Last month I reviewed the Golems of Amgarrek DLC, the month before that 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, one was a character study that got us behind the scenes with one of the main characters from the main game, and the most recent one was a high-level combat-centric module. I also noted that the final DLC was coming, called Witch Hunt, which was supposed to wrap up the Morrigan story line from the original game. Now that I have completed playing through the last Dragon Age DLC (*sniff*) I am ready to render my verdict on the Witch Hunt. Read on and find out how it went!
“Never follow me.” With these words, Morrigan vanished into the shadows. Her plans and her whereabouts have remained a mystery… until now. But whether you seek answers, revenge, or reconciliation with your lost love, you may find more than you bargained for.
* Confront Morrigan in this dramatic conclusion to the Origins storyline
* Earn powerful rewards that transfer into your Awakening and Origins campaign
* Import your character from Origins or Awakening or create a new, high-level hero!
The promise of this DLC module is staggering: story that ties back into some of the key elements of the original game, answers about characters that wrap up the original game and lead into the new game, and a high level module that will present challenges to characters who have already finished the main game. That is a lot to deliver in a small module!
Here is the problem I have: while Witch Hunt is one of the better DLC modules I have played, it is disappointing in every way.
Technically everything is well done – as you would expect, by now the DLC team has a solid handle on putting together modules. The graphics are polished and the character animations are smoother than ever. The music doesn’t seem new but it sounds great as you and your party travel from location to location. And the voice acting – with one notable exception I’ll mention later – is superb.
As mentioned, this DLC is about the hunt for Morrigan, one of the central characters of Dragon Age: Origins. So you begin outside of Flemeth’s cabin, the same place you went on your first pre-Warden quest way back at the beginning of the original game. Your trusty Mabari hound is with you, and you meet up with your first new companion (Arianne) at the cabin.
Soon enough you’re heading to the Mage Circle tower. Wait, what? Your first two places are simple retreads of the original game? Yes! And while it is reasonable to expect familiar places in a DLC exploring familiar characters, couldn’t we hit someplace new after the initial stop at the shack?
I guess it isn’t fair, since immediately after leaving the tower you head to a couple of new locations – some Elven ruins for a mirror shard, and a Thaig (though a different one than in the last DLC, but close enough) for some lights. Then you can complete a scrying ritual and locate the Eluvian in the Dragonbone Wastes, and ostensibly also locate Morrigan.
Sounds reasonable, and at about two hours it is fairly long for a DLC module. So why am I saying it is a disappointment?
I say it is a disappointment because while you start at least as a level 20 character, none of the combat is particularly challenging. There is one epic battle late in the module, but I never lost a single character even when I started with a new Warden (i.e. at level 20 rather than my level 35 final Warden). As I described before, I expect high level combat to be winnable but challenging. This was too easy for high-level combat.
I say it is a disappointment because the best area in the game is the Mage Circle tower. And since I play a Mage in general, I have seen that area a bunch of times already. The other areas are ‘new’ but are pretty generic.
I say it is a disappointment because the single most important character in the story – Morrigan – ‘phones in’ her voice acting. You only get a short encounter, so it really matters – everything comes down to this. And while we have the same voice actor as the original game, she might as well have been reading a recipe for lemon cake.
I say it is a disappointment because while everything points towards your ability to conclude your story with Morrigan once and for all, in reality your sphere of influence is very small. As I said, I played with my Warden from my original game, and also as a brand new character. Morrigan recognized that she knew one but not the other, and there were a couple of different branches available in the conversation – but ultimately the end was the same.
And finally I say it is a disappointment because for all the promise of “confronting Morrigan in this dramatic conclusion to the Origins storyline”, all you get is a teaser for new questions and no answers to ANYTHING … heck, it was less satisfying than the end of Empire Strikes Back!
But in spite of all of those disappointments it is still one of the better DLC modules for Dragon Age. There is a reasonable story, some decent combat opportunities, actual characters to interact with, and a couple of hours of play time. Is it a good value? It depends on the value you place on seeing the end of the original Dragon Age story. $7 is a reasonable price for two hours of gaming in this new DLC world, but prepare for disappointment if you join the Witch Hunt!
Review: Dragon Age: Origins Witch Hunt DLC
Where to Buy: Bioware.com
Price: $7.00 (800 Microsoft Points)
What I Like: Decent high-level combat; Varied enemies; Solid story; Decent new characters; Get to use my Warden again
What Needs Improvement: Doesn’t really resolve anything; Not enough variety of environments; Most of the game is repeated areas from before; Morrigan’s reappearance is unsatisfying; Not enough difference between playing my old Warden and a new character; Combat is too easy
Source: Personal purchase