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Review

Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall Review

  • Game release: October 8, 2012
  • Reviewed: April 22, 2013
  • X360
Aaron Sampson on Google+

The Knife of Dunwall changes protagonists with panache, delivering a compelling new chapter in the Dishonored saga.

by

Daud. If you've beaten Dishonored, the very name drips with foreboding. This leader of assassins and fellow favorite of the Outsider proved to be one of Corvo's most formidable foes, and in The Knife of Dunwall downloadable content, you step into his sneaky, stabby boots. He can maneuver and murder with the same stealthy grace and brutal panache as Corvo, but he has a few new tricks that freshen things up and encourage experimentation. You spend time in two new districts of the ailing Dunwall, and the city once again proves to be a captivating place that rewards exploration in intriguing and gratifying ways. The Knife of Dunwall is clever and exciting, an enticing invitation to dive back into the engrossing world of Dishonored.

The opening cutscene of The Knife of Dunwall chronicles an event anyone who played Dishonored will remember: the assassination of Empress Kaldwin. Once again, you watch helplessly as the knife plunges in, but this time, you see it from a first-person perspective. As Daud narrates his memories of that fateful day, it becomes very clear that you have left the wrongly accused innocent behind; you are now the cold-blooded murderer. These grim beginnings may beckon you towards a brutal playthrough, or Daud's regret may inspire you to tread a nonlethal path. Once again, it's completely up to you.

Unlike Corvo, whose personality was shaped by your actions and conversations with those around you, Daud can speak for himself. His brooding monologues and brief interactions with his second-in-command, Billie Lurk, help establish his character. He speaks with a kind of doomed poetry, like a weary old detective from a noir film. His personality resonates nicely with the seedy characters he pursues, unscrupulous men who are moving up in the world even as Dunwall circles the drain.

One of the new districts you visit is the slaughterhouse where the great whales that Dunwall's ships pull from the sea are harvested for oil, hooked into machinery while they slowly die. In this bloody corner of the city, a labor dispute simmers as workers protest an exploitative magnate and his vicious butchers. Later, you travel to a residential district where a grasping lawyer is evicting plague-ridden families and seizing their assets, even if they aren't actually infected. Both areas offer new perspectives on Dunwall society and are rich with out-of-the-way places where you can find intriguing notes and helpful goodies. Though the first district is more novel than the second, each provides numerous opportunities to ply your deadly, or not so deadly, trade.

Billie likes to sneak up on you. Get used to it.

Whether you choose to embrace Daud's homicidal past or leave his killing days behind, your abilities largely overlap with those from Dishonored, and many of the same strategies apply. The saw-wielding butchers are tough targets if they happen to spot you, and the new master assassin difficulty level (unlocked after you complete the DLC) makes your enemies significantly more deadly. Those who relish a challenge may enjoy these reinforced obstacles to success, but everyone should get a kick out of the new possibilities offered by Daud's blink ability.

When Daud activates this quick teleport power, time stops. From your frozen position, whether on the ground or in midair, you can aim your target reticle, pick your destination, and zip off at your leisure. This comes in handy if an enemy is about to discover you and you want to escape, and it also encourages some daredevil experimentation. Need to get around the corner of a building? Leap out past the corner, then blink back to safety, taking your time to pinpoint the right ledge. Need to see what's going on in the room below? Drop down in front of a window or door, blink and observe the scene, and then zip back up to the roof without anyone noticing. It's a subtle change, but one with a lot of potential to fuel fun maneuvers.

Daud can also summon an assassin to fight at his side or in his stead, which can be helpful and amusing, if not very stealthy. Your companions are novices and draw a lot of attention unless you spend runes on certain upgrades, making them initially better as distractions while you sneak past or take on other foes. Once upgraded, they get a fair bit deadlier, and having a hit man on hand imparts a feeling of power appropriate to Daud's role as master assassin. There are also new mines that zap individual enemies as they pass by, as well as gas grenades for making nonlethal getaways. The creativity of this world is such that you'll likely yearn for more new powers and gadgets to play with, but The Knife of Dunwall delivers enough new tricks to entertain throughout.

Not every apartment in Dunwall is so… exuberantly designed.

This DLC can last upward of five hours, depending on how thoroughly you explore every nook and cranny. Purchasable favors give you an extra incentive to look around, letting you pay money for someone to leave a stolen rune behind, or for a worker to scrawl a safe code on the wall. Favors are a small addition, but one of many that contribute to the feeling that you are playing as a distinct character and having a new adventure. The Knife of Dunwall ends with an interesting choice (and foreshadows the next planned downloadable chapter in Daud's story), but the real payoff of this DLC is how it takes the cocktail of discovery, exploration, and combat that made Dishonored so delicious, and adds an engaging twist.

The Good
Great tweak to the blink ability
New areas are rich with secrets and goodies
Daud is gruffly appealing
Lethal and nonlethal play styles are both very rewarding
The Bad
N/A
8.5
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Dishonored

About the Author

/ Staff

With his Apple IIGS as the spark and his neighbor's NES the fuel, Chris Watters' passion for gaming caught fire early. Years later, you can find him aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent while desperately avoiding sunburns.

Discussion

55 comments
kittyzilla82
kittyzilla82

Fun, but too short. I was just getting into playing as Daud, and expecting something great to come in the next mission, when it just ended.

IamOnlyoneMan
IamOnlyoneMan

Dishonored is one of my favorite games out there, to date. It makes you really think about a situation before going in there "gun's blazing".

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

I really enjoyed getting back to dishonored, playing as daud certainly feels a bit different from corvo and his different powers shows every 9 of the ones marked by the Outsider are different.

maddog123
maddog123

I played it, I beat it, and I avidly await the next instalment, because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WITCH!!!!

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Looks like I'll be downloading this on payday.

Berexar
Berexar

nice job Chris. Very fair review, you don't see too many DLCs that get over an 8.

cspark809
cspark809

I hope Bethesda applies similar combat system on next elder scroll installment.

mhaed
mhaed

Wow, DLC with a decent review? Inconceivable!

joesguy
joesguy

No "The Bad" section for an 8.5? Something's suspicious here.

brxricano
brxricano

Haha, panache......makes me think of fancy pancakes.

glorbothis12
glorbothis12

i never liked first person till this game

i never woulda played bioshock infinite if i didnt play this game

i never would have skipped English 1202 if i didnt have this game

i like this game

.

BIOJECT
BIOJECT

Wow this was a surprise. Guess I'll download this DLC on Steam as soon as I get home. :D

hitomo
hitomo

confused ? ... the lead designer of dishonored is the one of the guys behind DeusEx:1 and the guy behind DE:2 ... hence the name of the game [i]dishonored[/i] ... I believe he also worked on Bioshok:infinite ... hence the similarities in the design, style and caracters ... basicly we are looking at the non-casual, original Version of the bioshock:infinite Project ...

anakvunky
anakvunky

ok i think i need to play this game.... it should be discounted already.

iomor27
iomor27

Definitely a very good game. I'm still working through the DLC but am already looking forward and hoping for more. This is one of the better new IPs to come along in a while.

Xxthesorrow90xX
Xxthesorrow90xX

I'm amazed! a DLC that got a good review :D I may check this out.

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

Dishonored was amazing, this sounds great too. Definitely getting it!

WoZe
WoZe

I hope they make a sequal. Maybe with young princess Emily as a young 20something year old ruler and Corvo still by her side.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

It's excellent but I wish it was longer.  Not to mention the ending is just .......

binderdundat
binderdundat

The guy sounds like Roshach from the Watchmen...I hate not having an xbox connection.

Joutja
Joutja

The DLC is pretty good. Quite interesting with some funny moments and a nice (but to be honest expected) twist at the end. Good story. :)

musalala
musalala

Does the new difficulty apply to the original game?

cephas90
cephas90

Behold, a fresh, new IP worthy of supporting financially via DLC.  Everyone else, step aside thou art unworthy.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

Okay, definitely getting a Game of the Year Edition.

marcheegsr
marcheegsr

Defiently picking this up tommrow morning.

Bulzeeb3088
Bulzeeb3088

I've never seen DLC surpass the original game's score. You have my attention again, Dishonored. Glad I didn't trade you in just yet.

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

@cspark809  

Personally, the biggest flaws that I saw with Skyrim was  because of its poor unrealistic combat, 10 arrows to the face to kill someone thing and poor physics.

so far, only Dishonored and Dark Messiah (same company) nailed down perfectly melee combat in an FPS.

mhaed
mhaed

But yeah, Dishonored was a great game, so this, fortunately, doesn't surprise me.

ronnet
ronnet

@joesguy Why? Perhaps there is nothing 'bad' about it but the 'good' bits aren't great enough to higher the score.

BIOJECT
BIOJECT

@hitomo What really? I always thought of Dishonored as the true spiritual successor to Deus Ex since Deus Ex 3 Human Revolution was a crap game in comparison to its predecessors. 

siltdaddy
siltdaddy

@Xxthesorrow90xX Thought the exact same thing. DLCs always seem promising and then turn out awful. I think I'll actually buy this one.

BIOJECT
BIOJECT

@WoZe Would that really be necessary? Sounds horrible. Corvo wouldn't have any powers. 

cameronrobinson
cameronrobinson moderator

@musalala No, from what I can tell. I finished it over the weekend with the intension of replaying the single player on the new elite difficulty but it didn't appear to be an option. Which is a shame.

WoZe
WoZe

@Bulzeeb3088 Why would you trade it in? Keep the game! Its a masterpiece!

joesguy
joesguy

@ronnet @joesguy Not a chance, I call bullshit. There is bad to be found everywhere, especially where Dishonored is concerned. Chris has done this before with a few reviews and it isn't at all helpful.

wavelength121
wavelength121

@BIOJECT @hitomo Wrong, wrong, wrong. Deus Ex 3 is a fantastic game, and Deus Ex 2 is way underrated. In fact I would go so far as to say the original bored the hell out of me. Felt like a first person RPG with guns thrown in. LoL don't do FPS unless you include good gunplay. 

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

@BIOJECT @hitomo Man, i completely agree, the original Deus Ex never got the sequel or prequel it deserved...

Chris_Watters
Chris_Watters moderator staff

@joesguy @Lambchopzin @ronnet "If there is good, there is bad." This idea posits that the entire world is binary and that things are either good or bad. I do not believe this is true. I believe there is a broad spectrum and that just because some is less good than something else, that does not make it bad. Only relatively worse. 

Sure, some parts of this DLC are better than others. But I don't think any parts are bad enough to warrant highlighting in The Bad, nor do I think that calling something bad for the sake of having a Bad entry is responsible.

joesguy
joesguy

@Lambchopzin @joesguy @ronnet If there is good, there is bad. DLC or genre affect this concept very little. Obviously there was enough good to talk about, despite it being a DLC pack. Why not toss out the middle man and get rid of the good section too? Oh right, because that would be a poor review.

Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

@joesguy @ronnet He doesn't really need to for a DLC like this. The negatives for this DLC are essentially going to mirror the negatives from the vanilla game. Perceived problems with Dishonored are going to be present in the DLC as well. It's basically just extra missions following a parallel story, but it follows the same formula as far as actual gameplay and progression is concerned.

The quality is essentially up to par with the vanilla campaign. The easiest way to recommend this DLC is "If you like Dishonored and want more Dishonored then buy this DLC. It will give you a comparable experience."

I guess having already played it gives me a different perspective then somebody who is actually using the review to decide whether to purchase or not.

BIOJECT
BIOJECT

@wavelength121 @BIOJECT  Wow I don't know what you see in Deus Ex 3. The levels are very linear for a Deus Ex game that used to give you mini-sandbox-like levels to play around in. A large majority of the augments were useless and I found myself running out of meaningful upgrades 3/4's through the game. Basically all of the hacking upgrades except for the ones that gave me access to higher level security cameras, computers, and bots were useless and everything else I had already upgraded. 

What about the ultra linear boss battles that were obviously outsourced to a different company where most of your stealth augments were virtually useless? Or how about that stupid ending where you basically press a button to choose how the game ends? How do you ignore these huge flaws!? 

Deux Ex 1 is a clunky shooter, but it made up for it in all of its detailed RPG elements, awesome levels, and superb story. In fact the levels in Deus Ex 1 are larger than in Deus Ex 2 or Deux Ex 3 despite being a game that came out in 1999. That's freaking sad. 

The game also gives you way more options than 2 or 3 too. You can fight bosses directly or stealth kill them if you want. Shoot you can even take them out using nonlethal means. 

Dishonored had virtually every thing that a true Deus Ex sequel needed. Lots of fun powers, large open ended levels and gameplay. 

Oh and Deus Ex 2 is not overrated. Its graphics engine was so terrible, they could not render water in the world and due to its poor optimization, the levels had to be smaller than in the first game. Tons of loading screens. Universal ammo. A game breaking glitch that needed to be patched where you couldn't drop equipment in your inventory making the game impossible play. But at least Deus Ex 2 had endings that were more than press one of these buttons to choose how it ends. That was just lazy! 

I think the only reason why you like Deus Ex 3 more than its predecessors is because it is more cinematic, better graphics, and the controls are tighter. 

Dishonored More Info

First Release on Oct 08, 2012
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
Dishonored places players in the role an infamous assassin who was the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress until he was framed for murder. Using supernatural powers and deadly weapons, you must sneak, shoot, and stab your way through a dystopian city in order to depose a cruel tyrant.
8.4
Average User RatingOut of 4008 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Arkane Studios
Published by:
Bethesda Softworks
Genres:
3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
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Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language