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Apr 22 2013

Review of Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall

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We happened to really like Dishonored around here, sure it had some problems, but few games have built such strong worlds right out the gate. A deep mythology built upon themes and a setting that are unique to video games in a way all their own. That’s why I know I was excited to see this new bit of story content finally come out and see that it focused on a character that was woefully under-developed. So while we may have learned how Daud’s journey ends in Dishonored, lets see how he got there. Also, and I assume this is implied but I don’t want any pissy comments, HERE BE DISHONORED SPOILERS!

yeah, try parrying that shit.

Yeah, try parrying that shit.

So for those who don’t remember, Daud is the one who murders Empress Jessamine at the very start of Dishonored and is killed in his base by Corvo when Corvo is escaping from the Flooded District after being betrayed. You never really learn much about him aside from the fact that he heads up an assassin’s guild known as “The Whalers” and that he’s a grizzled badass with the same powers you have. The Knife of Dunwall though looks to grow his character a bit and tell a story of redemption/destruction that actually runs concurrent to the events of Dishonored. The idea is that while the murder of the Empress was supposed to be just a job like any other, there was a lingering doubt left in Daud’s mind about the whole thing, guilt, something uncommon for a master assassin. Six months later he finds out he was right as the Outsider summons him to his realm and basically says “yup, you done fucked up good” and tells him that in order to redeem himself, he must find Delilah. That’s all he gives you, a name, and from there an investigation and unsurprisingly a lot of murder takes place. It’s a decent story, maybe not as strong as the core narrative from Dishonored, but it does offer the big thing I went in looking for, more lore and world building in the the Dishonored universe. Hell, the first level covers the thing I wanted to know most about, the mysterious industry that catches and butchers the massive magical whales whose oil makes the city of Dunwall tick. You even get to see one of the beasts up close which is a treat. Add onto that the complex terror that their hulking circular saw wielding butchers represent as they walk down the halls of a massive blood soaked abattoir merrily singing sea shanties that are disturbingly distorted by the heavy masks they wear and you get exactly the kind of depth you’d expect out of a piece of Dishonored content.

Story Schmory, you get to summon magic ninja assassins!

Story Schmory, you get to summon magic ninja assassins!

That first level is definitely the highlight of the whole package though; the second level is the financial district which is new but looks much like areas in the main game, and the third and final level is a retread of the flooded district which, assuming you’ve played through most of the main game, you’ve seen. I think the layout of that final level might be a little different than it was in the main game but not to the point that it feels much different. This makes for an ok runtime (4-5 hours or so depending on how long you spend faffing about) though it feels like half a story, that’s mainly cause it is though. You see this pack is just the first half of Daud’s story, with the conclusion being the upcoming Witches of Brigmore pack. While I get why they would split it up, it does make this feel like an incomplete experience and I think I would have rather preferred they’d combined this with the upcoming Witches pack and made it a full $20 expansion rather than a $10 DLC pack.

Well, not every new weapon is non-lethal...

Well, not every new weapon is non-lethal…

Thankfully it’s not all about story though, you get a lot of new tricks to play around with as Daud and a lot of the old tricks have been altered to fit his style. A great example of this is the blink skill that let you teleport around at will; in the main game it was just an aim and shoot sort of thing but in Knife when you’re aiming your jump, time will slow to a crawl as long as you’re standing still, allowing you to carefully pick your jumps and get exactly where you need. It’s a minor thing but it showcases Daud’s more hang back style. Another thing that plays well into this is his summon assassin skill which allows you to throw out a cohort at will to distract the enemy, fight alongside you, or just provide some banter if you’re feeling lonely. He also gets a lot more interesting non-lethal options than Corvo did such as stun mines and chokedust, which is basically just a smoke bomb but when used in conjunction with the blink skill allows for a good old classic ninja escape when you end up taking on a few more butchers than you should have. The basic experience feels just different enough to be both interesting and familiar, more importantly it’s a mix that allows for a fair degree of challenge. Even on the normal difficulty setting it can be a little rough and I can only wonder how savage the pack’s last unlockable difficulty setting happens to be.

All in all it’s a good buy, for $10 bucks you get a reasonably long piece of content with a lot of tricks up its sleeves and lore to tell. If you were a big fan of either the world of Dishonored, the action of Dishonored, or both then this pack is worth picking up; it expands upon the concepts of that universe and that gameplay really well even if the story doesn’t pay off and it does feel like just a lead up to the upcoming Witches of Brigmore DLC. Realistically though it’s the awesome atmosphere and varied gameplay you’re coming here for though and it has that in spades. So for letting me prowl the rooftops of Dunwall once again, Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

1 comment

  1. TheTraneIsASmoothRide

    Sounds like an interesting game, thanks for the the review! Perhaps I’ll download it on Steam one day.

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