Taking place either during or after your main adventures as Champion of Kirkwall, Mark of the Assassin begins as yet another tale that Varic offers up to his Inquisitor interrogator. This time around, Varic has set up a meeting between your party and Tallis, an elven rogue who has a heist she needs help with. What follows is perhaps the most unique Dragon Age II DLC released to date.
Tallis the elven rogue is voiced by the enchanting nerd goddess Felicia Day, known for her work on The Guild, as well as a newer member of the Eureka TV series cast. She injects Tallis’ character with personality and humor, so much so that Tallis is one of the first Dragon Age II characters to be fully realized and developed in that way that BioWare has made famous.
Tallis is a rogue with the standard rogue abilities but also her own skill set, the Infiltrator. In this skill set, Tallis has abilities which allow her to kill weaker enemies outright, as well as a useful skill that allows her to vanish and reappear right on her targeted enemy. These skills make her a fairly effective rogue and make me wish I had access to her throughout the entire game.
The adventure itself seems simple enough: take advantage of an offer to attend a Wyvern hunt by an Orlesian nobleman, and during the event sneak into his keep and steal a rare gem. Needless to say things are never as simple as they sound.
The DLC is broken down into a few separate areas. The first deals with the hunt for the Wyvern, where the winner of the first kill gets the honors at the banquet. This first area contains a number of smaller quests as well as a new enemy, the slightly annoying ghasts. This section culminates with a Wyvern hunt, although I am curious why a party of adventurers that took down an ancient dragon would struggle with a far less deadly Wyvern.
The second section introduces an entirely new gameplay mechanic for Dragon Age, that being the stealth mechanic. While not entirely perfect, it is an attempt to allow for a new form of gameplay. This mostly involves keeping to shadows, while avoiding randomly patrolling guards. You do have the ability to knock out guards temporarily, before they regain consciousness and seemingly forget that anything happened. Getting caught just forces you to restart, so there is not a huge penalty for not utilizing proper stealth outside of convenience.
The final section involves a series of fairly clever puzzles and enemy encounters, topped off by a rather cool end boss battle. There is also a handful of side quest options available that seem to differ based on which companions you have in your party. While not crucial, I did find that the Aveline quest seems to hint at a possible conspiracy involving her family.
There are also a few puzzles that you can choose to work through or leave alone. With the exception of a pesky slider puzzle, I found them fairly fun, and I was able to work them out without resorting to any spoilers. You will also walk away with some decent loot, including a pretty powerful new set of armor for your character.
"…this is precisely the type of downloadable content that publishers need to be supporting their products with."
Overall, I would say that this is precisely the type of downloadable content that publishers need to be supporting their products with. In the end it is ten dollars, for a 4-5 hour chunk of content that features a new party member and some new treasure, quests, and monsters. Tallis leaves your party, which is sad as she would have been a fun rogue to keep in the party.
The other thing worth mentioning is that this DLC reeks of fun. It is somewhat over-the-top, with scores of amusing quips, entertaining NPCs and funny dialogue overheard everywhere. There is more personality in the surroundings and characters of Mark of the Assassin, to the extent that the main game nearly pales in comparison. This is an easy recommendation to make and a far more satisfying experience than the previous Legacy DLC.