"Change is coming..."
This is a quote from the end of Dragon Age: Origins' final DLC package, Witch Hunt. The obvious intention is to build anticipation for the upcoming sequel, Dragon Age 2, but for me there was another underlying meaning. I certainly hope change is coming, BioWare, because if Witch Huntis any indication of the quality of Dragon Age 2, you've got your work cut out for you.
We here at Game Rant loved the original release of Dragon Age: Origins (read our review here), and found a majority of its DLC amazingly compelling. Stories like The Stone Prisoner, which introduced the dwarf turned golem Shale, Return to Ostagar, which allowed you to find the armor of your fallen king, or Darkspawn Chronicles, that switched perspectives and allowed you to fight the final, climatic battle in Origins as the enemy.
Witch Hunt though, is two hours of BioWare giving up on Dragon Age: Origins. It's BioWare taking the last loose end of the story that players deeply cared about and turning it into an advertisement. I've just finished the DLC, so perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, but I have no doubt that I'll wake up tomorrow and still be disappointed with Witch Hunt.
Fair warning, there are spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins from here on. In order to discuss where Witch Hunt begins, I will need to explain how the Origins campaign ended.
Witch Hunt's story picks up one year after Morrigan's departure, prior to the final battle the the Arch Demon. Where she's been, no one knows, but you plan on finding her nevertheless.
Of course, depending on the outcome of your story in Origins, you could either be playing your original Grey Warden, the Warden you could have created for the Awakenings expansion, or a completely new Warden. I'll clarify that I started a completely new Warden character for this DLC, because my main character, Blusi the Noble Dwarf, sacrificed himself to kill the Arch Demon. Carrying your original character over from Origins is likely to create a more robust story in Witch Hunt, so do that if it seems fitting.
The search begins at Flemmeth's hut where you meet Ariane, a Daelish warrior searching for a tome Morrigan is said to have stolen. Ariane quickly joins your party, which already consists of Dog, your Mabari war hound from the original game. You eventually encounter Finn, a human mage of the Circle Tower, and the four of you search for Morrigan together.
From here the plot becomes a method of progression rather than any impactful narrative. Simply put, you need go from point A to point B, puzzling and battling your way to Morrigan. At that point, you might figure a dramatic encounter would ensue. Perhaps for certain specific storylines that might be true, but in my case no such drama occurred. Instead, BioWare might as well have said, "Look forward to Dragon Age 2," and abruptly closed my game.
The ending was trite, emotionless, and completely dismissive of all the work I'd previously put into Dragon Age: Origins, or any of the later DLC. Even Ariane and Finn's small storylines are completely ignored in DLC's ending; why would you even bother giving them personalities if you don't give their stories closure? Knowing this is the final Dragon Age: Origins DLC only makes the disappointment more poignant. I wish I had simply finished the original game and progressed no further.
*Upon further investigation, if your storyline involved a romantic relationship with Morrigan that resulted in your character's survival, the ending of Witch Hunt should prove much more poignant. Congratulations, you've picked the correct ending for Dragon Age: Origins. BioWare has created this DLC pack specifically for you and no one else.
As far as gameplay aspects go, expect some new puzzles to be solved, as well as a number of new combat scenarios. There's also a great looking new enemy which you'll encounter. It's almost ridiculous how it shows up out of nowhere, but it's still nice to see some original content.
And it has to be said that the soundtrack and voicework is as well done as ever. Even the rolling credits and my bitter frustrations couldn't keep me from feeling gloomy and nostalgic due to the beautiful music track running in the background. Finn and Ariane are wonderfully voiced, and hold the potential for more depth than BioWare gave them.
It all seems moot though, as the small portions of excellent combat and atmosphere only encourage me to wonder what could and should have been Witch Hunt. Sadly, this DLC was not made for me and my Dragon Age experience, and it likely wasn't made for yours either.
If you're looking to spend $7 for some closure in your Morrigan relationship, or for some vague hints about Dragon Age 2, then you might consider purchasing Witch Hunt. If you're looking for the closing chapter on Dragon Age: Origins as a whole, you'll not find it here. If there had even been a hint of that in the DLC's closing moments, I'd likely have much more positive comments. As it stands though, Witch Hunt dismisses the choices I made in Origins as the wrong ones.
"You'll find no sympathy for your decisions here," says BioWare, and I say the same thing right back to them.
Dragon Age: Origins' Witch Hunt is currently available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC for $7 [560 BioWare Points, 560 MS Points, $6.99 PSN].
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