The bizarre story of magic infused whales and steampunk assassins continues in Arkane Studio’s downloadable content for Dishonored with the game’s first storyline expansion pack, The Knife of Dunwall. While priced to sell at $10, is it worth your time and energy?
Back to Dunwall
Dishonored’s: The Knife of Dunwall DLC is a storyline that runs parallel to the story of the game’s main protagonist, Corvo Attano. Following the footsteps of Dunwall’s Assassin King, Daud, the game takes place almost simultaneously with the events of the original Dishonored, complete with a scene showing Daud and his men murdering the Empress and stealing away with her daughter Emily. While Corvo is breaking out of prison from being wrongfully accused of assassinating the Empress, Daud, the man who sets Corvo up to take the murder rap feels remorse for the killing.
Following the assassination and Daud’s realization he has been used by the new Lord Regent, Daud is visited by the mysterious deity known as The Outsider; the tricksome deity informs Daud that his days are numbered, but if he truly is looking for redemption, he has to follow the bizarre clues The Outsider gives him. This leads Daud across a merry chase through Dunwall trying to figure out what The Outsider is trying to tell him through his riddles.
Does the story hold up in The Knife of Dunwall DLC? Not in the least. Daud, voiced by Michael Madsen in Dishonored makes a return for The Knife of Dunwall, to fill out plot line to get you back up to speed with the situation in Dunwall if you haven’t played Dishonored in awhile. The story doesn’t explain itself very well, introducing a new character and series of events that ends up asking more questions than it answers with one of the more vexing endings I’ve had in a game in some time. Why did I just spend the last few hours running around Dunwall and murdering dozens of guards? Sure, I offed some bad people in the process, but to what end? The final chapter of The Knife of Dunwall seems to have nothing to do with anything; Daud could have had the same thing happen to him if he would have sat directly on his ass back at his base. Expect to watch the end credits fully scratching your head angrily.
Corvo vs. Daud?
What is the difference between how Daud and Corvo play in The Knife of Dunwall? Playing the original Dishonored, you felt compelled to play it stealthily and generally try to play nice. However, playing as Daud in The Knife of Dunwall, the game seems to point you towards playing dirty. The assassins aren’t exactly a friendly lot and are more likely to ask you why you spared someone’s life or didn’t murder a guard in a section of town. Corvo’s “Devouring Storm” rat assault is replaced by Daud’s ability to “Summon Assassin”, which allows you to have another assassin pop in like you would in the Assassin’s Creed games. Just point at a location and poof: instant ally. Having not put the proper skill upgrades into the ability, the assassin seems to be more of a distraction to a group of guards as opposed to a real asset. However, that literally is the only difference between the two characters in gameplay. Besides having Michael Madsen interject a line or two and his “Summon Assassin” ability, there is absolutely no difference between playing the two characters; if someone handed you a controller and asked you to play the game for ten minutes without allowing you to see the powers menu, you’d have no way to determine if you were playing as Corvo or Daud. Personally, I found that a good thing as I enjoyed the gameplay in Dishonored, I was happy that not a lot changed.
Length of the Blade?
The Knife of Dunwall consists of three new missions, but one of the missions takes place at Daud’s hideout from the original Dishonored, an area you are likely intimately familiar with already. If you play through trying to sneak around and keep from raising alarms, the DLC could last quite awhile. However, if you’re playing like a madman throwing grenades and stabbing guards, don’t expect this new content to hold your attention for long with only two new areas to explore. The game does keep a top tier difficulty locked that you can unlock through completing a playthrough, and of course, like the original, keeps tabs on your chaos level (if you’re murdering everyone or sneaking through areas to assassinate your target) allowing for two different endings, so it might warrant a second playthrough.
More of the Good Ol’ Same
As someone who loved the original Dishonored, I was mildly disappointed in The Knife of Dunwall DLC, much like an honor student would be mad at only getting a B+ on a test. Not because The Knife of Dunwall was bad in any way; in fact, I wanted more. If you enjoyed the original Dishonored, this is certainly a great excuse to jump back into Dunwall to sneak around looking for hidden loot and secluded pathways. I could have gone through another 10 or so missions as Daud in his search for redemption for murdering the Empress. But the way the game tells its limited story hurt the experience badly and the ending comes at you like a Mack truck. You’re expecting there to be another chapter or two explaining the new character that Daud meets along the way, but instead, the game just ends with a final cutscene after a mission where it seems that the story is just hitting its stride and rolls credits.
Really what it comes down to is the The Knife of Dunwall DLC is priced perfectly for what it is; an after dinner mint following a nice gourmet meal. However, I was hoping for a more robust experience, and the DLC just left me wanting more. As Dishonored was my Game of the Year last year, anything that expands that experience is a win for me. If you enjoyed Dishonored, you’ll enjoy the DLC. If not, there is nothing new here for you.