Dragon Age: Awakening Review aka “I think that my experience outweighs your valour.”
Dragon Age: Awakening is the largest DLC and the only real expansion to Dragon Age: Origins. It takes place after the main Dragon Age: Origins game, and completes the story of the protagonist’s exploits within Ferelden. It is quite a large offering, adding quite a bit of gameplay, story, as well as taking into account the player’s previous actions in Dragon Age: Origins. While promising, the offerings in Dragon Age: Awakening don’t quite live up to to the original, despite being quite a bit of fun.
Story aka “I only seek to release them from their chains.”
After the events of Dragon Age: Origins, the original protagonist (or a new one, if you so choose) is offered the opportunity to take over an area in the North of Ferelden to rule, only to discover a new and exciting adventure which will consume his/her time.
Dragon Age: Awakening touches upon the intrigue of Ferelden rulership, giving the player the opportunity to make a variety of decisions, minor and major, which shape the survivability of the lands under your control. It also delves deeply into the nature of the Darkspawn to a far greater degree than was done in Dragon Age: Origins, giving a few insights into the their existence and development.
The story is interesting, and a welcome change of pace, with many shades of grey present – something I consider to be a sign of an intriguing world, rather than an oversimplified, black and white one. As with Dragon Age: Origins, the NPCs are nicely developed, but in keeping with the overall theme, they too are quite morally complex. It’s a nice turn of events in a game when you can find yourself liking, or at least, being sympathetic towards, characters who aren’t really very nice people. A+ for characterization, really.
The companions in Dragon Age: Awakening are also much better than in the normal game, and they are the first companions that I really cared in a game about for quite a long time. Sadly, the level of interaction with them is more limited than in Dragon Age: Origins due to, well, the game being smaller, but some how they still manage to shine more brightly than any of the characters in the original game, despite having less opportunity to do so.
The story-important/moral decisions one can make in this game also seem far more realistic somehow, as in almost every situation you can see the benefits to all options available. Choices really do seem to be choices, rather than just ‘The Good And Sensible Route’ and ‘We Had To Put Something Else Here’. These choices really only change the epilogue, rather than much within the game itself, but they resonated with me far more than many of the choices in the first campaign.
Gameplay aka “I guess I’m still alive! Funny how that keeps happening!”
The gameplay is, as one might expect, largely in Dragon Age: Awakening, save for many new abilities, more equipment and a far higher level achievable. It’s mostly more of the same, which I consider to be nothing but a good thing. Really, if you liked the gameplay in Dragon Age: Origins, you will like it in Dragon Age: Awakening, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Frustratingly, Dragon Age: Awakening is not precisely… polished. In fact, calling it polished would be incredibly generous. There are number of ridiculous bugs, such as it being impossible to raise influence with companions if certain quests are done before you find them (whilst it may be a spoiler, I’ll just say it anyway: don’t do the Orphan quests without being sure you have every NPC companion). Another great bug is that Dragon Age: Awakening uses some of the same resources as other DLC’s. The graphics file for a wonderful weapon one can have crafted by an NPC in Dragon Age: Awakening has the same name as the graphics for another, different weapon, that can be crafted by an NPC in Watcher’s Keep, causing annoying compatibility and disappearing weapon bugs.
And yes, there are more. Really, I can’t help but think that no-one actually played Dragon Age: Awakening before it was released, as there is almost no way to miss some of these.
Graphics and Audio aka “You took that beautiful music from us, and left us nothing!”
I could copy and paste the section here from my Dragon Age: Origins review here, but I won’t bother. Looks pretty, sounds good, and looks and sounds like Dragon Age: Origins – that’s Dragon Age: Awakening in a nut shell.
Conclusion aka “Hey, look at me – I’m an elf! ‘Trees are pretty! Tra-la-la!’”
Whilst worth playing, Dragon Age: Awakening’s lack of polish makes it disappointing in places. I highly recommend that anyone playing this game be prepared for a few frustrating sections, but at least it is worth the effort.