X360A Review: Dragon Age: Origins' Darkspawn Chronicles DLC
Written Thursday, May 27, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
The last piece of Dragon Age: Origins DLC was the substantial but flawed Awakenings, which offered a lot in terms of content, but also more than its fair share of bugs and issues too. Next up to the plate is the Darkspawn Chronicles, which allows you to step into the shoes of the villains for once with spectacular results... or not as the case may be.
Not so pretty now, are we?
This DLC sees you control a Hurlock Vanguard as the Darkspawn horde attacks the city of Denerim under the command of the Archdemon. The events play out exactly as they do at the end of the main game, so it would be advisable for new players to finish the original title before dabbling in this content or risk a few spoilers. The real problem here is that all of the areas for this add-on have been ripped wholesale from the original, meaning there is nothing new to really see or do. Instead, the whole episode plays out in a very linear fashion that sees you follow a straight line to a brief final showdown while slaughtering anything in your path.
Your Hurlock leader has the unique ability to enthral any other Darkspawn in the area, meaning you can recruit Ogres, Genlocks, Shrieks and the like, to fight by your side. All of them have their own skill sets and abilities, some of which are more useful than others. Considering the fact you can just smash you way past everything, there is no real tactical sense to pick one ally over another though, with the exception of the Emissary who is the only healer you can acquire. They also come pretty much equipped from the off and you will only rarely find any new arms and armour on your travels, not to mention the fact you cannot level up or buy equipment either. It makes the whole thing feel rather flat and linear.
Uh oh, someone's about to get stomped.
Each area sees you receiving orders from the Archdemon about where to go and who to kill, and you will often run into the leading characters from the main game too. At least they put up more of a fight than the normal grunts who are surprisingly easy to dispatch. Clearing out each area will mean you can move onto the next, before you end up directly involved in the Archdemon's fight for survival. The plot is scant at best and the DLC never really explains any more about the motivation behind the Darkspawn attacks. All it really offers is an alternative ending to the game in the form of “what if the bad guys won?” but the brevity of the gameplay and lack of story means it does not even succeed in this regard either.
There are however three new achievements on offer, worth seventy five points, and they can all be snagged in a solitary playthrough. Two of them are secrets so I will not spoil them here, but suffice it to say they are tied to using a variety of allies and keeping them alive/happy. Quite frankly you will have the points in no time, barring yet another glitch that seems to be affecting some gamers, and the problem is that you feel that you have not really done much to even earn them.
So far all of the DLC for Dragon Age: Origins has been a major disappointment and this one is no different. When the main game so expertly blended a long term plot, exploration and character interaction, the DLC has managed to strip away the winning formula and offer bite sized chunks of action that do not really have much going for them. After all, Dragon Age: Origins was supposed to be an RPG. A real missed opportunity.