If we ignore the fact that most players will get The Stone Prisoner for free with their purchase of Dragon Age: Origins, the price of this DLC is more than double the cost of Warden’s Keep, for a quest which wont take very long to complete at all. You should expect to get roughly 1 to 2 hours of actual experience from this DLC, depending on how quickly you blitz through it. So, is The Stone Prisoner worth getting if you do have to pay for it? This review assumes you did not get it for free – so let’s see if it’s actually worth the price Bioware is asking for it.
The first thing you will notice when you activate this DLC, is a new area opens at Sulchers Pass. Once you travel there, you will meet an unfortunate merchant who offers you the control rod for a golem. One thing that stood out a little, is the fact the merchant wants absolutely nothing in return. Bioware could have enhanced the experience, and the length of this DLC a little by adding a quest which forces you to help the merchant before you get the rod, but alas.
There’s one catch with the rod though – the golem is inactive and can be found in a village which will unlock on your map at this point. The golem itself stands still as a statue in the middle of the village, wihch is over-run with Darkspawn. I will not spoil the actual mystery, but suffice to say that you need to help the villagers before you gain control of the golem. The story doesn’t take very long but is extremely well written and scripted, and actually very enjoyable to play.
The story climaxes with an excellent boss fight, preceded by an intriguing conversation. Again I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a tile-puzzle involved before you face the final encounter. The loot in this area is excellent – I arrived here after finishing both the Mage Tower and Redcliffe and made extremely good use of at least 4 items. It’s definitely a very well made side-quest. The main value in this DLC is the golem (Shale) itself, which becomes a companion once you finish the DLC.
Shale has tons of well-voiced dialogue and is completely integrated with the other companions in the game. This means you can expect the usual interjections and banter with the others. Shale is extremely sarcastic and is actually a very interesting companion to speak with and have around. Obviously his equipment is fairly limited, much like the dog. In combat, Shale is extremely versatile and can fulfill multiple roles at the same time.
Just by himself, Shale makes this DLC worth having. This however doesn’t remove the fact that Bioware really missed the mark with the asking price for this DLC. Shale was made alongside the rest of Dragon Age’s companions, so one could argue that this should have been part of the original game to begin with. In a way it was, as you get a voucher to activate the DLC for free right from the start. If you however bought the game second-handed, you will need to pay a steep price for what comes down to 1-2 hours of content and an additional companion.
So is The Stone Prisoner worth buying, if you don’t already have it? That really depends how badly you want to ‘own it all’ or have an additional companion for your party. If you have little need for a sarcastic bird-hating golem in your party, I would probably give this a miss in favour of some other DLC. It’s really a shame that Bioware made this DLC so expensive – as it’s very well made and the price is really the only thing holding it back.