‘Dragon Age: Absolution’ Review: An Exciting Heist Of A Lifetime Finds Its Spellbinding Blaze
Dragon Age fans have been treading lightly as they’ve waited for a new game to this franchise for a while. Dragon Age: Inquisition, released 2014, left both fans and critics in awe for its extensive campaign, compelling characters, and intensive combat. Since then, fans have been left with several comic runs and a line of books set within the vast lands of Thedas while Bioware continues to develop the next addition to the games, Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.
While fans continue to anticipate the upcoming title, Bioware has teamed up with Red Dog Culture House, the studio behind The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, to provide fans with the franchise’s biggest episodic series, Dragon Age: Absolution, following Warden’s Fall and Redemption. With so much to say, Absolution is a fantastic addition to this franchise that continues to provide charmingly personal characters, fierce action pieces, and a plot that, while a bit vague, successfully satisfies that Dragon Age sensation.
Absolution follows an elven mercenary named Miriam (Kimberly Brooks) and her caper crew of mercenaries throughout their heist on the malicious Tevinter Imperium. On a mission to steal the blood-fueled Circulum Infinitus, the group must retrieve the artifact before the Imperium can unlock its secrets. This may be your run-of-the-mill heist adventure, but in return, Absolution provides so much more in its visual style and action so much as an upgrade from Warden’s Fall and Redemption.
The visual style of the show feels a lot more grandiose than what I’ve seen before. Absolution takes advantage of blending two-dimensional and CGI elements together to create a hypnotic sight to behold while meshing story beats with action pieces successfully. Speaking of, the show does a good job mixing crazy hijinks with serious, hard-hitting moments without making you feel disoriented. Absolution continues to build off of the gruesome and extreme action any Dragon Age fan wants from the games.
In addition to its visuals, Absolution includes a diverse set of charismatic characters that manage to form some great chemistry. Miriam, while an independent isolationist, grows to be incredibly sincere and courageous throughout the show and her dark past allows her to persevere against all odds. Hira (Sumalee Montano) and her selfless idealism creates a deeper relationship between both her and Miriam and the two have this genuine passion, both in their friendship and love. Both these two have their moments throughout that made me hooked to seeing them succeed even after their mission.
Both Roland (Phil LaMarr) and Lacklon (Keston John) are polar opposites: Roland’s a cunning swordsman with exquisite grace while Lacklon’s a rational, yet gruff executioner. Roland and Lacklon do a great job playing off of each other whenever the action’s happening. Outside of the action, the two are given opportunities for developing that strong friendship, but the writing slightly hinders this. The comedic effect plays off well, but the show tries to take a different direction by the end. If this show continues, then I hope the writing between these two improves.
Qwydion (Ashly Burch) honestly had to be my favorite character out of the entire group. Her bubbling personality and charismatic comedy definitely provides this show with a lot of energy and her interactions with the other members is so fun to watch. In addition, she’s got the magical fortitude, which perfectly balances her character dynamics out. Once you reach episodes 3-4, you’ll definitely understand what I mean and I really hope we’ll get to see her again in the future.
As for the villains, Rezaren (Josh Keaton) and Tassia (Zehra Fazal) of Tevinter royalty have that complexity with reasonable motivations to their cause. They are serviceable to the story and I’m glad to see that they were fleshed out in episode 2, but as the show continued, Rezaren almost became one-dimensional for me. Thankfully, Tassia slowly and surely rectifies the areas of the show where Rezaren could not and after seeing where she goes, I wonder if the show will make her a villain or an ally for our main cast.
However, there are a few more problems that holds this show back. The first two episodes, though great in their own way, feel somewhat slow when you realize where the show is going. Obviously, these episodes are meant to develop the larger story, though it feels like filler episodes even if they are the introduction. In addition, there are some twists that come out of nowhere or have a small amount of build-up to have that emotional impact. The show tries to remain subtle and mysterious with its build-up by the second half of the season, but the way these twists are played off made me want just a little bit more. Hopefully, if this show does get a second season, it can fix these narrative problems.
As a minor tick, Absolution does require a bit of Dragon Age knowledge in order to understand its story. If you skipped the trailers and went into this show head-on, you might want to catch up on the lore of the Tevinter Imperium as well as Dragon Age: Inquisition. This season is also important for fans of the games since this show is set to play a role in Dreadwolf. If you’re not caught up with the lore, the show could be a bit daunting for you to watch.
Overall, Absolution is an charming and exciting new adventure within the Dragon Age world that any fan of the franchise can enjoy. With incredible visuals, action, and its admirable cast of misfits and mercenaries, Absolution is a show that will entice you even if there are some aspects that don’t hit. Nonetheless, it continues to light the way for this expansive and ever-growing franchise.
Dragon Age: Absolution releases on December 9 on Netflix.