A Woman Unseen
The Will of the Maker
The Serpent’s Coils
Those Who Falsely Dream
An Altar of Fire
The Price of Salvation
Dragon Age has always been known for its interesting dialogue and worldbuilding. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find much of that here. Dragon Age: Absolution is essentially a cookie cutter fantasy story pasted over Dragon Age lore, with a motley band of misfits off on the quest for a MacGuffin and to save a damsel in distress. It’s a plot device we’ve seen a myriad of times across the years and Absolution doesn’t really do anything to stand out from others in this field. And that’s a problem.
Arcane showed last year that videogame adaptations can be great, managing to be both accessible for newcomers while welcoming to long time fans of League of Legends. Dragon Age: Absolution however, leans into pleasing the fans and while that in itself is fine, it’s also likely to be alienating for general audiences.
With only 6 episodes to play with, Absolution is plagued with absolutely frenetic pacing, leaving little time to subtly develop its characters. Instead, each of the players here either have a very simple arc (like Miriam) or feel like one-dimensional players used as set pieces to drive the narrative forward.
Miriam is another point of contention and she doesn’t exactly make a great first impression. She’s strong, quick, seemingly unbeatable and willingly sacrifices 3 of her own kin in order to steal some lyrium. She’s positively affirmed by those around her and is actually a bit of a hypocrite.
As the episodes progress she does soften a little and you understand why she is the way she is, but out of all the characters that Absolution introduces, she is by far the worst. And she’s the main character. Toxic, unlikable female protagonists in fantasy is a nasty trope that’s seeped into TV this year – Rings of Power and Willow to name a few – and unfortunately Absolution follows that same trend.
Thankfully the show does win some brownie points for the animation which is great all round and there’s some really nice set pieces and action across the 6 episodes. Episode 3 in particular sees each of the group show off their skills against hordes of the undead and it’s a nice way of exuding exposition about their powers without outright explaining it.
The soundtrack is also pretty good and the voice acting’s not half bad either, which is a bonus. Fans of Dragon Age are likely to get more out of this but those after intricate worldbuilding, layers of nuance and a deeper understanding of racial issues in this fantasy world are likely to be left disappointed.
Absolution isn’t a bad show but it’s not exactly a good one either. This is generic fantasy fare 101, with the added bonus of one-dimensional characters crying out for more development. The new Arcane this most certainly is not.
Verdict - 5/10