The newest download content (DLC) for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is out for the Xbox 360, and offers far more than just extra quests. In fact, I would dare say that the Dragonborn DLC not only blows Dawnguard out of the water, it puts it to shame.
Dragonborn expands the game to the island of Solstheim, an island between Skyrim and the northwestern corner of Morrowind. The main story of Dragonborn starts when you stroll into any town and are attacked by cultists who inform you that you are not the true Dragonborn, just a pathetic imitator. Excuse me? I’m pretty sure I read an Elder Scroll and then Fus Roh Da’d the dragon Alduin into… Well, I was going to say Oblivion, but that’s another game entirely. So, that said, the cultists lead you to the island of Solstheim, where the inhabitants are enthralled by some sort of spell, building strange monuments to a long-dead Dragonborn named Miraak to help him return to the realm of mortals.
I could go on to explain the rest of the main quest, the side-quests, some of the quirky NPCs and so-on, but this is all standard fare for most reviews you’ll find. Instead, I want to discuss the “cyclopean geometry” of Dragonborn.
The main quest and some of the side-quests involve the realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of fate, knowledge, and memory. According to his description from a loading screen in the game, “In his rare dealings with mortals, he often chooses to appear as a grotesque mass of tentacles.”
Hermaeus Mora’s realm, Apocrypha is plane of existence unlike anything one can expect to encounter on Skyrim. Twisting and turning ruins are made of ancient black books that look as though they would be slimy to the touch. The sky glows with a putrid green fog, and pits of poisonous gas lurk in unexpected hallways, while slimy black tentacles lash out from pools of water that are as dark and inky as a starless sky. In some areas, the hallways would shrink, leaving my Dragonborn at a dead end, or stretch into what felt like infinity as I approached them. The spirits of Apocrypha were large, alien-looking creatures that lashed out with tentacles, and squid-faced (think Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean) scholars with soul-piercing (and damage-causing) howls. Overall, the entire experience reminded me of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu:
“He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with terrible vividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone — whose geometry, he oddly said, was all wrong — and hear with frightened expectancy the ceaseless, half-mental calling from underground: ‘Cthulhu fhtagn’, ‘Cthulhu fhtagn.‘”
This strange, unsettling realm is what really made Dragonborn stand out for me. The quests and the stories are great, and the easter eggs relating to Morrowind are fantastic, but this strange and fantastic homage to Lovecraft (whether intentional or not) gives Dragonborn something unique that really makes it stand apart from the original Skyrim game and the previous expansion, Dawnguard.
Review Rating: A+
Bonus! I found this awesome loot: