Bethesda and Arkane Studios delivered one of the best games of 2012 with Dishonored. You can read my original review right here to see why I thought it was so fantastic, but suffice it to say that the world, atmosphere, characters, gameplay and in some parts the story all combined to create an original and engaging experience that provided me with one of my favorite games from last year. With the release of Knife of Dunwall, the game's first true story-based DLC, they're hoping to expand that world and let us look over the dilapidated streets of Dunwall with a new perspective. While it stays true to the base game and remains extremely fun, it ends up feeling like they cut it in half in order to release the second piece later this year. That's probably because that's literally exactly what happened.
Knife of Dunwall begins by placing the player in the role of Daud right from the start - beginning with the assassination of the empress. Unlike his usual targets, Daud feels regret and has remorse for what he did. From this point the Outsider sends you on a hunt to uncover some mysteries and flesh out the lore of the world a bit more, but it ends up feeling a bit disjointed.
At the end of the DLC, it doesn't really feel like you've learned much more worth knowing and the conclusion is even more abrupt and lackluster than the original game. It's clearly set up to continue the tale with the final bit of DLC, but more closure would have been nice to wrap up this as a singular experience at the very least. Generally, it would have been well-served to include more insight and commentary from Daud himself, as it starts out extremely strong. By the time missions begin however, you forget that you're playing as a voiced protagonist with remorse and it starts to feel like the same old Dishonored after a short while.
Thankfully though, the two new areas (Slaughterhouse and Legal District) are just as diverse and enticing as the areas in the base game. Each mission has multiple paths and routes to take, complete with choices and variations in their conclusion. I never felt like I was playing a piece of add-on content, I felt like it was a seamlessly added extension of the game itself, which is a great thing for story-based DLC to nail.
There are enough small variations to remind you of your character in terms of gameplay, such as the wrist-bound crossbow, blink's new feature that freezes time (even in mid-air!) and the new ability to summon assassin's. They can be summoned on-command and on-location to slit throats for you while you remain in the shadows or if you just need an ally in a scrap. A few other additions and changes are enough to keep things fresh to last the roughly 4-hours of content you'll get with this package.
Knife of Dunwall is a nice addition to an already excellent game. The DLC is clearly designed as the first-half of a larger side-story, but it's still fun and engaging for what it is. At $10 you get a good chunk of content, which is great for a singleplayer story-based game. If you're hungry for more Dishonored, I definitely recommend picking up Knife of Dunwall. However, you may be best served waiting until the next portion releases so you can experience the entire story at once.
Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below! Do you prefer playing as Daud or Corvo? Also, check out the gameplay from the first mission above!
This review is based on a digital download copy of the DLC for PC provided by Bethesda.