Dragon Age: Absolution review: "A delightful bridge to what comes next"

Dragon Age: Absolution animated series leads look on with curiosity
(Image: © Netflix/BioWare)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Dragon Age's customary dark fantasy mixes well with animation from Red Dog Culture House and some standout performances, but ultimately this remains a spinoff - for good and bad.

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For the long-starved Dragon Age fan, anything at all connected to that franchise is a welcome balm, but it helps that the new Netflix animated series Dragon Age: Absolution is actually quite good. Showrunner Mairghread Scott clearly cares for the source material, and animation studio Red Dog Culture House brings the fire – sometimes literally – when needed.

And for anyone not already familiar with the franchise, following along on the journey of elven mercenary and former slave Miriam (voiced expertly by Kimberly Brooks) as she’s recruited to help perform a heist with high stakes deep into the heart of Tevinter? With disastrous results that turn their collective crime into a bloody battle for survival? That’s the pure kind of dark fantasy for which the games are known.

Two Tevinter characters from Dragon Age: Absolution look ready for battle in a dim environment

(Image credit: Netflix/BioWare)

Dragon Age: Absolution picks up the timeline seemingly after the Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC, putting it squarely between that game and the upcoming one, Dragon Age: Dreadwolf. That alone will make it worth the watch for many, though don’t expect it to answer any of your burning questions about the canon situation after the upheaval of Inquisition. It does, however, include several nods at the overall lore – and some returning characters, one of which players will have likely thought they’d seen the last of.

Helpfully, the show doesn’t overstay its welcome. At six episodes of just 30 minutes each, arguably it actually isn’t long enough. The games can clock in at 40 to 60 hours or more, and trying to tell a self-contained story featuring unexpected betrayal, blood magic, romance, thrilling capers, and expected betrayal over the course of just three instead, while still capturing the essence of Dragon Age, feels like it shouldn't work. And yet, here we are. Dragon Age: Absolution works, and hopefully sets the stage for many further adaptations down the line.

Two characters from Dragon Age: Absolution share an embrace in a wooded location

(Image credit: Netflix/BioWare)

The show is by no means perfect, but few animated adaptations ever are. Well, aside from Qwydion the Qunari mage that Ashly Burch voices, that is, who never fails to make any scene she is in pop. Productions of this kind with oversight from an IP holder are naturally constrained, and animation in general is often created under a series of compromises from the jump. With every single movement requiring multiple steps in the creative process – not to mention whatever specific involvement Netflix and BioWare might have had directly or indirectly – it’s a wonder anything is ever made at all. In that sense, Dragon Age: Absolution is a wonder. It makes for a delightful, brief bridge to what comes next for the Dragon Age franchise.

All six episodes of Dragon Age: Absolution are available on Netflix as of December 9. You can also check out more new movies and shows coming to Netflix this month.

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Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse, ComicBook.com, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.