Warning: This article contains spoilers. I would, however, appreciate if you did not spoil anything beyond the point of the game that I discuss.

Areas spoiled: The Circle Tower

Previous articles: 1, 2, 3, 4

Play time over the past couple of weeks has been limited, however I was recently able to get Fiona through the entire Mage Tower story line. It helps that this particular segment of the plot was a heck of a lot shorter than the Redcliffe story arc. In total I spent five hours liberating the Circle, which brings my total time played up to twenty-seven hours.

Since I’ve complained about gearing for my mages in the past, it is worth pointing out that the Mage Tower gave me a lot of opportunity to re-outfit both my main character and Morrigan. I broke down and put helms on both of them, although I feel they look utterly ridiculous; you can’t argue with the stats though. One thing I will not do is change Morrigan’s robes away from the set that she came with; some lines are not meant to be crossed!

My starting party was Fiona, Morrigan, Leliana, and Alistair.

Random thoughts and observations, as always, follow.

On the Lower Floors

- Upon arriving at Lake Calenhad Docks and bullying my way onto the island and into the Circle Tower I encountered Gregoir, the Templar-Commander who I pissed off so badly when I helped Jowan during my origins story. My loathing for the man was quickly replaced with pity as I realized that he was a sniveling whiner, just like Alistair. Perhaps this cry baby attitude is fostered in the ranks of the Templars? Or maybe it’s a side affect of lyrium addiction.

- Seeing that the Templars were beyond useless, I decided to take matters into my own hands and search for surviving mages myself. It wasn’t long before I stumbled across Wynne and, without realizing what I was doing, accepted her offer of help. The game immediately forced me to bench another party member, and in disgust I chose Morrigan. I hadn’t wanted a healer for my play through and have specifically avoided giving either of my mages restorative spells.

- The summoning puzzle(s) were simple and tedious. In doing them I got annoyed with having to open my codex over and over again to figure out what to do – I couldn’t seem to locate a hotkey or setting to take me straight to the information.

- Somewhere along the way I fought a group of blood mages, and when I was presented the opportunity to spare the life of one of them, I did so. I still have a soft spot for all magic users. Despite pitching a royal fit the last time that I showed friendly inclinations towards a blood mage, Alistair remained silent this time. Maybe he’s gotten used to me flaunting his wishes.

- The sense of heightened corruption with each new room in the Circle Tower was really well done. The changes were subtle at first, but by the end were gloriously grotesque.

Trying to convince Alistair to leave the Fade

On the Fade

- The encounter with the sloth demon was downright creepy, and instead of an epic battle I was surprised to find myself enthralled and alone in a section of the Fade. Nice twist.

- It didn’t take long to figure out how obscenely overpowered the mage I’ve built is – the ability to pop off Cone of Cold, Paralysis, Horror, Sleep, and Mass Paralysis all in rapid fire sequence (if necessary) is disgusting. Despite fighting solo for much of the Fade, I only every had to engage a single enemy at a time…. and it was usually immobilized. I’m surprised how well my crowd control build turned out.

- Swapping staves on the fly proved to be very useful. Demons in the fade are susceptible to either fire or ice attacks, and resistant to the opposite element.

- Cone of Cold followed by Stonefist is ridiculous. I can one-shot anything aside from a named elite or boss.

- I heard a few complaints about the Fade sequence on the last episode of The Combobulater, however I found the details that the host was annoyed with to be overstated. Particularly, Emeny had railed against the shape changing, claiming that it took a few seconds to swap forms. In truth it took at most one second to shift, which was more than acceptable. Personally I think the entire section was well done, and a lot of fun.

- The final battle against the Sloth demon in the center of the Fade was somewhat confusing. The demon died a number of times and then immediately resurrected in a one of two different forms. When I finally killed him I was beginning to wonder if I was doing something wrong because he kept respawning. The entire fight was trivialized by the two lyrium veins in the middle of the arena that allowed me to periodically refresh my mana.

Fighting an Ogre in the Fade

On the Upper Floors

- Upon escaping the fade I went back to killing a mix of blood mages and demons room by room in the Tower. Aside from one encounter with a slavering corpse and an Arcane Horror I made it through without dying. That damned horror killed me a good three times though.

- The encounter with Templar Cullen was awkward. He’s the guy who had hit on my character within five minutes of the game starting, and he gushed about his emotions to me from behind a demon’s force field.

- Somewhere near the top of the tower it struck me that this entire plot arc was very reminiscent of a Harry potter novel. An order of mages infiltrated by practitioners of dark magic who decide to revolt? Hmmm…..

- The Harry Potter parallels were hammered home when I encountered Uldred. Not only does the man sound like Serverus Snape, but he looks a hell of a lot like Voldemort! The fact that he was torturing First Enchanter Irving didn’t do anything to dispel the effect.

- Upon completing the main tower quest line I told Wynne to stay with the tower, and had Morrigan rejoin my party. My healer-less journey can now continue unimpeded!

- I never solved the ‘Watchguard of the Reaching’ side quest in the tower. Although I thought I knew the order to click the statues in the Grand Hall, I could never get it to work. Owain, who is mentioned in the codex entries that support the quest, is curiously missing after the Circle Tower is cleansed and so I’m wondering if hunting him down is a key to the puzzle. I could look the solution up in a FAQ, but I’ve resolved not to do anything like that.

Advanced corruption in the Circle Tower

Next up: some side quests and then the Brecilian Forest. I’d also love to locate Jowan, who the Arl of Redcliffe had allegedly shipped off to the Circle Tower.

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