After the excellence of Netflix’s Castlevania series, the triumph of Arcane, and even The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf being a lively indulgence, I’m willing to take it as given that the newly-announced animated series Dragon Age: Absolution will be great. Netflix has done right by animated game spinoffs so far (the Nightmare of the Wolf studio is also producing Absolution) and BioWare has a great track record for telling secondary stories in comics and novels. I’m downright destined to enjoy Absolution.
I just hope it doesn’t steal the magic of a Tevinter Imperium reveal in Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.
As most Dragon Age fans are well aware at this point, the next game is headed to the feared and fabled country we’ve yet visit in the first three games. Tevinter has been the monster under the bed for just about every other society we’ve visited in the series so far—mage-run government, slavery, dark magic pope, and all—and DA:D is going to be our first chance to see it. Or at least it was.
We aren’t getting a Dreadwolf launch this year, nor did I expect one, so it turns out that our journey up north will be preempted by Absolution. Written lore and concept art aside, Tevinter is still largely hazy in my mind and Absolution will inevitably brush away some of its mystery.
So far, this is what we’ve seen of Tevinter’s magical capitol Minrathous:
Yeah, I’ve read Tevinter Nights and the Dark Horse comics, but there’s something particularly effective about audio/visual and BioWare historically has the knack for an emotional reveal scene.
In 2009 I was totally awestruck by Dragon Age: Origins’ intense cutscene prelude to the battle of Ostagar—armies of Ferelden with flaming arrows waiting for the charge of the darkspawn hordes through the forest. Dragon Age 2 has its, uh, emotionally explosive ending scenes too. I still get all in my feelings rewatching Dragon Age: Inquisition’s journey to Skyhold scene: all mournful string instruments while the scattered Inquisition marches through the snow until those dramatic horns kick in and we see a goddamn castle, a new home, waiting in the snow-capped mountains. It genuinely still gives me goosebumps.
It’s been nearly eight years since I first watched that scene and I still have a full on Pavlovian response to that pan cam shot followed by Solas weightily declaring: “Skyhold”.
After all this time I’m fully convinced that BioWare can still play my little heart like a fiddle, and I badly want them to have the chance to do that. Even if Absolution officially takes our screens to Tevinter first, I trust BioWare will hold back some of its magic for the next game.
We know so little about Absolution right now that I admit I’m wringing my hands over effectively nothing. Hell, it could be set in the past. Well, not more than 44 years in the past or it would have been named Blessed Age: Absolution, right? We do know that Absolution is starring “an ensemble of new characters inspired by Dragon Age lore,” which I take to likely mean that they won’t be eventual side characters in Dreadwolf the way that past novels and comics set up Inquisition’s launch.
The setting, though, is only subject to so much change over the years. Even just in the teaser trailer for Absolution, we’ve seen some impressive architecture and magical vistas of the Imperium—and yes, more strings and horns, which I’m beginning to realize I’m just weak to.
Absolution premieres in December of this year and even after such a long wait, eight years since Inquisition, I’m hoping it’s just the tiniest taste of Tevinter. An appetizer more than anything. Take me to the edges of the country, to yet unmentioned cities to meet characters with conflicts that will only just brush up against the edges of the main series plot.
I’m genuinely glad that we’re getting something Dragon Age this year. I only hope that when Dreadwolf takes me to its version of Tevinter I don’t feel like I’ve already been there.