Absolution gets the memo of what makes BioWare games great

Since the release of the Baldur’s Gate in 1998, video game developer BioWare (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect) has garnered its fair share of accolades for its complex gameplay. However, the studio’s secret sauce to success has always been in its commitment to characterization, not its combat mechanics. BioWare specializes in the classic RPG (role-playing game) format that allows the player to decide between different story outcomes and form deep bonds with a rich tapestry of intricacies that support the character. More often than not, developing deep friendships is the only way to survive the final conflict; just ask Mass Effect 2 players. As such, the guarantee for any BioWare property has been their elevation of the “found family” trope through fifty to one hundred hours of immersive storytelling, and the Netflix spin-off of their award-winning dragon age franchise, Dragon Age: Absolutionunderstand the mission. Absolution nails the traditional BioWare formula thanks to a dynamically entertaining cast of characters and clever execution throughout – but at three hours, not hundreds.

Like other high-fantasy franchises, Absolution takes place in the world of Thedas, a unique continent inhabited by various cities and all the overlapping dynamics associated with humanoids: politics, religion, military, magical sects and governing bodies of government. While this Netflix entry features new characters, it likely serves as a “side quest” bridge between the previous game, Dragon Age: Inquisitionand its long-awaited sequel, Dreadwolf. The deceptive plot seems straightforward from the start, with the elven protagonist Miriam (Kimberly Brooks, Mass Effect, Voltron: Legendary Defender) and his human friend, Roland (Phil LaMarr, Justice League, Samurai Jack) participating in a heist to steal a magical artifact called the Circulum from Tevinter, a city ruled by an oligarchy of Magisters, most of whom aren’t the best people in the world. Tevinter openly practices slavery, for example, and it is this very caste system that Miriam escaped from years ago.

CONNECTION: “Dragon Age: Absolution” ending explained: what are the links to “Dreadwolf”?

The original characters are the strongest element of the show

The hallmark of the RPG experience is the closeness of carefully creating your own character and your choices determining the narrative path. It’s an element understandably lost in the video game to scripted series translation, but as Miriam’s tragic backstory unfolds elegantly and electrifyingly, and AbsolutionThe characters show a fresh relationship, the difference barely registers. Joining Miriam and Roland on their mission is the heist boss, Fairbanks (Matthew Mercer, critical roleThe Dungeon Master of great renown), the eccentric mage Qwydion (Ashly Burch, Horizon Zero Dawn), Hira, Miriam’s ex-boyfriend (Sumale Montano, Star Wars: Resistance) and Lacklon (Keston Jean, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power), with a shimmering “ruddy against the sun” dynamic with a cheeky Roland.

Immediate cast chemistry is needed Absolutionis ruthlessly effective. For six thirty-minute episodes, most of the emotional weight lies in the ongoing relationships between several characters. Miriam and Roland were best friends and probably acted as a team for a while, while Miriam and Hira went their separate ways on unfriendly terms and still long for each other. Roland and Lacklon have romantic tension at the root of their constant banter, and Hira and Fairbanks make the team. Only Qwydion is left, so his character is the brightest star of the bunch. The combination of unbridled fun, snark, and nerdery could sell a show on its own.

The characters and their growing friendships have real depth

But after the team engages in an initial repartee, audiences need a deeper connection to preserve their intertwined fates. Absolution they are distributed at important moments. At first, after a human Tevinter belittles Miriam with an insult and provokes the group into a bar fight that they win, Miriam resents the others for celebrating their hollow victory. In his eyes, they were doing nothing more meaningful than beating up some jerks. But the act still gets to his heart, and he returns the favor by playing a key role in the heist despite the traumatic memories associated with returning to Tevinter, the place of his abusive upbringing. “Even you [stood up for me] in the stupidest way possible,” he said, “that means something.”

Miriam’s tragic past also unites the group without the meaning of a story victimized by female illness. Through a series of twists, Absolution reveals his hand that the opponent is Miriam’s former “owner” Rezaren (Josh Keaton, Voltron). Rezaren is a magistrate obsessed with both the power of the Circulum and Miriam, whom he considers his long-lost sister. The entire group witnesses the effects of Miriam’s past and present trauma and comes to care for her, but this is born out of friendship, not pity. Once they have stolen the Circulum, each member must decide whether to prioritize helping their comrade in arms over fulfilling their financial commission. Qwydion laid a hand on Miriam’s shoulder and said, “It was the right thing to do,” though earlier she had wondered why she had chosen so selflessly to protect some helpless elf. Roland values ​​Miriam’s loyalty as a friend enough to risk his life and Lacklon pretends not to care, but it’s obvious he does beneath his gruff exterior.

In the midst of this, the flashback of Miriam and Hira as a happy couple combined with their current devotion to each other is more than enough to ensure their survival. Not to mention the lingering stares and sardonic teasing of Roland and Lacklon. Two homosexual couples in a fantastical setting? A sure win!

The unlikely found family is a timeless trope

A story of thugs coming together is also of a timeless quality. Look at the continued popularity of guardian of the galaxy and the influx of new Prime Video fans The Legend of Vox Machina increased to Critical role. It’s a trope that’s hard to argue with: comedy naturally emerges from the situation, and mini-redemption arcs are always satisfying. Tropes are not synonymous with generic writing, and Absolution understand the spirit of BioWare’s appeal and how to transfer what makes it into a scripted version.

Despite the dizzying pace of the plot, Absolution gives each individual a chance to shine as well as a window for existing relationships to grow and new efforts to be solidified. The power of friendship is on full display for the final battle as the chaotic group of misfits who came together for money emerge in a united front; they are now a group of adventurers ready to face their next antagonist. No doubt and no surprises the familiar condensed journey to dragon age players are made to exquisite perfection by sharp moments of character growth.

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