‘Dragon Age: Absolution’ Review: Netflix Has Cracked the Formula for Video Game Adaptations

Dragon Age Absolution
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For decades, video games have been on a journey to become the most successful branch of entertainment. The video game industry makes more money than movies, TV, and books, and it keeps growing each year thanks to new technologies and the ever-increasing creativity of game developers. However, video games, their characters, and their stories have been having a hard time jumping into other mediums. Netflix seems to have cracked the code, though, and now it is getting ready to bring another one into the fold in the form of Dragon Age: Absolution.

Dragon Age: Absolution is an animated TV series produced by Red Dog Culture House, an animation house that has also worked on projects such as The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and The Seven Deadly Sins. Ki-Yong Bae serves as director, and Mairghread Scott serves as the showrunner of the project. The series is an original story set in the world of Dragon Age, a video game franchise developed by BioWare, one of the most famous developers in the world when it comes to making fantasy role-playing games.

DA Absolution 2

Castlevania, and Arcane have become huge successes for Netflix. They brought with them an already-built fan base that was eager to watch their favorite characters do cool stuff. They also brought a ton of new people into their respective universes thanks to the massive reach of Netflix as a platform. We could say that the Castlevania and League of Legends universes are now more popular than they have ever been, and with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, recently managing to basically resurrect the game it was based on, it seems like a no-brainer to put these adaptations on Netflix.

What really ended up hurting most of the video game adaptations in the past was the need to do them in live-action. Video games allow for all kinds of worlds to be invented and inhabited by characters of all kinds. But just like with animation, jumping from a medium that can be as stylized as it wants to live-action, where those elements can feel tacky and even just plain bad, has been a huge detriment. Animation doesn’t have that problem. Characters that feel fantastic can still feel like such in an animated show without having to look and feel like watered-down versions of the originals.

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The same goes for the world’s video games that have been created to tell their stories. Dragon Age, just like Castlevania and Cyberpunk before it, has successfully managed to turn its setting into a place that looks amazing in animation. Red Dog proved very recently with Nightmare of the Wolf that they are able to do fantasy the right way. Dragon Age is less dark than The Witcher universe, but not less dangerous for it. The translation and adaptation between mediums have been very successful.

Dragon Age: Absolution also has the advantage of being an original story. Yes, the series uses many of the places, concepts, and events that have been used in the games but only as a backdrop for the story of a new set of characters with personalities and motivations of their own. This is great because not even the most hardcore of fans will be angry when the characters from the games are used in different ways. There are a couple of characters from the games in here, but their participation is small. Maybe they will get more screen time in a second season.

dragon age anime cast

The original set of characters is led by Miriam, an elf who has been a slave most of his life. Now, Miriam is recruited by a group of thieves to perform a heist against one of the most powerful magicians in the land. Heist stories are always great when it comes to joining a number of different characters and making them work toward a single purpose. Dragon Age: Absolution takes advantage of the setup and introduces our protagonist group in the most excellent manner.

The character development throughout the season is truly outstanding, and characters that feel annoying at first might win you over toward the end. This is a great success, especially taking into account that the show is just six episodes long. We are talking about six episodes under 30 minutes long, and yet, the entire season manages to tell quite an action-packed and interesting story. The season also has the time to set up bigger and more interesting stakes for a second season that we hope comes sooner rather than later.

In terms of visuals, the show is just fantastic. Ki-Yong Bae was the animation director for The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, and he did a great job there, and he is doing the same here now. The action choreography is beautiful to look at, and it has an intensity and fluidity that just can’t be achieved in live action. When it comes to the magic and its users, the show excels at making these characters look like truly dangerous machines of war. When a magician comes to the stage, you better watch out.

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Dragon Age: Absolution feels like a very solid foundation for more stories set in this fantasy world. The show sets up a second season in such a way that it is hard not to be excited for what is to come. This season reminds us very much of the first season of Castlevania, and we know how amazing that show ended up being in the end. We can only hope that Netflix allows Dragon Age: Absolution to do the same thing for them. This universe and this show deserve the chance to tell the story they want to tell in its entirety.

SCORE: 8/10

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