Words by Calasade

Let’s talk video games. Now, I’m not a die-hard gamer, but games do provide a nice break from writing (dream job) and software engineering (day job). Sometimes, playing a game makes for great research, as you will see when I review Ryse: Son of Rome. What I look for most in games is no different than what I desire in a movie or book.

The STORY is what matters.

Graphics are a nice plus. A good inventory system and controls, too. But, yeah, first and foremost the sucker better have a decent story with interesting characters and immersion o’ plenty.

This time out we’ll discuss one of the earlier Dragon Age offerings. Leliana’s Song is a DLC/add-on for Dragon Age: Origins from way back in 2009, I believe.  As a stand-alone, the story is fine. A little weak, a bit shallow, but Leliana is a fascinating woman. See, she’s a bard. Now, we won’t go into what all being a bard entails, though I will highlight that Leliana has served as assassin and infiltrator. Too, she’s a romantic. Very interesting combination of character traits right there. Doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty. Course, were she ugly, she might have a difficult time serving as a seductress. She’s also wicked with short-swords in her hand and could challenge William Tell in accuracy with a bow and arrow.

The title of Leliana’s Song comes from Leliana singing a tune rather beautifully in Origins. Honestly, that was a stellar moment in video game history. Nothing in the story for the DLC, though, is about a song. I suppose the intent was to use song in place of tale, but as an author, I find this irritating and as a consumer, I find it to be a cheap hearkening to something greater. Perhaps I would deem that less so on both fronts were the story more consistent with what she reveals to the player-character in Origins. At the end of Leliana’s Song, she says the version you have just heard is only one version, a writer’s hack for taking the easy way out rather than going to the trouble of writing a story that is more cohesive with what was established. Laziness and rush-development are shown, too, through Leliana’s Song reusing locations from Origins rather than offering a place new and different. Ditto with the stereotypical non-player characters.

All this points to a quick cash-grab by Electronic Arts. No surprise there as Bioware’s parent company is known for that sort of thing. The greatest redeeming quality of Leliana’s Song is the growth Leliana experiences. That is quite impressive, even more so considering this takes place in a video game. If you’re looking for a character-driven tale, you won’t go wrong getting this. By doing so, you’ll get a nice piece of armor to use in Origins, too.

Do not, however, expect much in the way of role-playing. Decisions here are precious and few and none possess any impact on the DLC or Origins. A sad thing, but true.

The following video is Leliana’s Song in its entirety. Needless to say, there are spoilers, but I wanted to provide it so you could see firsthand what the DLC is like. Available in HD 1080p.

25 out of 40 points


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