Skyrim - Dragonborn Review @ Rock, Paper Shotgun
Fan service abounds, but in sweeping ways that will make Dragonborn visually exciting for new as well as lore-drunk veteran players. Mushroom forests, houses inside giant crustacean shells, even a lone (sadly static) Silt Strider: it’s like Morrowind’s greatest hits out there. Perhaps it’s a little more contrived and too evidently zoned, but it brings some of the much-needed weird back to Tamriel after two games with relatively homogeneous environments. It pleases me enormously, both as a fan of Morrowind and as a fan of seeing strange new worlds on my monitor.
The weird also makes itself known in a new Daedric realm, which the ‘main’ campaign in Dragonborn weaves in and out of. We’ve previously seen the hell-plane of Oblivion and we’ve had multiple visits to the dark prince of madness’s crazyland, but this time around we’re visiting the realm of the self-proclaimed lord of knowledge. Imagine if Cthulu ran a library, essentially. Squid-faced priest-horrors patrol impossible towers of books, while pages flutter in the air like malevolent pigeons, Giger-esque corridors rotate and contract, and gruesome tentacles swipe at you if you get too close to the slime pits all over the place. Progress through these areas is all but linear, but presented in maze-like, consciously confusing style, to the accompaniment of dramatically strange vistas. It’s very different to Skyrim as we know it, and its deeply sinister, mixed-motive ruler, Hermaeus Mora, also seems as though Bethesda’s artists have finally been allowed to takes the brakes off.
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3