It took a long time for 2014 to find its’ Game of the Year, but once it found it? Wow, did it find it. It should come as no surprise that the game we’ve given this honorable title to has already received it many times before, has been greeted with fairly universal critical acclaim and will, I’m sure, soon have a giant statue erected in its honor, just because it’s that good. It is, of course, Dragon Age: Inquisition: the game with seemingly endless lore, a huge expansive world, dynamic gameplay, majestic dragons, a cast of companions that judged your every decision and kept you on your toes, and most importantly, feelings. It’s rare to find a game like this that delivers on all fronts, combining a huge world to explore with a cast of multifaceted characters that come with their individual quirks and stories, with no two characters feeling too similar. Even the background characters feel like they have their own lives and are facing their own struggles as you continue on your quest, with the world of Thedas feeling like it exists and develops beyond what you experience and encounter during your time with the game.
This game could easily have been too ambitious, too hyped-up and too much like the previous games in the series, but to me it didn’t feel like any of those things. It took what the first two games had to offer and built on the best parts of both of them, then amplified the result to make a game that was bigger than expected, even with all the hype surrounding it. The soundtrack was stunning, the graphics were stunning, everything was stunning, and when the only criticism you can really think of for a game is that maybe it’s too big and too rich and too detailed, then I’d say it must be pretty good on the whole. Honestly, I could wax lyrical about Dragon Age all day, but what it all comes down to is the fact that for me, this was the only must-play title of the year. It ticked all the boxes, felt diverse and inclusive, and offered one of the best stories I’ve played in a long time.
The fact that they nailed the storytelling aspect would alone be commendable, but to then combine that with a visually stunning world and gameplay that actually feels like it works truly puts DA: I a cut above the rest of the offerings of 2014. When you can put over a hundred hours into something and still feel like you’ve only scratched the surface, the developers are definitely doing something right. My fellow writers have to take my word (and the words of a bunch of other critics, really) for it when I say that this deserves the award for Game of the Year. But really, nothing else comes close, and I honestly believe that this was the easiest Game of the Year decision I’ll ever make.