Dishonored: Knife of Dunwall DLC Review: Sneaky and Delightful
Warning! This review includes spoilers to the plot of Dishonored (which should be extremely obvious by now). If you haven’t finished the game, you shouldn’t be reading this review of its DLC. What’s wrong with you, honestly.
My favorite part of playing through Dishonored (and, I suspect, most everyone’s) was the encounter with Daud.
Leader of the assassins group known as the Whalers who wore gas masks to hide their faces, Daud was the man who killed the empress at the beginning of the game and possessed supernatural powers akin to the player’s — and he was something of a forlorn, shattered character, a man for whom the weight of his actions had finally become too crushing to bear.
Developer Arkane Studios revisits the city of Dunwall in its first story-driven DLC pack, “The Knife of Dunwall,” and rather than looking back into what happened to protagonist character Corvo, the DLC lets us get Daud’s perspective on events — a great move in returning us to the city, but this time as a bad guy with a network of assassins at our back. The mechanics are familiar but altered enough to make the DLC feel fresh for seasoned Dishonored veterans, and the whole experience adds to our understanding of the story and of Dunwall without retreading too much of the same ground.
While its story winds up a bit anemic and ends dead-center in the middle of the action (there’s a second DLC pack coming that will wrap up Daud’s story), The Knife of Dunwall lets us play with most of Dishonored’s toys again, with a little something new and another series of great levels and interesting mechanics. If you liked Dishonored the first time out, you should enjoy it again, because The Knife of Dunwall has lots to offer.
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Arkane Studioo
Released: April 16, 2013
When we met Daud in Dishonored, he was conflicted over killing the empress, which feels to him as if he’s condemned Dunwall to its death by plague. Years of blood cover his hands from his work as an assassin, but with the death of the empress, Daud is feeling regret he’s never experienced. It’s in this state that The Outsider, that mythological devil-figure from Dishonored’s lore, visits Daud and puts him on the trail of the name “Delilah,” in events that are apparently taking place in parallel to Corvo’s story in the main game — and seemingly culminating in the fight between Corvo and Daud.
What the deal is with Delilah, we don’t know, and never really find out by the end of The Knife of Dunwall, which is a shame. The expansion is simultaneously too thin on story and burdened with an over-abundance of it, just as Dishonored itself often is. The main plot includes little information, with Daud running around, learning new things from people either by threatening them or doing favors for them, all of which amount to stabbing folks or somehow neutralizing them with a non-lethal solution.
But if you’re willing to wander around every level and really dig into the world, then The Knife of Dunwall will be an impressive, borderline-staggering piece of DLC. Though it spans only three missions, I dumped nearly nine hours into my playthrough, finding every secret in each stage, hitting all the side objectives, and reading all the books and overhearing a great deal of side-conversations. There’s a huge amount of content here that really fleshes out the rest of the world, and if you’re interested in Dunwall, there’s plenty to learn about Daud and his operation, as well as about the whaling economy and a few of the characters from the main game, such as Dr. Sokolov.
From a gameplay standpoint, though, you really don’t need to spend that long, and if you play Knife of Dunwall with an eye toward killing everyone using magic, you’ll likely sprint through it pretty quickly (which was also an issue with the main game). Daud has many of the same powers as Corvo, but with a little bit of remixing to add variety and challenge. The utility of Blink has been increased, for a start: The teleportation power now comes with a time-freeze while you’re aiming it, which allows you to actually use it in mid-air after a jump or during a fall. It also makes it much more effective in sneaking.