Bioware second content rich DLC Mark of the Assassin brings a few new wrinkles to the land of Thedas. There’s party mingling, flirtation, stealth infiltration, puzzle solving along with the goodies you come to know and love with Dragon Age 2. Mark of the Assassin takes us to the land of Orlais on the hunt for the “Jewel of the Many” being held in a private mansion of a powerful man.
Varric sets the tone early. “Let me set the scene. An invitation, an ambush, all because of Tallis.” And that’s pretty much it. The story has interesting twists and viewpoints, but overall it leaves you bewildered with unanswered questions instead of craving for more. The DLC opens up and drags you along for the experience. Although I was disappointed with the beginning of the story, I was wonderfully amazed by the entire experience. The story takes you from hunting for wyverns in the field, mingling with nobles, to infiltrating a castle. You may think that this is Dragon Age: Kasumi’s Lost Memories, but that is kind of a misrepresentation.
When you get into the swings of things, you immediately hit a few roadblocks. You’re supposed to be on a wyvern hunt, but the way they designed the environment that you’ll have to explore feels very sparse. It felt like I was on a picnic rather than a scene depicting an extravagant hunt for bragging rights.
The other hiccup is on one of the earlier fights with an Arcane Horror and skeletons, the combat shows it flaws severely. You have to fight in an enclosed area against the an enemy that specializes in area of effect spells and at that point I’m babysitting my A.I companions because the apparently don’t know how to not stand in the fire, resulting in a pretty big difficult fight no matter what difficulty you play on.
After that however, I had fun experience. Tallis, the new companion you get in the game is very unique and bring a lot of personality to the table. You may be familiar with the actor Felicia Day from The Guild; she voices Tallis as well as, plays her in her Dragon Age web-series, Dragon Age: Redemption. She gives the game a breath of fresh air by bringing in a lot of comedy to a game that has an overall sobering dark fantasy theme.
Besides her great personality, Tallis is a unique companion. She’s a rogue, but she can play ranged. Instead of running up to an enemy, she will throw countless daggers at them. To gel with her regular attacks, her unique skills from her specialization tree are designed to get her up close to an enemy where she can then utilize the her dagger skills.
Outside of Tallis’s abilities, the combat has the same feel you would expect from Dragon Age 2, some new enemies, but other than that nothing new. The exception to this, however, is the last boss battle. They manage to add a few new wrinkles to combat by using elaborate traps and utilizing the environment to weaken the boss should you manage to drive it to a certain spot. If only they could have sprinkled some of that throughout the game.
They also make stretch as to what they can do with the game. While you’re infiltrating the castle, they add puzzles and a nifty stealth sequence to mix up the experience. While plundering the castles many treasures, there are puzzles you’ll have to figure out including floor puzzles where the answer lies around you that give you subtle hints. There are also door puzzles where you need to utilize your companions and different color seals to figure out the correct door sequence.
Now the stealth sequence they put in the game was a neat idea, but when you compare to other games, it felt like it was shoehorned in. During the sequence, you have a few abilities that you can use. One of them is to throw a rock at a select destination to move a guard that blocking your way and the other is a stealth takedown should get close enough to a guard to incapacitate him for a few seconds. The whole thing feels linear and some of the mechanics feel wonky.
For example, sometimes when I threw a stone to get a guard’s attention, he would proceed to the area and then turn right back around to block my path, thus preventing me from advancing. The knockdown effects aren’t permanent and as soon as the guard gets up, he’s already self-aware, so if you are close by his field of view, as soon as he comes to he spots you right away and you have to start over. Even with its flaws, I appreciated what they tried to do.
Overall, Mark of the Assassin is another good piece of DLC. You get enjoy the Dragon Age you love (or hate), the story while leaving me more empty than wanting more has some interesting twists and perspective. Once again, all new environments, spot-on voice acting, new enemies, and some more puzzles round out the experience. If you were looking from something dramatically different however, this might not be it.
- Interesting Story
- Puzzle and Stealth Mechanics brings in some new wrinkles
- Boss Battle was really enjoyable
- Story could have been told better
- Puzzles and Stealth might not be your thing
- No dramatic changes to the Dragon Age 2 formula