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Dragon Age: Origins, "The Darkspawn Chronicles" | game DLC review

Bring the world to its knees...

 

Story summary: See what might have happened if the Warden had died during the Joining ceremony, and the assembled forces marched under Alistair's command instead. (Dragon Age Wiki)


No need for a 'Previously...' link here with it being an entirely separate adventure to the base game and acting as an equivalent to Marvel's What If...? stories. I was planning on waiting to include this in a post with something else, but with a lot of new movies coming out I want to see, plus the larger number of games I'm getting through thanks to Game Pass, holding off on this was just delaying the eventual Dragon Age: Origins review post.


In this alternate reality take on the game, you control a Hurlock vanguard and carry out the Archdemon's plans to conquer Ferelden, taking on many of the characters and forces who fought alongside the Hero of Ferelden in the base game. It's a very short story, because just trampling over everything on your way to victory isn't overly-interesting and that goes double for when you're controlling an essentially mindless being just following the orders of their master.


As a result, you do skip through the events of the base game in pretty short order, which I think is the best way to do it just so you can get as varied an experience as possible without the developers making you play the game again. That 'shallow' approach of just dipping you into the world enough to appreciate the major differences works to an extent, but this DLC also really doesn't feel like a Dragon Age game.


What makes Dragon Age (and Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, and more) such memorable experiences are the characters - especially your party members - who you meet along the way, getting to know them and forming attachments to them. When you're playing as just one of a seemingly limitless horde, that's not really an option.


You can 'recruit' other Darkspawn as you go, but they're little more than cannon fodder to be thrown at whoever's blocking your path. Each type of minion has their own unique abilities, so you can grow used to one and be annoyed when they die - doubly so when it's clearly scripted to happen and beyond your control - but it's their usefulness that you'll miss and not the creature themselves.


This does mean that despite its rather short length and frenetic pace, "The Darkspawn Chronicles" does still start to wear a little thin by the end thanks to that lack of characterisation. It's a fun little side adventure and enjoyable to spot how the world changed compared to the base game, but lacking so much depth makes for a pretty limited experience that arguably should've been even shorter than it already is.

[6/10 - Decent]

 

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