Review: Dragon Age

Review: Dragon Age

Today, BioWare returns to form with another great DLC installment for Dragon Age: Origins. Last month it was announced that Golems of Amgarrak would be released, and having just played through it right now, I can honestly say it’s one of their better ones.

It all starts off when Jerrik Dace, a dwarf, writes a letter to your main Grey Warden character. His brother, Brogan, went into the Deep Roads with an expedition of 20+ men, and none of them came back. The rest of Orzammar is unaware of Amgarrak’s existence, and House Dace intends to keep it that way. King Harrowmont, upon hearing this news, instructed Jerrik to contact the Warden since he, or she, would be the only one who could aid him. What really makes this a mystery for Jerrik is that Darkspawn don’t seem to be the cause of it, because even though they’ve been seen nearby, the Darkspawn haven’t been attacking but merely observing.

Starting off in the Deep Roads Grotto, Jerrik joins your party. He is a level 35 Rogue with the Ranger and Duelist specializations. Immediately you can level him up and even add on one of the remaining specialization classes: Assassin, Shadow, Bard, or Legionnaire Scout. I chose Legionnaire scout since he already had his dual weapons maxed out, and I had a feeling that I wouldn’t gain enough experience to properly level up anything else, like if I switched him to use a bow and arrow. What’s awesome about Jerrik is that he comes with Snug the Bronto, one of the animals that looks like a mutated rhino. According to the codex for Snug, Jerrik rescued him years ago from when he was injured by Darkspawn. Not wanting to leave Jerrik’s side, Snug not only got his name, but became fiercely protective of him.

Early on in searching through the Deep Roads Grotto, you stumble upon a Runic Golem. Needing the control rod to activate it, you simply go to the other side of the Grotto to obtain it. While having a Golem in your party is awesome, it wasn’t the same as having Shale. This Golem didn’t talk, you couldn’t level it up, but there are documents that you find throughout this DLC that give your Golem new attributes like being able to revive, perform a mass heal, lightning attacks, and more. Should you find all of these papers, you will receive an achievement worth 25 gamerscore points.

After wading through the Deep Roads for a bit, you quickly realize that something isn’t right. There is a strange purple mist everywhere, a lot of the enemies are semi-transparent, and there are strange blue figures running around. I will say this though, in the description for the DLC, it says this is only for experienced or high-level players…and I completely agree. In the first fight against some Shrieks, Jerrik quickly died. There is no store to sell things, there are no items to create potions, there is nothing. What you start off with in your inventory, and what you manage to find in chests is all the help you’re going to get. I don’t even remember enemies dropping items once I defeated them. That’s how scarce health is.

Once you go through the Grotto, you reach Amgarrak. Inside, you come upon a journal written by one of the members of the missing expedition crew. It seems that Amgarrak was started by a dwarf from Orzammar and a mage from Tevinter, and they wanted to continue the work of Caridin. According to the notes in the journal, Branka even knew about this place but chose to avoid it. Still tasked with finding Jerrik’s brother, Brogan, you begin to search through Amgarrak but some places are blocked off by strange magical barriers that are in different colors.

The name Golems of Amgarrak is accurate because throughout this section, you will encounter a lot of Golems. It wasn’t fun having massive chunks of stone being tossed at me every second, but at least it was a challenge. The Golems never came in small groups either. It was always at least a minimum of 6 at a time, so it made things a little difficult in terms of “who do I target first?” By paying attention to the names/ranks of the Golems, you’ll be able to figure it out pretty quickly which ones are easier to go for first. The Enraged Sentinels were a pain in the ass, but obviously I lived to tell the tale.

Without going into too much more about the story, you will obtain another member of your party, but it’s not a Mage. A Mage would’ve been an incredible help in this DLC, but instead BioWare thought a Warrior would make a better addition. Also, I didn’t come across any pieces of armor, but I did get a couple of accessories, some boots that were for Mages only, and a sword. Since you are in Dwarf Country, runes are aplenty, and there are a couple of places throughout Amgarrak where you can add them to your armor or weapons.

There are a couple things however that made me not like this DLC. One is that in order to get past those blocked off areas, you have to activate a switch that’s the matching color. Once you do that, everything is glowing in that shade. The first color was blue, and it was so much and so bright that it actually started to hurt my eyes. The TV we have is 42″ HD, so it was like a Smurf exploded on the screen. The second color was purple, and while that didn’t bother me too badly, it still wasn’t nearly as nice as having everything normal. Then there was green, and finally red. Out of all the colors, I’d have to say that blue and red were the worst, but having a little puzzle like that was different.

The second thing was the boss. Known as the Harvester (I’m not spoiling that because if you look at the achievements, it’s in there), it’s this nasty blob where it rips things out of its abdomen, and it throws blood and fleshy chunks at you. Now, I made it through to the end on Normal, but as soon as I got to the Harvester, I got my ass kicked. I admit, I had to drop the settings to Casual because a) I didn’t feel like being pissed off early in the morning, b) I wanted to get through it so I could do this review, and c) the initial achievement for it didn’t specify that it had to be defeated on any particular difficulty. After I kicked it’s ass on Casual, I got my achievement and got the hell out of there. I should probably add that, in addition to the two aforementioned achievements, there is a third and final one that requires you to defeat the Harvester on either Hard or Nightmare difficulty. You kids have fun with that.

The ending did close up the main plot in this DLC: finding your brother…but it also had this crazy cliffhanger aspect to it. Once you beat it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It did make me wonder if, in the future, they plan on revisiting that area or storyline.

All in all, it was fun. I played it for a little over an hour, and while there was combat, there was also the story so it had a good balance. Sure there was the downside of, again, not having any of my real party from Origins to be there with me, but at least I got to play as my main character and get some new achievements. Also, the price for this DLC dropped back to 400 MSP, compared to last months Leliana’s Song that was something like 560.

So, if you’re a fan of Dragon Age, I recommend this DLC. It’s significantly better than Return to Ostagar, it has the story aspect that was heavily lacking in Darkspawn Chronicles, and you can actually enjoy it.

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