You Are Cordially Invited – Anna Replays Dragon Age 2 Pt. 5
DLC time! Mark of the Assassin is one of two bigger story DLCs for Dragon Age 2 and has some of my favourite parts about the game in it. It also (together with the Legacy DLC) shows quite well how the entire game could have looked and felt if they had been given the actual time they needed to finish it.
It has gorgeous scenery, getting the most of that clunky engine, a fun and engaging quest, new gameplay mechanics that gives you an option how exactly you want to play a certain part, a new temporary companion, a lot of humour and one of the most fun boss fights in the game. There is a main questline that leads you through and several small side quests as well as tiny companion extra quests that change depending on who is in your party.
Talis is obligatory, giving you a rogue for your party. Cassia takes Anders with her and meets her brother Carver at their destination for a long overdue family reunion. There is quite a bit of romance specific banter and dialogue in the DLC so taking your love interest is always a good idea. On the other hand, taking an unromanced Sebastian and Bethany with you is absolutely hilarious. 10/10, would always recommend! In general every sort of companion combination has it’s moments. They put a lot of effort in there to make all of it very unique.
We start with an ambush that of course happens just because Varric says that it doesn’t always have to be an ambush. He apologises for that afterwards. Turns out there is an elf named Tallis who needs out help steal a jewel in a top notch vault, guarded by a private army in an unbreachable fortress in the middle of nowhere surrounded by dangerous animals. That sounds like an ideal vacation to Cassia and off we go into an Orlesian enclave full of, well, Orlesians of course. Where we are invited by the Duke Whatsshisname to participate in the annual Wyvern hunt. Cassia does a bit of sightseeing and sighslaughtering of things you find in the wild and of course wins the hunt. The way to get the wyvern is absolutely hilarious and ift you find absolutely every single method of bait you get an extra big one to fight. *wohoo*
After that it is party time! But not the fun ones with disco balls and music that makes you move you body whether you want to or not. Nope, this is a party full of soft chamber music, cheese trays and light conversation. Most people know how absolutely funny the interactions are as a sarcastic Hawke. I just found out that the aggressive Hawke is just as ridiculous and funny, only more bluntly. After a lot of smalltalk, tossing coins into the fountain, meeting Leliana for a very small cameo (I just stood there and licked on her to hear the same stock sentence over and over for far to long) and actually flirting with a total tool just to steal a key from him Tallis and Cassia get inside the castle. Anders and Carver are on guard duty meanwhile.
Inside the castle you can either sneak through it or choose to fight your way through. Sneaking is more fun, but fighting gives you more XP. Cassia is not the sneaky type at all so fighting it is. We kill a lot of Orlesians which, as far as Cassia is concerned, it not really a crime. Only to walk right into a trap. The duke knew who Tallis was from the beginning and reveals that she is *shock gasp whatisair* a Qunari! Cassia is more than just slightly pissed when they get thrown into the dungeon. Partly for Tallis lying to her. Mainly though because of the Qunari thing.
At this point I want to point out that it is slightly strange that both Hawke and her companions don’t notice Tallis is Qunari from the moment they meet her, given that she has their logo branded into the middle of her chest piece in plain sight… Buuuuuut we’ll ignore that for now.
Cassia argues with her about her shitty lifestyle choice but agrees that they should hep each other to get out none the less. Meanwhile Carver and Anders are on a heroic mission to rescue Hawke only to utterly fail at it, thwarted by Orlesian architecture. But Cassia and Tallis don’t actually need to be rescued, they break out themselves and pick their companions up on the way out. And now we can leave through the dungeon, or… OR! Or we solve a bunch of puzzles. Look at some paintings, mix some paints together and hop on floor tiles. That sounds like an absolutely great idea! And we find: Treasure. Behind all those puzzles because apparently the one thing Orlais does not have is a decent locksmith profession.
We take the treasure and then leave, only to run into more Qunari. This time of the big and grey variety. They’ve come to stop Tallis, who in turn has come to stop another Qunari to sell out all their spies. Cassia is fed up with all the lies and double bluffs but she agreed to see this through. The moment the get their hands onto the list of spiels the Duke appears though and we have to fight him and his pet wyvern in what is one of the most fun fights in game. AoE damage, Boss Mechanics, never standing still – an actually fun fight! Once we win Cassia throws him off hte cliffs personally. That seems to be another aggressive Hawke special, in the other versions he falls because he can’t hold on anymore. I like this one better to be honest?
Cassia really wants Tallis list but Tallis argues that this would endanger not only the spies but all the people, innocent people, around them and Cassia tells her to go and take it, and kindly never ask for her help again. After this fun adventure it is back to Kirkwall and it’s problems.