At the start of Dishonored, you play as Corvo Attano, Lord Protector of the Empress. You’ve arrived home after a long journey and are met by the Empress’ loving daughter. After a few minutes of discussing your travels with the Empress, figures appear on a far rooftop, and before you know it you’re held helpless as the Empress dies. Knife of Dunwall, the new DLC for Dishonored, starts in much the same way. This time, though, you are watching the events through the eyes of Daud, the assassin that kills the Empress. The Knife of Dunwall.
The events that follow take place 6 months later in tandem with the events of the main game, though they do not correlate directly. You’re never stuck seeing the “other side” of Corvo’s missions. Daud’s story is wholly his own. This gives Knife a good excuse to explore new locales and characters not mentioned in Dishonored proper. The tail of Knife puts Daud on a quest for redemption. That quest starts with one name: Delilah.. With you is Billie Lurk, Daud’s right-hand assassin. Since you’re not fighting with a rebellion, most of your mission objectives and commentaries will come from her as you sneak through Knife’s three brief but fun missions.
Yes, there are only three missions in Knife, meaning it’ll only take two to three hours to complete even on a sneaky playthrough. Personally I didn’t find the length to be an issue except for one reason: the ending. Knife ends in an incredibly abrupt manor worthy of the Halo 2 award. It should really be called The Knife of Dunwall Part 1.
Being a side story with a new starting character afforded Knife the room to grant you with new powers and weapons. And while the potential is there, the DLC doesn’t stray too far from the original game. Your weapons and powers are for the most part counterparts to those found in the original game. For instance, in Knife you have Void Gaze instead of Dark Vision. The biggest addition to your allotment of powers is the ability to summon an assassin. On the weapon side, you have a wrist-mounted crossbow instead of the larger handheld crossbow from the main game and you get arc mines instead of spring razors.
Honestly, everything in The Knife of Dunwall is a little too similar to Dishonored. And while it’s irrational to expect sweeping changes in a game’s DLC, I continually felt like I was simply experiencing Daud’s version of Corvo’s equipment and powers. It all works perfectly fine; it’s just a little unimaginative. Likewise, in all three levels, there’s only one new enemy type and he is only in one of them.
Despite any issues I’ve mentioned with the game thus far, let me be clear that if you like Dishonored, you will like Knife of Dunwall. It’s slick, stylish and fun. The moment to moment gameplay is fully intact, with sneaking and guns-blazing both being viable play-styles. And from a graphical standpoint, Knife is still visually striking if not technically that impressive. But the cream of the crop is Michael Madsen’s performance as Daud. By the end of Knife, Daud becomes a far more compelling character than Corvo ever was; which is part of the reason the ending feels as cheap as it does.
While Knife of Dunwall provides a good excuse to revisit the city of Dunwall, it never does anything particularly interesting. There are no missions akin to Lady Boyle’s Last Party or powers quite as neat as the ability to summon rats. Every mission sticks to a strict Dishonoredness, never veering far from what the main game did. Unfortunately, Knife’s ending answers little to none of the questions that it raises in the process of getting there, making it apparent that this is only the first part of (hopefully) more expansions. Still, if you loved Dishonored as much as I did, The Knife of Dunwall is worth your time; just be prepared for more of the same and less of the extraordinary. Except for Daud. Daud’s cool.