DISHONORED: THE KNIFE OF DUNWALL [DLC]: I thought I ‘Daud’ a puddy tat!
With a video game landscape littered with sequels and reboots and horrendously licensed properties, it’s always a treat when original titles like Dishonored come out. And when the game is as good as Dishonored was, we gamer snobs who were just bemoaning the lack of original titles immediately proclaim with sickening levels of squee, “I can’t wait for the sequel.”
Well, there are no sequels yet, but the good folks at Bethesda have been feeding us bits of DLC to tide us over. First was a trials package, which I (and many others) skipped entirely, because I am a man of principles. While Dishonored’s gameplay is rewarding, the real draw for me was the narrative. Why would I go in for something that strips the best parts out? The second DLC, The Knife of Dunwall, is a proper expansion in the sense that it puts you back in the immersive world of the pseudo-Victorian steampunk whaling town of Dunwall. It’s certainly not without it’s flaws, but those are for the most part forgivable as you devour this storyline like a plate of jellied eels.
-Paging Raymond Chandler….
The Knife of Dunwall is framed almost like an old hardboiled detective story, with the main character (the assassin Daud takes the place of Corvo here) narrating the cutscenes between missions. Great, because it sets the tone of this apart from the main game, but it also paves the way for a fair amount of cognitive dissonance as the story progresses.
The story begins the same as the original game with the death of the Empress, only we see it through Daud’s eyes (cue Depeche Mode video). From there, Daud is visited by The Outsider (Dunwall’s emo Jesus hands out questionable advice and Jedi powers) who sets him off to find a mysterious figure named Delilah because…well, just because. Without any real information of use, ‘Sider sends Daud out into Da Wall while our friend Corvo bounces about town killing and/or aggressively hugging folks into unconsciousness.
-Back in town….
Players get to visit both new and old locations in the delightfully undelightful city of Dunwall. Some things have changed, some things haven’t. For example, no one in town is capable of looking up in the slightest unless something is thrown at them.
This bit of AI was my biggest problem with the original Dishonored. Sitting on top of a streetlight in the middle of the day should not ever constitute hiding, yet in Dunwall, the average height of city guards is 5’9” and no one can see anything above 5’10”. One might point out that something like that is a mild gripe at best, to which I say “exactly.”
Dishonored is that sheet.
Some things, however, have changed. Daud has a different set of skills than Corvo. The one thing he has in common with him are the Dark Vision (Daud calls his Void Gaze because he’s the bad guy, dammit, and he’s not going to go around letting goody two-shoes Corvo be more metal than him) and Blink. Blink gets what initially seems like a minor tweek here, but after an hour or so of using it, you’ll be furious that you didn’t have it in the original. In Knife of Dunwall, time freezes while you aim your Blink, so long as you aren’t walking or running at the time. Time will also freeze for your aim if you are falling, which is.. to quote the Clipse.. kind of a big deal. Despite new difficulty levels, new gadgets and new locations to explore, this one minor adjustment to Blink feels like the greatest addition the DLC.
-Bad guy, or less bad guy….
The chaos ratings are back for this, but they seem out of place. Daud is the bad guy. He killed the Empress and was none too nice to Corvo during the main campaign. Even he is surprised if you let him live after your final meeting with him. With that in mind, why should chaos matter? I get that the story is setting him up to be a conflicted and somewhat sympathetic character, but he never calls off the dogs in the main story. He and his assassins (who look an awful lot like the ghosts in Fallout New Vegas Dead Money) make things unpleasant for everyone throughout the main game, but I’m supposed to believe that big bad Daud is going to stop his rampant dickery long enough to grant a whale a mercy killing? (Not a spoiler, peeps.)
-Every story has a beginning, middle and… wait, what?!
Knife of Dunwall consists of three missions. Each are fairly meaty and there’s no complaints of length for the DLC. It doesn’t however come to a jarring halt, especially if one is not aware that another DLC is coming to wrap it up. Actually, the ending — hey, just like the initial game itself! — is a letdown even with that knowledge. More than anything else, it feels like The Outsider got his drink on like that other “Outsider” Scott Hall and missed his cue, breaking in during the middle of a tense scene to deliver his post-game wrap up.
While we should be comforted that the story will be picked up in the next DLC, far too many of us are still waiting on Half Life 2: Episode 3 to take any such thing for granted.
Irregardless, Knife is certainly a worthy DLC to a worthy game. If poorly-executed cliffhanger endings bug you, wait for the next installment to come out before you grab this one for 10 bones. Otherwise, stop reading this and get two it, maties.