A truly saddening alternate look to the Dragon Age storyline.
Depressing its story may be, but fun to play though isn't quite as assured.
Darkspawn Chronicles gives you the alternate history of just What If the main character didn't survive the joining. The bumbling, naive though good hearted Alistair is then shown to of taken the lead. You instead now take the role of a Hurlock Vanguard who is tasked with leading the invasion ofDenerim during the last few hours of the Dragon Age: Origins story.
It's an interesting concept, though one that's sadly squandered with some cheap thrills. And even them are at best served towards the Dragon Age devotees. Playing as the darkspawn is pretty damn cool, but probably not worth a purchase for most. For its audience at least, it's worth it just to really turn on the taps and possibly prove to you how much those characters really meant to you.
As the Hurlock Vanguard, you basically have most of the basics for the sword/shield combo warrior with the Champion speciality Warcry ability. It's your thralls that can really give you the most for your money. As a darkspawn General of sorts, you have the ability to recruit any type of darkspawn you encounter. You may have up to three other darkspawn party members and should you find one that you're either bored with, or just want to switch out for someone else, you can simply execute the poor fellow to gain yourself some party space.
The best part about Darkspawn Chronicles is being able to steer along those, once infuriatingly annoying, Sheiks and Ogres. Complete with all their abilities you grew to hate, such as the Sheiks overwhelm and the Ogres hurling of boulders. You can still take control of the grunt Hurlocks and Genlocks too, but they're just lesser versions of character types you've played with before.
Even if you don't have control over the darkspawn army, you'll still find them acting as friendly NPCs to help your invasion through Denerim.
There's not much in the way of story as you'd expect. Mostly just fight through whoever gets in your way, which predictably consists of alot of the characters you otherwise spent around 60+ hours with. Every single party member (minus Shale) will act as boss enemies you'll inevitably have to down. Many of the other friendly NPC characters you came across you will have to kill aswell. From such goodies as Bann Teagan, the Legion of the Dead Commander Kargol to even the humorously odd couple Wade and Herren. Practically every character you met, and otherwise didn't kill, can be found in Darkspawn Chronicles awaiting you to shove a darkspawn blade through their gut.
It can genuinely give you a small sense of guilt after slaughtering so many characters, or it may otherwise fill you with evil gee depending on what type of person you are. The final cutscene especially forced me ask myself ''What have I done?!?''
The gameplay of it all is very much what you'd expect, except now with the tables being turned of course. You can't level up your darkspawn however, so each class type is stuck with only a select few of their abilities. It's greatly disappointing with the Hurlock Emissary, who only seems to have the lesser annoying spells instead of the usual barrage of teeth gritting magic it would cast against you. Your darkspawn thralls do at least have an approval meter. One that is raised through every kill your Vanguard commits. You can even give them gifts on the basis of war trophies too, though it's not something you'll invest so much into considering how expendable each darkspawn party member is.
As you'd expect there's also no dialogue trees either. So you're left with the action portion of Dragon Age more or less, which will turn off many a Dragon Age player definitely, but again for the Dragon Age obsessives it'll be another fault to look past for what is here.
It's fairly short taking around 90 minutes for the seasoned Dragon Age player. Once you complete it, you'll be awarded with a new high quality darkspawn sword both for Origins and Awakening. There is also a few new achievements and trophies added in aswell. For the price of £4.00 though, I still felt that was on the overpriced side. But then that's the norm of Dragon Age DLC these days anyway.
Overall it's an interesting alternate history, though if it doesn't deliver on anything in the future, will simply be a wasted opportunity. It gives you exactly what you'd expect, so it's an easy pass for most. For the Dragon Age obsessives however, this pricey gimmick may just be one worth playing.