This is DLC done right! Continue reading our The Knife of Dunwall Review to learn why you shouldn't miss it.
The Knife of Dunwall is the second DLC and the first story one for Dishonored, the epic stealth action adventure steampunk game the amazing guys over at Arkane Studios brought to us. This DLC...DLC I hate to use this slang here. This expansion (yes it feels better) tells the story of Daud, The Knife of Dunwall/Master Assassin who, as you may remember from the main storyline is the one that killed the Empress.
This expansion shows his perspective as you control him, shows his whole dishonouring process if I can say. Did he make a mistake killing the Empress? He has killed many nobles in the past, so why did this one felt different? These are the opening lines after the cutscene showing the murder of the Empress. Yes as you may have guessed, this time your character talks and the voice over work is fantastic. When I asked Mr. Harvey Smith on Raptr "What would you had done differently if the game was still on development, if there is something of course?" he replied to me "Wish we hadn't gone with the silent protagonist thing". And here it is, a character with a voice!
The game starts six months after the murder of the Empress, with Dunwall slowly going to ruin, where the plague and the corruption are eating the city from inside out and Daud is the main cause of all that. We feel that Daud is haunted by what he has done as we hear his voice/tone and we know that there's no escape from his fate, knowing how the main storyline of Dishonored went. Quoting The Outsider "Right now I see a man walking a tightrope over a sea of blood and filth. The Empress is dead, and the water is rising." Or is there a glimpse of redemption?
Once again you as the player decide. Do you want to murder everyone you see during the three missions or you want to be a ghost, getting in and out without being seen and without even touching let alone killing someone? Once again the fantastic level design allows you that. The first time I played I went and wrecked everyone and it was satisfying as hell. I highly recommend you do the same, this way you'll learn enemy positions, secret paths, secret actions and you can collect every rune and bone charms and see every power in use. The second time I went full stealth without killing anyone or being seen. Both times were satisfying as hell and it was worth seeing the different endings, the change in conversations and interactions etc. You'll definitely want to get this expansion and play it at least two times.
During the three missions Daud must find a woman Delilah which later in the game we learn that she's a witch, maybe also touched by The Outsider (wow that sounded wrong), but we don't know for sure. So during these three missions you'll find more about her, about her intentions, but in the end you will be left with even more questions, one being a big "Why?". Hopefully they'll answer this in the next three mission expansion, called Brigmore Witches, if I'm correct. So "The Knife of Dunwall" only sets the story and only give us small story bits so we can munch till the next expansion. Yes you'll want more, so much more from Daud.
Three missions, two set in brand new areas and the third one revisit a familiar location. The first one is set in a industrial zone with whale processing factory in the far end. If you slash your way, you'll get there quick, but if you use stealth, you'll have to work if you want to do it right and get all the secrets. Once you get inside the factory, you'll be greeted by a gruesome scene introducing a new enemy, the butcher, a big hulking guy holding a big circular saw used for cutting the whales, but also you. His is heavy armored in front and you can do nearly nothing to hurt him, but his back is unprotected and it's weakest point. Confronting one, let alone more, can be difficult so stealth or use of gadgets/weapons is advised. Also here in the factory you'll see how whale oil, Dunwall main source of power, is made through a gruesome process, which you can end as a side mission. This attention to details the guys at Arkane show...fantastic! The next mission is situated inside the city and you have to move across rooftops, sewers, side-roads, infiltrate into basements or jump across balconies with 20m drops in between. Again beautiful scenery, the attention to detail, the level design and the options you are offered to finish the mission, everything just perfect. The third one is set in Daud's hideout, which you may remember from the main story, but here the color palette is changed. Way more dark, way more black, which kinda make it very ugly and uninspiring. It is also the most difficult, at least for me, mission not only in the expansion, but in the whole Dishonored if you go for the ghost play. The enemies, the annoying Overseers with music boxes, the limited number of sleep darts make this hard as hell to complete in total stealth. Apart from the main mission in each area there are a number of side missions you can choose to do and I highly advise you to do. Also scattered throughout the world there are tons of book, notes and numerous conversations you can eavesdrop that add to the universe.
Luckily this time around there are some new gadgets you can play with such as stun mines and chokedust. The first one is what is sounds, a mine like the spring-razor that doesn't kill but stun and the second one is a "flashbang" bomb you toss to prevent the enemy from seeing you while you sneak for the kill of choke. Another new gadget is the arc mine, a mine that when triggered emits a powerful electric bolt that fries nearby enemies, much like the arc things (I don't remember the name) spread out in the story. The crossbow here is switched for a concealed wrist bow that fires all of the previous types of bolts and it is also used as a Assassin's Creed hidden blade on some sneak kills. The pistol also returns unchanged.
Combining all of these weapons and gadgets with the freeze time ability, can result in some amazing scenarios that you can experience only in a game like Dishonored. So the freeze time comes back, what else? Daud is not Corvo with voice, it is a new character with new powers like the one that summons an assassin or dark hand that lets you see enemies/items through the world. It also serves as the dark heart in Corvo's story, where The Outsider mark lights up, when you point at a rune or bone charm. Blink also returns, but here it is more powerful than ever. Sure it lets you teleport through the world, but it also stops the time. Imagine if you missed a jump and you are falling to your death, here you can activate Blink and the time stops and you stop in the world. Now you can change direction, aim correctly at a ledge, save yourself. It is powerful and if feel powerful. The passive abilities come back unchanged. As I said Daud is not Corvo's clone, his powers feel more powerful, Blink v2 is way more powerful than the first one, his speed and jump, he feels definitely more powerful and that's a good thing. All of these things, make it fresh and fun to play and immerse yourself once again in the amazing world of Dishonored.
So should you get The Knife of Dunwall? YES! The story isn't engaging, but it fares well into leaving you wanting more. The gameplay is fantastic, the powers, the weapons and gadget can create some of the best moments you can experience in a videogame. The artstyle and the attention to details are outstanding. The frame rate, I speak for the PS3, is steady and as far as I know, I didn't experience any glitches or bugs. The third mission could have been a lot better, but whatever! This is expansion (DLC) done right as far as I know! Now Blink your way onto Xbox Live, PSN or Steam and buy it!