REVIEW: The Legend of Dead Kel DLC (X360)
Title: The Legend of Dead Kel DLC
Platform: Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC
Developer: 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Publisher: 38 Studios, Electronic Arts
TL;DR: Survivor with Pirates. No seriously.
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Just like any DLC expansion to a game, if you weren’t a fan of the original game, then there really is no point in talking the virtues of the DLC. However, if you did enjoy KoA: Reckoning, you’ll like the expansion that “Legend of Dead Kel” offers.
The Faelands may not be as big as Skyrim. That wasn’t a shocking statement by any means. It doesn’t have miles upon miles of terrain to explore on horseback. It doesn’t have imposing mountains to climb, dwarven ruins to explore, or a heavenly afterlife, but it certainly is a diverse world.
With everything from a desert to a sprawling forest, a wicked coastline, and a rotting marsh, there’s plenty of places for the Fateless One to explore. The DLC gives a brand spanking new, and rather sizeable area to explore — the island of Dead Kel, a phantom pirate who is known to haunt the waters in Northern Amalur.
He and his crew of Hanged Men call the imposing island of Gallows End home, and as the Fateless One will find out, it’s not exactly the nice island getaway one would hope to go to for a relaxing vacation spot. Those who end up on this island usually don’t make it back home. They go mad, slowly, day by day, as they try to dream up ways back home. Unfortunately, any ship that remotely approaches the island becomes mysteriously shipwrecked.
Thus is the premise for the island of Gallows End. Your hero doesn’t end up here by accident either — you’re given plenty of chances to back away from a mysterious call for help at the capitol city of Rathir, and it’s with good reason. Once you’re on Gallows End, you can’t return to the remainder of the Faelands until you complete the main story quest of Dead Kel.
Now the island of Gallows End is not without adventure. There’s plenty of things to do here, and 38 Studios did an amiable job of filling out the island with many side quests and objects of mystery. Among the quests of “find the lost object,” or “discovery the mystery behind this awkward lumpy object,” you have quests that guide you towards the many caves dotting Gallows End. Perhaps the most fascinating thing that R.A. Salvatore has done with the game as a whole is manage to make every side quest feel a part of the puzzle that is the main quest. There certainly is no shortage to those wishing to satisfy their curious nature.
In this particular DLC’s case, the main quest is attempting to the solve the mystery of the hundreds of shipwrecks, and just who indeed is Dead Kel. Why was he killed, then resurrected? To what purpose? And who the hell are these crazy island dwellers who claim to worship an odd god and that shipwrecking was the best thing to have ever happened to them? Tom Hanks wouldn’t agree, by the way.
Perhaps one of the most interesting sidequests is the restoration of Gravehal Keep, a supposedly haunted fort that stands guard over the southern part of Gallows End. The crazy islanders have managed to conveniently set up camp just down the road from it, but thank the gods for the level-headedness of gnomes in Amalur. If players follow through with the quest to repair and conquer the Hall, they will be rewarded with an expandable house that will include a blacksmith forge, a beast trainer, a combat ring, and numerous merchants and retainers.
Yes, those were plural.
While Dead Kel does offer up some rather fascinating new quests and a new story to pursue, the side quests do begin to feel rather stale after two or three. After being sent to find the fourth piece of a map, or to gather another bundle of sandwood, it’s no wonder the Fateless One storms into Dead Kel’s shipyard and… Well, I really can’t reveal that to you. But you get the point.
This pirate-themed DLC loves its “Arrs,” but there’s plenty of buckle to be swashed if players are looking for a decent sized expansion to an already adventurous romp through a land of fantasy and astronomical handlebar mustaches. Mark these words: if you loved KoA: Reckoning, then you won’t have a problem with setting a couple days aside to explore Gallows End. Beware if you were never a fan of Reckoning. Then again, if you weren’t, you shouldn’t have bought the DLC.
Salvatore’s writing makes for a great mystery in main questline. Gallows End is nice and big with many areas to explore.
Want to go back to Rathir or elsewhere? Too bad, you’re stuck until you reach the end of the main questline. There’s a lot of sidequests, but not enough variation.
The DLC is currently available on Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network.
With an ESRB rating of M and a PEGI rating of 18, it’s nice to know the alphabet has our back with placing the letter N next to O.