By Tom Hooper aka Atomp
It’s no mystery that I enjoyed vanilla Dishonored a great deal and the opportunity offered by DLC to explore the world of Dunwall yet further was something that I could not miss out on. The first DLC released was essentially a mission pack of challenges, I will not cover this as despite it adding some content for those that like clean scores and gaming levels, it’s not very story driven. Instead I will cover The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, two DLCs that are both a part of the same story; Daud’s story. Daud has a role in vanilla Dishonored however his story is never fully uncovered, only small hints. The big important elements are dropped though, such as Daud being a master assassin and leading a group of similarly employed individuals. Most importantly revealed in the original is Daud’s rather special abilities which point rather nicely to involvement of one Mr. Outsider. This instantly makes Daud an amazing character for a DLC. It’s worth noting though that the type of story telling here is different to the vanilla game in that Daud is a fleshed out character already compared to the blank slate that was Corvo. There is therefore a difference in play style especially in choosing between lethal and non-lethal, although the difference may be no more than realigning your own stance on Daud as a character. It’s different yet still good and that should be applauded.
The gameplay is much as it was in the vanilla game only with a lick of paint here and there. The blink will now pause time during the targeting phase which seems to have been in response to the eventual player habit of integrating blink into jumping movement. This is a nice touch and whilst I wasn’t a fan from the get go, the alteration certainly grew on me. There are a variety of other changes to the powers, with some remaining relatively untouched and others seeing major changes or complete replacement. Nothing that has been changed actually takes away from the overall experience, in fact in many places it is superior to the vanilla game. Equipment has also seen a change as new types of grenade, mine and more have been added to deal with the enemy in whatever creative manner is available.
These changes often reflect an alteration in level design as the length of the overall story is shorter and yet a similar amount of powers and difficulty need to be included, the overall level density has increased significantly. There are more enemies and more loot, which ramps up the difficulty to a degree and makes exploring more rewarding/necessary than in the vanilla game. The same choices between lethal/non-lethal and stealth/non-stealth exist and are given an extra layer of depth thanks to the densely packed levels. Personally my first playthrough was a sneaky non-lethal as I relish the challenges of both whilst enjoying how those choices developed Daud as a character.
My main gripe would be the length and content of some of the levels, although this is not a major gripe. There are some reused levels and one or two are a little on the small side. This could be down to it being DLC, or it could be an extension of the overall Dishonored structure where quality outshines quantity, I’ll put it down to a little of both. Even in the reused levels there was enough of a distinction in scenarios that it remained enjoyable, with one even employing a brand new mechanic in order to distinguish this from its first time out. Overall the course of the two DLCs proved very satisfying gameplay-wise with enough of a gap present that it really feels like a step on from the vanilla game whilst also being a step towards whatever the next iteration may hold.
Graphically the game is much as the vanilla game was, there is little change to the overall aesthetic, which is fine by me as it looked good. Some levels mix up the colouring a bit, bringing some welcome foliage into play with the subsequent colours. The design remains a strong point for the game and the levels look and feel just right for Dunwall. The aesthetic is let down in places by poor texture quality however when designing cross-platform for old consoles this is somewhat inevitable, I just wish Arcane could include a texture pack for non-prehistoric hardware. Sound and music design follow many if not all of the same cues as in the vanilla game, and can’t be criticised for that.
The DLC is available through Steam and probably whatever console shoppy is available to you. On PC it’s Windows only, as is the vanilla game so it’s hardly surprising. The DLCs are available from Steam for £8 (approx $12.66) each, which is pretty reasonable and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on sale in December, so keep an eye out for that. If you’ve never played Dishonored then read my review and try the game, then decide on the DLC however if you’ve finished and enjoyed Dishonored then I heartily recommend looking at the DLC as it’s great and well worth your cash and attention.
The Knife of Dunwall Steam Page:
The Witches of Brigmore Steam Page: