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Review

Dragon Age: Origins - Witch Hunt Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: September 9, 2010
  • PC

Morrigan's return is a disappointment in this vapid downloadable add-on.

Morrigan's sharp tongue and vain indifference made her one of Dragon Age: Origins' most intriguing characters, so you might have been excited to learn of her return in that role-playing game's newest downloadable content, Witch Hunt. Sadly, you should temper your expectations: Witch Hunt is a lifeless escapade without wit, soul, or character, with Morrigan herself appearing in a cameo so brief that she might as well have not appeared at all. The contemptuous apostate mage is simply a MacGuffin--an abstract plot device that provides a reason for you and your party members to embark on a simple fetch quest that's explained with as little dialogue as possible. The story, such as it is, fizzles long before it reaches its limp climax, and its blandness is barely veiled by easy and predictable combat. A few odd moments jump out to remind you what made Dragon Age: Origins so wonderful, such as an enjoyable battle versus a creepy, multilegged beast and its minions. But these are small delights in a short, disappointing adventure that isn't worth the $7 asking price.

You start the hunt by importing a Dragon Age character or creating a new one, at which point you are whisked to Flemeth's door, where apparently a mysterious figure has been sighted. As it turns out, it isn't Morrigan--it's a Dalish elf called Ariane, who believes Morrigan has stolen a tome of some importance from her clan. It's a convenient reason for her to join your party, though she has very little to offer in the way of conversation from that point forward; most of her lines are plot-driven, revolving around an ancient word with unknown meaning and the scattered pieces of a vital object. Later, a mage joins your quest for even flimsier reasons, and surprisingly, he has even less personality than the dull, characterless Ariane. Your party is rounded out by a mabari hound, which means you at least get a full party, though his origin is never explained, and he comes across as the easiest way to round out the party without having to explain another character's presence or write additional dialogue. The voice acting gets the job done, but it isn't up to the standards set by the main game and its previous DLC, though to be fair, the script calls for little beyond tossing out plot elements. It's all filling in the blanks without a lick of creativity, just so you can reach an insulting "cliff-hanger" that apparently sets up events in Dragon Age 2--but does little else.

And so you set out to find Morrigan for purposes only vaguely explained, starting in a library at the Circle of Magi's tower. You run into an old friend from the main game here, though his presence isn't explained and comes across as a feeble attempt at fan service. Your main goal in the library isn't to chat with your pals, however, but to click on a bunch of bookcases until you can shift the adventure into a higher gear. Once the quest gets moving along, however, you find that the highest gear never reaches the speeds Dragon Age: Origins is capable of reaching. You explore a few areas, and they look quite lovely and provide a pleasant backdrop to the flurry of particles and explosions your colorful spells and skills emit. Unfortunately, the enemies you meet as you slash and claw your way through these nice environs don't put up much of a fight. You slice up the usual suspects on your travels, but you won't need to fiddle with your party's behavior patterns or perform any micromanagement. A menacing monstrosity provides a few momentary thrills, but while this great-looking boss lends Witch Hunt some combat variety, you needn't fear defeat, for it never ventures near.

Some of the environments are quite lovely. Too bad you won't find any surprises lurking in them.

You can finish Witch Hunt in around 90 minutes, but that's 90 minutes you should devote to Dragon Age: Origins' other, better DLC. Even Morrigan herself seems bored by the whole thing, displaying little of her signature sneering wit in the precious few moments she appears onscreen. The main game is, at its core, fun to play, and so you may still squeeze some amusement from the simple battles and appreciate the obscure hint of events to come. But even the most fanatical Dragon Age enthusiasts will come away bewildered by a brief and hollow addition to a universe that surely must have greater mysteries to reveal than this.

The Good
Some of the environments look lovely
A cool boss fight
The Bad
Morrigan's role is so tiny that it's practically unnecessary
Throwaway party members
Way too easy
Story lumbers toward an ending that illuminates nothing
5
Mediocre
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GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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Dragon Age: Origins More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Dragon Age: Origins is an RPG based on a brand-new fantasy world.
    8.6
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    Developed by:
    BioWare
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, Spike
    Genres:
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    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
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