The Heart Of An Assassin
Dishonored fans that were disappointed by Dunwall City Trials can’t be blamed for feeling skeptical towards the game’s second DLC pack, The Knife of Dunwall. I’m happy to report that this time we’re getting a real expansion to Dishonored’s campaign, rather than a mini-game compilation. If you loved playing Dishonored, this is the DLC you’ve been waiting for.
The Knife of Dunwall takes place during the early parts of Corvo’s adventure. Players step into the shoes of Daud, the man who assassinates the Empress and helps frame Corvo Attano for the crime. The first thing I noticed when playing the game is that Daud is not a silent protagonist. This helps in making the transition to playing as the darker assassin easier. Daud needs to speak; if we didn’t hear him immediately express regret at having killed the Empress, he would be a difficult protagonist to sympathize with.
The DLC is composed of three full-length missions. These missions begin when the mysterious Outsider summons Daud and places him on the trail of a name, “Delilah.” Daud trails the Delilah mystery through all three parts of the DLC. Impressively, two of these parts take place in never before seen locations in Dunwall.
The two new areas look small when compared to the mission areas of the main game. I didn’t mind this, though, because the detail the developers put into the little things kept me engaged all the way through the levels. Each of the new areas also features a lot of choice; many paths make up the roads leading to the assassinations. The biggest disappointment with of the three DLC missions came from the third level of the game. Knife’s final mission takes place in one of the uninspired levels of the original game. Despite the third wheel, Dishonored’s new DLC delivers with two new, exciting, well-crafted areas.
Just as in the main game, taking time to explore each level yields many rewards. Daud can stumble across new lore, treasures, and blueprints during his adventure. Also, you can listen in on NPC conversations while exploring each level. These conversations give the player a deeper insight into Dunwall. Hearing someone comment about the actions of Corvo Attano, actions you experienced firsthand in the main game, helps bring this fantasy world to life.
Arkane succeeds with many things in the DLC besides just level design: they also made the smart decision to focus on human enemies. You won’t find any Weepers, rat swarms, or (thank God) Krusts during your playthrough. Facing down a human enemy carries with it a gravitas that fits the darker storyline of the DLC well.
Much of the gameplay in Knife of Dunwall leans towards a more visceral and violent atmosphere. Arkane nerfed Daud’s magic in favor of more direct violence. Daud’s Wrist Bolt, Chokedust, and Stun Mines direct the player towards having to get his hands dirty. Instead of Corvo’s useful Posession spell, Daud has the ability to summon his loyal assassins to slit the throats of enemies. I like that the gameplay adjusts to fit the new protagonist; Daud’s direct fighting style matches his brutal past.
Daud, like Corvo, will have a choice in how he reaches his goal. Either he can kill everyone that stands between him and his target, or he can try to find a less violent path. Whether Daud chooses to seek redemption for his past or slips further into darkness is entirely up to the player. Completing the new DLC without killing anyone, however, will frustrate even the most hardcore gamer. It fits that redeeming the tainted assassin Daud cannot be achieved without blood, sweat, and a lot of tears.
The Knife of Dunwall will please any Dishonored fan. Although playing as Daud might seem a strange choice, his complex life lends itself to an interesting narrative. This interesting narrative offers new insights into the city of Dunwall and one of the original game’s most unsympathetic characters. I highly recommend The Knife of Dunwall to anyone who enjoyed Dishonored.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.7 Graphics
The first two missions use graphics to show off the heights of decadence and depths of violence that make up Dunwall. 4.5 Control
Daud’s new toys control even better than Corvo’s did. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The same quality as the main game, with the added improvement of solid voice acting for Daud. 3.5 Play Value
Thorough players should get a decent amount of gameplay out of the new missions, especially the first two. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best