It’s been about six months since Dishonored came out, and while we were promised DLC, all we’ve gotten until now has been a series of challenges that did nothing to expand the lore. Sure, they were fun and all, but we wanted a deeper experience.
Finally, The Knife of Dunwall is out. Set parallel to the events of the main game, KoD tells the story of the master assassin Daud. You may remember him as the man who killed the empress, which was the event that started the whole thing into motion. Six months later, Daud is haunted by nightmares over the decision to accept that contract. This torment has drawn the attention of The Outsider, the mysterious entity that grants powers to those he deems â€œinterestingâ€. The Outsider has decided that Daud is interesting once more, and guides him to completing one last quest, that of finding out about the name â€œDelilahâ€. Armed only with that name, Daud gets to work.
This is the first part of a planned two part DLC story. It shows. The story ends abruptly and without warning, resolving nothing but a subplot involving a new character. It’s disappointing, and the arc of said new character is beyond predictable. She’ll simply perform different actions based on whether you’re in high or low chaos.
KoD takes place over three levels that flow directly into each other. Two of these are new locations, while the third is a portion of chapter nine (Daud’s base) from the main game. There’s no hub to gather your thoughts and supplies. Instead, you’ll be able to buy ammo, potions, and upgrades at the start of each level. You’ll also be able to buy favors, which give you bonuses for the upcoming mission. For example, a small bit of coin might put an extra rune on the map, or disable some alarms. These only exist for the first two missions, but it’s a nifty idea that shows some merit.
Like the main game, KoD is all about freedom to complete your mission however you see fit. Each level has lethal and nonlethal paths for you to take. The story has two different endings to unlock as well, giving you incentive to try the game out multiple ways. The levels are also designed with choices in mind. For one building, you can use a top floor balcony, enter through the basement, or walk brazenly through the front door. Either path puts you in a sticky situation that must be resolved. Also, as always, you can use stealth to whatever degree you prefer, or go more directly if bloodshed is your thing. My first playthrough, I gladly took kills where I could get them, and spared no one that got in my way. The second time around, I stayed glued to the shadows and struck only when I knew my target was vulnerable. Both playthroughs were wildly different, yet equally enjoyable. They also took me to different paths, giving me a larger view of the level I was in.
Daud has some new toys to play with. For starters, he can use bag of â€œchokedustâ€ to disorient enemies. This is a great new nonlethal tool for getting out of a tight jam. This is the kind of thing the main game needed to augment the sleep darts. Daud also gets an arc mine, which replaces the spring razor mine. It pretty much works the same, but disintegrates the opponent rather than slicing them to bits. As for powers, Daud has a couple of new ones as well. Firstly, he can summon an assassin to fight alongside him, which is cool. There’s also a passive ability you can unlock to grant that assassin some of your powers, making them more deadly. There’s also â€œvoid gazeâ€, which serves as a combination of the dark vision ability and the heart charm from the main game. These new toys come at a cost though. Possession, rat swarm, and wind blast didn’t make it over from Corvo’s arsenal to Daud’s. The latter two would be acceptable, but the lack of possession takes a lot of the freedom out of the game. You can’t possess rats to go through a tunnel, or take over a guard to get through a gate undetected. It’s kind of depressing, really. Possession was the best ability after blink.
Playing through the game will take around two to three hours, depending on how you want to tackle each mission. Of course, once you know the lay of the land, you can cut that time down dramatically, to the point where drawn out sections need only take a moment or two to complete. Still, there’s a high level of replay value here in simply trying out different paths. There’s also an extra tough difficulty setting unlocked once you’ve beaten the game on a lower setting. Fans looking for the toughest challenge will no doubt eat that right up. It’s not a bad value at ten dollars.
Short Attention Span Summary
In the end, this DLC is a mixed bag. While it offers some great Dishonored gameplay, it lacks in the story department. While it has freedom to tackle missions however you want, you don’t have the same number of options you did before. It also feels incomplete, with the story set to be finished in a separate download later this year. For ten bucks though, it’s still worth picking up, especially if you’ve already played the main game to death and need something new.