The Knife of Dunwall DLC: Great Value for your Dollar
The Knife of Dunwall is a piece of DLC that many developers should aspire to make for their own games. Running parallel to the story of the main game you get to play as Daud, the legendary master assassin and true killer of the Empress. Knife of Dunwall presents the player with three lengthy missions: two of which are brand new environments while the third is an area revisited from Dishonored. As one of only eight people touched by the mysterious Outsider, you will also get to try a few new powers that Corvo did not have and use brand new pieces of equipment.
After a visit from the Outsider, Daud sets forth to uncover what the mysterious being had meant of his fate and the only clue he has is a name. For the first time you will not be out there working alone. While not playing an active role in the gameplay, you will be intermittently visited by one of Daud's senior lieutenants who will scout ahead, brief you before each mission and offer her own perspective on the situation. It's a nice addition to be able to talk to someone for once and the cool effect of seeing someone Blink away never gets old. Since the entirety of the action takes place across three missions, the DLC packs each of these areas with a lot more side objectives than the core game, which was a lot more single minded in it's approach to the end goal. Although it is not always quite clear what the purpose these side objectives is, as you don't seem to get upgrade relics or talismans for completing them, they are still there nonetheless and are often a challenge to complete. Fans of the main game will be glad to know that Knife of Dunwall continues the trend of offering players a chance to eliminate their targets in creative and indirect ways without ever having to get your blade dirty. The challenge of beating all three missions without alerting or killing anyone is also still present.
The powers sadly are a bit of a miss and a tad lacking. You lose a few very useful abilities that Corvo had without gaining similar replacements. The rat plague, windblast and possession are all missing from Daud's repertoire of tricks. In turn the one new power and enhancement you get are linked to one another and don't seem especially useful in comparison. Being the Master Assassin Daud has the ability to summon an assassin to aid him in combat, but even if directed at an unsuspecting guard the assassin will engage him in a sword duel rather than quietly taking him out from behind, which makes it a useless ability if you're trying to sneak by undetected. The one new enhancement you get will bestow more power to your summoned assassin eventually letting them fight alongside you even when you completely freeze time. That said the lack of creative new abilities can almost entirely be forgiven because Daud's Blink will now freeze time when you initiate it. This is a crucial upgrade and one that I wished the original game had as it now adds a lot more versatility to one of the most commonly used abilities in the game. In addition to powers Daud makes use of a wrist mounted crossbow that can be used simultaneously with your sword. There is also a new mine type and gas grenades that stun your enemies allowing a non lethal approach.
Something that could have also been handled better was the distribution of upgrade points. Perhaps because Daud only has 4 powers as compared to Corvo's 6, you start the game with only two basic abilities. Not only is it a bit jarring to finish the main campaign with a fully loaded out Corvo and suddenly be thrust back into these beautiful, huge new environments with only level 1 blink - but from the narrative side it also makes no sense that Daud who has carried the mark of the Outsider for much longer than Corvo would be so lacking. It feels like a step back to have to earn back all your abilities again and you'll have to make hard choices whether you want to invest into the new powers or upgrade the true and tested ones from the past.
That said, those are quite insignificant complaints in the grand scheme of things and The Knife of Dunwall is an excellent piece of DLC that truly gives you a bang for your buck. The two brand new areas took me roughly 5 hours to play through when completing every side objective and searching for new talismans and relics - then you still have the third mission which while the weakest of the three is still interesting in restrospect and will add at least 1 more hour to the game clock. The story does end abruptly without even beginning to answer any of the questions it posed at the outset, but that doesn't stop your time spent stalking unsuspecting Overseers from being any less engaging. If you have a hankering for more Dishonored and were looking for something with a bit more narrative than the Dunwall City Trials expansion, then Knife of Dunwall is going to scratch that itch perfectly. I highly recommend it.