with their biggest fears and insecurities. I definitely enjoyed the nods and references to a few of the choices I made for my Hawke in Dragon Age 2. It makes my current playthrough of this game really personal.
Of course, no mission is ever complete without a boss fight and a difficult decision making moment. The boss fight itself wasn’t all that difficult to get through. Most of it involves exploiting the enemy’s weakest points and making sure your party’s health is kept up. When everyone thinks they’re in the clear, a huge spider demon appears to block everyone’s exit out of the Fade. The only way to ensure almost everyone gets out of the Fade is to have someone stay behind and distract the spider demon. This is the moment Hawke and the Grey Warden make you choose who must stay behind in the Fade. Whoever stays behind obviously won’t be making a return trip back into the living. Both Hawke and the Grey Warden argue their case of why they themselves are the best candidate to stay behind, while the other one leaves with your party and Inquisitor. Each person presents their argument to help you decide who is most vital to coming back with you. As much as I loved my Hawke, I chose her as the one to stay behind. I based my decision on everything I’ve learned from this mission and what was best for the Grey Warden order. Hawke isn’t really as important as having a much stronger Grey Warden, who isn’t easily corrupted by Corypheus, to lead the now broken and lost Grey Warden order to make amends for past mistakes and restore the order to their true purpose.
With my Hawke making a valiant heroine’s sacrifice, my Inquisitor and everyone who remained made it out of the Fade. By choosing Hawke to stay behind, it does result in Varric’s massive disapproval of your decision. It was really tough to watch Varric become silent and devastated over losing a really great friend. The cutscene at Skyhold, when I talked to Varric about what happened during the mission, gave you the option to hug Varric as he grieves over the loss of his friend. The game has plenty of great moments and it’s really hard to pick a favorite the more I keep playing Inquisition. The hugging scene effected me greatly as I also mourned the loss of my Hawke.
After finishing Here Lies the Abyss, I’ve officially stopped playing anymore main story missions for the time being. I’ve just about reached the mid-way point in the game with the main story and it really won’t be long before I actually finish the whole story. I’m patiently taking my time with the game and leveling up my Inquisitor and party as I go along. I’ve been working my way through finishing Inner Circle quests (ones that aren’t glitched like Cole’s amulet quest) and finishing more side missions.
Just before I went on vacation a few weeks ago and after I came back, I’ve been currently exploring and going through most of the side quests in the Emprise du Lion region. It is quite big and has plenty of Inner Circle quests to complete along with the side missions for that area. What impresses me most about Inquisition is how each area you visit is completely different, each place as breathtakingly beautiful as it is deadly. It kind of feels like taking a vacation in a different locale, each one never looking exactly the same like the place you visited before. Although, it’s hard for my own Inquisitor to think about taking a vacation when she has a world to save. I’m lucky I can take a vacation without having the kind of trouble she has to think about every damn day of her life until Corypheus and the Breach has been taken cared of once and for all.
As February approaches and seeing as how the places and side missions I have left to explore and do is starting to get smaller and smaller, I’m actually optimistic that I may have this game completed by March. As long as I keep playing a little bit each weeknight and carving a day to marathon the game on the weekend, it might actually be a realistic goal. We’ll just have to wait and see if my prediction turns out to be true.