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Theme/plot discussion of DAI

Butch:

Ok, so here’s a takeaway:

So it appears that the Andraseans are wrong: I was not hand chosen by Andraste, she did not lead me out of the fade, that thing did.

But….it also appears the ones who poo poo the Inquisition and say “she’s nothing, nothing happened” are also wrong: That spirit was something, it just wasn’t what the “church” says it was.

Which is a neat thing. In life, often our “debates” are very bipolar: Either the God in the Bible put man and the animals on earth, or Darwin and atheistic science are right. There’s no “Well, maybe the church is wrong, and it didn’t happen like the book says, but there’s something else that’s spiritual.” It’s either the establishment religious word or it’s no god at all. This game seems to be challenging that. (But I’m not done, no spoilers)

Indeed, so many people in this game are soul searching in themselves. Pretty much every NPC. Which is why I think the game is called “Inquisition.” That word comes from “Inquire,” after all. Indeed the one NPC that hasn’t “joined the inquisition” is Varric, who seems to be the one that ISN’T soul searching. He’s pretty set in what he believes. Or so it seems. He’s not inquiring. Yet.

Feminina:

Yes, I did find that interesting. They’re not going to clarify that yes, Andraste and the Maker are totally real and up there in the Maker’s City right now…we still don’t know that. But we also don’t know that they’re not. It’s also interesting that as you talk to people about it, you get all the possible arguments…maybe Andraste and the Maker set it up so you would be saved, even if it wasn’t Andraste IN PERSON who saved you, so it’s still true that you’re the Chosen one!

Or maybe the whole thing is a crock and it was just some random spirit in the fade messing with you. Or maybe it really was Divine Justinia (presumably working for Andraste!). So even though we found out what happened, in the strict sense, no true believers on either side are going to really be swayed.

My character, having been in the middle of the argument the whole time, stayed in the middle. Look, I don’t know if Andraste was involved. I didn’t see her, but if you want to believe it, I don’t know for sure she wasn’t, and I need your support for this important quest that I DO know is a problem, so…yeah. Andraste, not Andraste, whatever you want to think about it I’ll look sympathetic.

Politics and religion are always tangled up, and my Inquisitor was all about getting the job done and not worrying about the religion that much. They did a good job of making sure it kept being a question, though.

Butch:

Indeed. And I get the sense that the question is there to be themey, not just to keep options open for sequels, though maybe I’m just being overly analytical. NO SPOILERS!

Certainly so about the true believers not being movable. Indeed, after you get out of the fade the wardens are all looking to you, saying “You ARE the chosen,” and you can say “Yes!” or “Let them think whatever if it works” or “I want to tell the truth,” which is what I did, and they didn’t care. They stayed all “Yeah, whatever, I don’t care if you, the chosen one, say you’re not, you ARE!”

There have been some retellings of the Bible that imagine a Jesus who pretty much wants to be left alone, who tells people he isn’t what they think he is and no one cares. Indeed, in Superstar, there’s a point where Jesus, mobbed by people who want his help, screams, frustratedly, “SAVE YOURSELVES!” Maybe the point is that the truth doesn’t matter. Inky (or Jesus, or whoever) is what the masses believe she is. If people are being saved because they believe you are the savior, well, that makes you a savior, doesn’t it? Belief makes truth, not the other way around.

See, my Inquisitor has been pretty much confused, but pretty sure this isn’t me. I mean, it was not lost on Evelyn that she was not really leading the song in the snow there. She’s been pretty consistent in saying “dudes, look, I don’t know where this came from, but Andrastae sure as fuck ain’t talking to me. I’m no more special than all y’all.”

I kept trying to tell people I wasn’t the Chosen in order to get the job done. Interesting given your trying to ignore it to get the job done.

Feminina:

I think theminess and a desire for sequel material can coexist quite comfortably here. And yeah, there are a lot of Jesus parallels with Andraste (duh), and it’s interesting how they kind of bring that to bear with the Inquisitor as well. Are you real? Are you a saint/savior/divine messenger? Are you a fake/dupe?

And you’re just there in the middle of it thinking “maybe, I guess, if that’s what it takes.” Or at least I was.

As you say, it turns out it doesn’t matter what really happened or what you say about what really happened: you’re a symbol now, and you don’t really control the meaning of your own story.

Butch:

Yeah. I thought the fact that the spirit floated all arms out in a cross position was a tad much. We get it, bioware, we do. “Dupe” is an interesting choice. Especially if you extend the metaphor.

And I’m pretty much thinking “I’m a fake. I don’t WANT to be a fake. I don’t really want any of this.”

And that sense of limited control, in a game, is very cool. Usually it’s all about control.

Feminina:

Yes, the lack of control over your own story is interesting in a game. Perhaps related to the teamwork/community themes: you can’t do this alone, and doing things with other people requires letting other people define what you’re doing. You’re special, you were chosen (by god, fate or random accident), but you alone are not enough to get the job done, and you alone don’t get to decide what your specialness mean to the people whose help you need.

Again, a strong sense of being placed in a world that doesn’t exist just in the immediate vicinity of the character.

Butch:

Which is why this continues to be a great game. Here’s hoping they trim the shard collecting and shit in whatever they do next. The best stuff here ain’t that.

Feminina:

Well, yes, for us that’s true, but for others who don’t care as much about themes, cutting the non-theme stuff could prove unsatisfactory. They’re still going to need all kinds of random questy stuff or people will complain that there’s nothing to do. You know they will.

Butch:

Will they though? People don’t complain about Mass Effect, and that doesn’t have shards. Or The Last of Us.

Feminina:

Well, if they go TLOU-style we’d have to accept a much shorter game and I’m not sure DA fans would be into that, although you’re right, it worked very well in TLOU itself.

ME had planet-scanning and dogtag-collection and other random bits that may have served shard-like purposes (i.e., non-story stuff to keep people busy). We could certainly debate whether ME had a better balance of those elements with the story, and that maybe this level of non-story mission is better…as I think you’re basically saying. So I guess overall I agree with you…I think people would complain if there was NOTHING to do that wasn’t directly related to the story (or else they’d have to be carefully sold a tight, TLOU-style narrative in advance), but I doubt that the specific action of shard-collecting would be actively mourned.

Butch:

Now I realize that there were those firefly tags in TLOU. I cared so much about them I forgot they existed. I wonder how many people DID care. Must check the trophy list.

Goes back to the “People don’t really want what they say they want.” What was the most hated thing in ME2? Scanning planets. You know what no one remembers from TLOU? Pendants.

Tomb Raider was weird in the respect that their shardy things (at least not the artifacts) WERE story. Those diaries and whatnot. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Makes finding things seem more meaningful, but then, you have to do it to get the story.

Feminina:

Ah yes, the Firefly tags. I also never really went out of my way to look for those.

I kind of liked scanning planets, though. That soothing music, and the glee of discovering a large deposit of something…I mean, it did get old and towards the end of the game I stopped doing it, but sometimes it would be just the restful change of pace I needed.

TR…yeah, some of those story-relevant things would have sucked to miss. On the other hand, they also had the GPS caches that were harder to find but really meant nothing, so they were kind of mixing it up. I feel like the significant story bits were the ones that were pretty easy to find.

Butch:

Nope. I happened upon a couple of the TLOU tags, but it was there solely for trophy purposes.

I liked scanning planets too, but we tend to be the people who like bioware shit no one else likes. See DA2.

Now THERE’S a game that was weird in that the extra shit (scanning planets) mattered to the outcome. Never got an animus fragment? Game’s gonna end the same. Never got an artifact in TR? Game’s gonna end the same. Didn’t scan planets? Companions will die and stay dead in ME3. Maybe that was the backlash.

Yup. Though TR was the one game I kept playing after “finishing” it just cuz I wanted to find the four or five journal bits I missed. (Not counting AC4, that was just to let the kids listen to shanties.)

Feminina:

Ah, shanties!

True, you did have to do a certain amount of scanning or you’d be short raw materials, which would have serious consequences. Perhaps you’re right, people wouldn’t have minded it except that it was essentially mandatory. As you say, if it’s something that has no impact on the end of the game, it’s easy to forgive. I would probably be peeved if there was something I really hated and therefore didn’t do that turned out to be critical to something at the end of the game.

Butch:

Yeah, especially as it wasn’t clear that you could skip it. Of course, I kept thinking the animus fragments were fragments of something really important but they weren’t.

Clarity. We need clarity.

Feminina:

Yeah, I really wanted the animus fragments to assemble into something interesting/useful, but no luck. At least the mosaic fragments in DAI make little pictures!

Butch:

They do? I haven’t finished one yet.

Feminina:

I didn’t finish most of them, but you can start to make out the images on a few of them once you get some pieces. Not critically important, though.

Butch:

Oh you can? I haven’t talked to that dwarf again cuz I haven’t gotten all the pieces. I’ll talk to him.

Feminina:

I think at some point he actually sticks them up on the walls around your hall. Even incomplete, they’re a nice nod to history and so forth.

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