Last month I reviewed the Leliana’s Song DLC and the month before that I reviewed the Darkspawn Chronicles DLC, with each one representing very different types of gaming experiences within the context of the Dragon Age universe: one was combat driven and narrow, and the other was a character study that got us behind the scenes with one of the main characters from the main game. I also noted that a high-level combat-centric module Golems of Amgarrak was arriving. Now that I have completed playing through the newest DLC (and with only a week before the final DLC release) I am ready to render my verdict on the Golems of Amgarrak. Read on and find out how it went!
Delve deep underground to save a missing dwarven expedition in search of ancient secrets for creating monstrous constructs. Only you can uncover the gruesome fate that befell them.
Put your Warden back in action and adventure through new environments, meet new characters and defeat never before seen creatures. With an engrossing new storyline and challenging puzzles this is one add-on you don’t want to miss!
* Import your character from Origins or Awakening or create a new, high-level hero!
* Face an all-new terrifying creature
* Earn powerful rewards that transfer into your Awakening and Origins campaign
* An advanced challenge for even the most experienced adventurers
The promise of this module is pretty terrific: you get to play as the character you made in the original Dragon Age game, taking them into an all-new environment with new characters to meet and high-level combat to challenge even experienced fans of the game!
The reality, as they say, seldom lives up to the promise. But before I talk about what went wrong, let me talk about what went right.
With each passing DLC module, you can see the designers maturing. Everything looks better, sounds better, has more polish, and just overall flows better. I really can’t wait for Witch Hunt based on how technically excellent Golems of Amgarrak was – they really nailed the technical execution.
The core promise of Golems of Amgarrak was high level combat using your imported Warden. After some introductory battles in the prelude area, you enter a room in the main area and have to deal with several high level golems all at once! They vary tactics, they work together … and they take a serious amount of damage – and dish out more. I didn’t make it through the first time – but boy did I enjoy falling in such a spectacular battle!
And in that regard the module really delivers! The same sort of combat strategies you’ve been using since the original game are needed here, but when facing such a variety of high-level opponents simultaneously you really need to unleash all of your might, lock in as many passive and sustained buffs as you can manage, position everyone correctly with proper tactics, and let loose!
Capping off the combat is a terrific epic final battle. I had mentioned that the lack of combat focus in Leliana’s Song extended to a rather anti-climatic final confrontation. That is definitely not the case here! You will be challenged to keep your party alive during the final conflict with a very challenging enemy who can spawn other high level enemies! It is a frenetic, exhausting affair that ends the game on the right note.
I also really liked the design of the entire area. There were dwarven elements mixed with more ancient stuff that the original party had uncovered, a mix of magical energy and ‘modern’ (in the fantasy sense) technology. There are also some puzzles to deal with – nothing challenging, but it is nice to have to do some amount of thinking in a combat-centric module.
In the same vein, the character you meet – Jerrik – is described well enough to serve the purposes of the module, but he and his brother Brogan (and to an extent the researcher Darian) are the only characters you meet. Pretty much all exchanges are with Jerrik, and it is even more narrow than you might suspect, as per his request you needed to come alone. That means that none of your former friends come along.
Well, I guess I have sort of drifted into the negative stuff about Golems of Amgarrak. As I said, there isn’t much in terms of interaction – you have to come alone, and you really only talk to one person, and your choices are few and with little significance. So while it is cool that you can import your Warden from the main game … who cares? I mean, there is a greater challenge starting with a bare-bones level 20 character than the one you took all the way through the main game and add-ons.
Also, the game is based around a cool magical energy flow which when manipulated can actually cause people to phase out to a different plane. It is a great concept and there are some interesting research notes you discover that help you learn what is going on. However, the developers used this as a way to wring out more gameplay from a smaller area: every single room gets reused in each plane, meaning there are chests, doors, and enemies that shift based on the energy fields in play.
My final complaint is that I was able to complete the entire module twice in less than two hours of play time, and my imported Warden made it through in 45 minutes and only fell in combat once. Even with the great epic battle I mentioned before it is all over very quickly. I cannot imagine what folks would have said if any of the Premium Modules for Neverwinter Nights had lasted less than an hour!
I know that $5 for one hour of DLC has become more of less a standard, but I still feel this DLC is a poor value. That is because the game is dreadfully short DESPITE using two common ‘game lengthening’ devices: area-repurposing and an epic multi-stage final battle. So while there is much to like with Golems of Amgarrak, I cannot recommend it for anyone to buy unless you are truly desperate for a quick high-level dungeon romp.
On September 7th we get the final Dragon Age DLC, Witch Hunt. From what I am reading it is supposed to be challenging, have narrative substance and involve your Warden in a real way. Up to now the various DLC modules have had some elements of each of those things but seldom combined them all. After that DLC is released, there are already rumors of an ‘ultimate edition’ release, at which point we should be able to get some better deals on bundles of DLC. My advice it to wait for THAT time to play Golems of Amgarrak, unless you really need a fix now, in which case consider yourself warned that it is a poor value.
Review: Dragon Age: Origins Golems of Amgarrak DLC
Where to Buy: Bioware.com
Price: $5.00 (560 Microsoft Points)
What I Like: Top notch high-level combat; Solid story; Decent characters; Get to use my Warden again
What Needs Improvement: 45 minutes? Really?; Not enough variety of enemies; Half the length is from battling the same rooms in two different ‘phases'; Never really cared that I was playing my old imported Warden … nor about any other character!; Did I mention it was only 45 minutes?
Source: Personal purchase