One of the difficult things to get around with a lot of DLC packages is that they cover ground already trodden by the original game. The various Mass Effect 3 DLCs probably loom largest as the most awkward of this variety – sure, they’re great and all, but it’s hard to get excited about plot of a DLC episode made up of dead characters in a story that is already over.
So far, Dishonored has managed to avoid this problem, with a couple of interesting solutions to presenting new game content. In Dunwall City Trials, the DLC was entirely challenge-based, and a welcome and fun set of scenarios to boot in a game which is already strongly built around replay value and experimentation.
The Knife of Dunwall, the DLC pack due on the 16th of April, takes another tack again, letting players take on the role of another character entirely, but one who was vitally important to Dishonored’s plot.
The Knife offers three missions in the stealthy, stabby shoes of Daud, the assassin who killed the Empress in the original game’s opening act, and whose later fate is decided by Dishonored’s protagonist, Corvo. The game delivers the essential Dishonored experience – lots of sneaking, magicking, and modest amounts of killing, but Daud’s take on the role of assassin is very different.
For one thing, he’s a pro, not an assassin of convenience like Corvo. There are three missions in the DLC , but since we played only the first one it remains to be seen whether he’ll be judged as harshly for his actions as Corvo was. Personally, I played him as the consummate killer; then again, when I complete the play through I may well be a little more... circumspect.
Daud has a lot of the same Outsider-gifted powers as Corvo, such as Blink, but there’s a lot of fresh new ones as well. The key difference is that Daud is not a loner – he can call on his fellow assassins for assistance, and is often met and accompanied by his hooded and masked lieutenant.
This summoning ability works wonderfully with some of the new enemies you face, too. In the first level, you need to infiltrate a slaughterhouse, and take on the rather ghastly butchers inside. The whaling industry of Dunwall featured heavily in Dishonored, but in this DLC you get to see it up close and bloodily personal. Many of the butchers use whale-oil-powered cutting tools, which are both offensive and defensive weapons – you’ve got to get behind them and attack the sensitive oil tanks that power them.
Summoning an assassin is an excellent way to deal with them.
New weapons and equipment are on offer, too, such as shock mines and chokedust grenades. They’re all different enough to add a new feel to negotiating each challenging level, but not so different that you have to radically re-learn the game.
The real pull of the game is that Daud’s story opens, like Corvo’s, with the slaying of the Empress – of course, it’s you doing it, this time, so you’re getting to see the whole thing from a very different angle, while also exploring a whole new mystery. And it’s a pretty chunky passage of play, too. The first mission took as just about an hour to finish, with very little in the way of full exploration, so we’d guess a good three or four hours of gameplay at least when the full DLC releases.
Not bad for $15.