Dragon Age Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon Review
Reviewed on Xbox One
March 26, 2015
Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Jaws of Hakkon expansion is a familiar mix of fetch quests, trail-following, and fade-closing; in other words, Inquisition’s bread and butter. While it doesn’t stand out enough from the main game to prove essential, it does offer beautiful Lost World-esque environments to explore, some tough new challenges, and a story that adds an interesting, if surprisingly low-key, dynamic to the Dragon Age universe.
Jaws of Hakkon introduces a sun-dappled region studded with fairy-tale mushrooms, prehistoric nasties, and tropical birds known as Frostback Basin. Not only is this addition one of the Inquisition map’s most immediately beautiful terrains, it’s got a fair bit of design depth to it, too. As I galloped my way through it, I was treated to a wide variety of locales; a muddy, foggy swamp, twisted, dizzying tree trunks twisted into pathways, and little villages were I began the quests that would occupy me for a good five or six hours.
While I found the basic thrust of these overly familiar – “Find X to complete the quest!” “Kill Y to complete the quest!” “Oh no, Z is mysteriously missing!” – Jaws of Hakkon provides an interesting context to give each more relevance. It turns out that the Frostback Basin is being terrorized by fevered fanatics of the God of Hakkon, which causes trouble for your Inquisitor as you search for the final resting place of the last Inquisitor, missing in the region for 800 years.
It’s a surprisingly impersonal story – your Inquisitor status is rather meaningless, and while your party returns with their signature vibrance, they merely provide background colour – but at the very least, it highlights developer BioWare’s skill at world-building. There’s a real sense of history here between the Hakkonites and Avaar who live in the region, and their traditions and rituals have been obviously created with a great deal of thought and imagination.
Jaws of Hakkon also gives a bit more screentime to one of Inquistion’s most endearing characters: Scout Harding. While she remains characteristically professional, Harding – and her wonderful voice actress Ali Hillis – reveal a little more of her heart here, and Jaws of Hakkon is a more touching story for it.
It helps that Inqusition’s sense of humour is dryer than ever in this DLC. While I wouldn’t dare recommend one party member over the rest (ahem – Dorian), Hakkon’s banter game is strong, and some of the characters you’ll meet have some fantastic one-liners that made me genuinely laugh – always a tough feat in the frequently ultra-serious fantasy RPG genre.
The lightness is particularly appreciated later on, when Jaws of Hakkon ramps up the difficulty to a teeth-clenching degree. For those even at a highish level – I began at 22 – there’s real challenge to be found here. The more I explored the region, the more Hakkonites swamped me in numbers, and the Pride Demons at fade rifts grew more relentless.
For the most part I welcomed the sudden upturn in difficulty, particularly as I’d begun to take my power for granted after 60 or so hours of Inquisititing. The exception is that I would have liked the option to have changed my party composition at a certain brutal point in the late game, where a combination of inexplicable finality on BioWare’s part and poor-decision making on mine almost cost me six hours of progress. My advice? Manually save – and do it often.
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