Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches Review

The Brigmore Witches is a haunting end to the Dishonored story arc.

If The Knife of Dunwall downloadable content allowed us to step into the shoes of Daud, the assassin responsible for making Corvo's life such a mess in Dishonored proper, then The Brigmore Witches allows us to slip into his soul. There are witches here, yes, but this new chapter is just as much about a conflicted killer's path toward possible redemption. Arkane Studios sticks with its winning formula, delivering masterful moments of character growth and memorable settings that will make you relish this final trek through Dunwall.

If you're new to Dishonored's DLC, it's best that you know that The Brigmore Witches is officially a sequel to The Knife of Dunwall rather than a stand-alone addition, although fortunately you're free to skip the previous episode completely if you so wish. Completing The Knife of Dunwall brings its own benefits, though, such as the opportunity to hop in with all of your items and upgrades intact, which could yield a significantly different playthrough experience. While Daud receives a decent stash of cash to spend on upgrades and so-called favors between each chapter here, you'll still have an easier time attempting a full stealth playthrough if you've brought along the goodies from Knife.

However you approach it, you'll find that The Brigmore Witches strays much further into Dunwall's supernatural subculture than Corvo's comparatively mundane tale of revenge and political orchestration. It works in part because the switch emphasizes the ways in which Daud stands as the flip side to Corvo's coin, as it were, and Dishonored's narrative thus takes the duo down wildly different paths toward the final meeting.

Even the recycled map of Coldridge Prison in the first chapter stresses this theme of opposing directions: whereas Corvo escaped from Coldridge in Dishonored, here we find Daud sneaking into the compound through the same corridor Corvo took to escape. Daud's network of assassins helps distinguish his incursion even further through the availability of the aforementioned purchasable favors, which offer opportunities to waltz in through the front door while disguised as an Overseer, or sneak through a hole in the fence that an associate cut in advance.

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And with that, Daud is free to determine which way his future will swing. The DLC sprinkles his path with numerous opportunities to atone for his crimes--he can intervene in the execution of one of the guards who let Corvo escape, for instance--although he could just as easily succumb to the temptation to kill 'em all. The key difference from The Knife of Dunwall is that Daud's spoken lines and interactions allow us to relate more with his struggle this time around, which marks a strong contrast with his cardboard characterization in the previous expansion. Indeed, in his best moments, he comes off as infinitely more interesting than Corvo.

After the tidy (or bloody) completion of Coldridge, Daud strikes out into new territory and finds himself wandering the shabby thoroughfares of Drapers Ward. In some ways, regrettably, the Drapers Ward sequence serves as a mere distraction from the final act, because Daud spends much of his time hunting down a necessary item that will get him to the last stage. Fortunately, Daud finds his path littered with run-ins with a dapper band of thugs called the Hatters and numerous opportunities to build up enough resources to handle the dreaded witches more effectively. All the while, passersby mumble intriguing snippets of Dunwall's lore, substantially enriching the game's already strong sense of verisimilitude.

But it's that final act that entrances the most--a nightmarish trek through a dilapidated (though hauntingly beautiful) mansion filled with shrieking hostile witches with powers that can make even a hardened man like Daud shudder. It's a testament to developer Arkane Studios that this strange journey into a stifling hell feels every bit as connected to the lore as your occasional encounters with the mysterious Outsider in Dishonored, and Daud's own unique powers feed into that same mix of magic and gritty dystopianism. There's his ability to call upon an extra assassin from the shadows that we saw in Knife, for instance, as well as a fun new ability called "pull" that (of course) pulls enemies toward Daud, whereupon he squeezes the life out of them. Even charms come in corrupted forms in keeping with the corruption of the titular witches, offering perks such as improved damage absorption at the cost of moving like a confident tortoise, although they're not so good that you'll feel compelled to switch out most of the normal ones.

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Naturally it all culminates in the meeting with Corvo, and The Brigmore Witches wisely bases the outcome on whether you played Daud as a murderous beast or a furtive shadow who's had more than his fill of death. Alas, the handling of this meeting isn't fully satisfying. This may be Dunwall through Daud's eyes, but it's also very much Daud's world, which means that Corvo's ultimate actions depend on how Daud conducted himself in the two DLC campaigns. As for whatever decision you made with Corvo in Dishonored proper? That might as well have been another universe.

Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches may not mark a massive departure from Dishonored's appealing blend of stealth and stabbing despite the focus on a different character, but it introduces enough new elements to render its five or six hours of game time as alluring as Corvo's epic odyssey. Taken together with The Knife of Dunwall, The Brigmore Witches affords us a rare chance to see the other side of the story in gaming, with the result that you may briefly find yourself wondering who was in the right after all. This may be the end of Dunwall's story arc, but it's a fitting and quietly triumphant addition that adds true meaning to Corvo's tale rather than a few extra hours of playtime. This is DLC as it should be done.

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    The Good
    New abilities provide variety over Corvo's campaign
    Memorable new settings
    Substantially better characterization for Daud
    The witches are actually scary
    The Bad
    The final meeting doesn't fully satisfy
    8
    Great
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    About the Author

    Leif Johnson is a prolific freelancer from Chicago who confuses people by speaking with an East Texas accent. Somehow a childhood of herding cattle and raising emus prepared him for researching medieval texts for several years, but these days he fills his free time by smashing bad guys with big swords. In RPGs, of course.

    Dishonored More Info

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  • First Released Oct 8, 2012
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    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 Rating4349 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Arkane Studios
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    Modern
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language