• Story
  • Gameplay
  • Visual Design
  • Money's Worth
  • Gamus Interruptus

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Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall is the second of three DLCs for the hit stealth game Dishonored. It introduces the story of Daud, the assassin who killed Empress Jessamine Kaldwin at the beginning of the main game. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t kinda do that, but it doesn’t really do much of anything else either. I like to start with my general gut feeling of a game and work backwards to explain those feelings. My gut reaction upon finishing The Knife of Dunwall was ,”Oh. So was that it?”

Hits

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Kiss her, you fool!

Snikt. And Other Assorted Sound Effects.

The Knife of Dunwall introduces a small number of new gadgets, weapons, and powers to the game, and to its credit, they’re all rather satisfying to use. There’s an Arc Mine that electrocutes and disintegrates anyone who steps on it. There’s an exploding crossbow bolt on a slight delay that detonates a split second after impact, allowing for a sort of precision grenade. There’s a sort of smoke bomb-esque thing that can briefly incapacitate a group of enemies, giving you an opportunity to escape or turn the tables.

What few new powers KoD offers are excellent, too. The short-range Blink teleportation power has been overhauled. Now it freezes time if you aren’t pressing any movement keys when you use the power, even in midair. This allows for unprecedented maneuverability in combat and in exploration. It also allows for a nicely effective “stuff’s-getting-real-better-scarper” button. Also, since you’re the leader of a gang of assassins, you can summon one of your flunkies with a snap of your fingers. Your assassin friends are surprisingly effective in combat and excellently hilarious bait for the errant swarm of rats. (Sorry about that, Jeff.)

There weren’t any gadgets or powers that I never used, which reflects good design. Overall, the few additions that KoD makes to your assassinating arsenal are extremely effective.

You’ll find the “Hits” section somewhat shorter than typical, with ample reason.

Misses

Daud, if You Could Just Go Ahead and, Uh, Characterize? That’d Be Great.

Daud is about as interesting a character as War from DarksidersHe’s a great big brick that gets in fights. We get monotonous narration during between-mission cinematics and relative silence at most other times. The few conversations he has seem to be completely reactionary, which comes off a bit odd as the leader of a sophisticated gang of supernaturally-powered assassins.

Would it kill you to show some emotion besides cold, angsty dispassion? Yes, I do realize that you’re on a breakneck quest for redemption as the darkness bears down on you from all sides, but you just jumped off a sixty-foot-high statue of the Empress and landed blade-first on a guard’s face. YOU ARE A MONSTER TRUCK THAT WALKS LIKE A MAN. I would be more invested with your character if you appreciated that fact a little.

VISSIN ZE DEZIGNATED AREA! ACHTUNG!

All the gameplay improvements and alterations stated above are only available in KoD‘s criminally short campaign. It has precisely zero effect on the vanilla game’s mechanics. The new Blink is a vast improvement over the old and would have made my Dishonored experience much richer. It might have even merited another playthrough. But this is not the case. If I want to use the new mechanics that I paid money for, I have to navigate menus, select one of the rather small missions, and do the exact same thing I did during my first playthrough. This is a blatant waste of potential and that is probably what pisses me off the most.

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Christ, you are really bad at shadow puppets. You have much to learn.

I Think I Just Felt A DLC Cry Out All at Once…and Was Swiftly Silenced.

In this installment, Daud is given a chance for redemption after assassinating the Empress, encapsulated in the name “Delilah.” That’s pretty much the extent of the story told in KoD as I understand it. Daud visits a slaughterhouse because the owner might know something, then visits a corrupt lawyer who might know something else, something actually exciting happens, and then it’s over. Exactly all buildup and zero payoff. The only bit of excitement, the only time I felt truly invested in the characters and the story was right at the end, for the sequel hook. Ostensibly the story will be concluded in Dishonored’s final DLC, but I really couldn’t be asked at this point.

Recap

This is generally the part where I make a ruling about whether or not you should buy it. I wanted to like The Knife of Dunwall. I really did. But there simply wasn’t enough there for me to like. It’s like an insipid plain Ritz cracker. Quite edible, but crying out for more substance, like a nice slice of brie. Dishonored fans might be interested, if only for the additional lore and story elements, but gameplay was too short to be satisfying.

TL;DR: Give it a miss.

Review Platform: PC