Review: Dragon Age: Absolution is a six-episode anime series on Netflix produced by Korean animation studio Red Dog Culture House in conjunction with game developer BioWare. Set in the Dragon Age universe post-Inquisition and prior to the upcoming Dreadwolf game, the adventure takes place amidst the grandeur of the Tevinter Imperium, where our core cast of thieves attempt to steal a powerful magical artifact called the Circulum Infinitus.
The show primarily focuses on Miriam, an Elven rogue and former Tevinter slave, with the story revealing the unusual circumstances of her escape alongside the action of the heist at hand. By the conclusion of the first episode, our party is thrust together, consisting of Miriam, along with ex-lover Hira, best friend Roland, and the bank-rolling Fairbanks, as well as the Qunari mage Qwydion and Dwarven warrior Lacklon — who are just kind of there.
Getting straight to the point and jumping immediately into the adventure keeps the show moving along at the breakneck speed that its six-episode length demands, but it left me wanting more from our intriguing characters. The most iconic aspect of all Dragon Age games are their deeply compelling characters — well-rounded individuals who claw at your heart and mind far beyond the time you see them on the screen.
Absolution gives us the briefest glimpse of people I want to know more about but never get the chance to understand or even really meet due to the tight time constraints of each episode. It’s a real shame, because Qwydion is an absolute standout during her fleeting moments in the spotlight. I wished that the show had been afforded the opportunity to make extra episodes where we could just sit with these characters and realize them more fully. Still, it’s a testament to the show’s quality how much I want more of these characters despite seeing so little of them individually.
The overarching plot rapidly speeds towards its conclusion but never feels particularly rushed. Every key moment has time to breathe while exploring the pain of Miriam’s past in a way that paints her and the villains in a complex light. The voice acting also exudes quality and charisma that enriches the characters beyond the brief material they receive.
Given the failed heist setting, there is plenty of action to keep you engaged. Each of the fight sequences is intricately choreographed, offering impressive visuals that maintain a sense of fantasy that never oversteps the line into the gory. In addition, the effects are highly detailed, elevating these sequences even further to make the combat a highlight of this series.
For Dragon Age fans, there are many references to the franchise to send us down our lore rabbit holes, with plenty of canon confirmations, Tevinter insights, and a surprise reveal at the end making Absolution completely worth the time investment in my own fanatic opinion. For those unfamiliar with the series, this is still an accessible piece of television that tells an interesting enough story outside of the context of the mainline games. However, a knowledge of the series greatly enhances the viewing experience and the many gestures it makes back to its source material.
Even in its short run, there are lots of twists and turns that came as genuine surprises to me and endeared me to Miriam through the heartbreak of her tale. But ultimately, that brief length of just six episodes of 25 minutes each handicaps Dragon Age: Absolution from reaching the full storytelling potential that any Dragon Age ensemble deserves. That said, as a long-time lover of the franchise, I still found plenty to enjoy here and would happily recommend Absolution as a comfy weekend watch. I just wish there were more of it to scratch that itch while I wait for Dreadwolf to consume my life. So here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this crew and their adventures, because the foundation has been laid here for something that could be really great.
Dragon Age: Absolution is out now on Netflix.