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Sharp action, dull story in Knife of Dunwall

Expansion provides challenging gameplay but could use more narrative drama

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The Knife of Dunwall (Dishonored DLC) video game.

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The Knife of Dunwall (Dishonored DLC) video game.

Dishonored was one of my favourite games of 2012. I loved the stylish Victorian setting, the gothic narrative and the gameplay's combination of stealth, supernatural powers and steampunk gadgetry. The world of Dunwall, inspired by 19th-century Edinburgh and London, was immersive and encouraged exploration and replay. Like many gamers, I wanted more Dishonored.

Now Arkane Studios, the game's developer, has released a new downloadable content add-on pack for Dishonored entitled The Knife of Dunwall.

In this expansion, you will no longer play the part of disgraced royal bodyguard Corvo Attano, but rather the ruthless assassin Daud.

The story begins with Dishonored's inciting incident: Daud's assassination of Empress Jessamine. Daud's story then continues in parallel to Corvo's timeline -- but with an entirely new subplot.

Daud is given a mysterious command by The Outsider to investigate the name "Delilah." This investigation will take you on three missions: to a whaler's slaughterhouse, a barrister's mansion in the Legal District, and then, finally, to Daud's hideout in the Flooded District.

The Knife of Dunwall offers the same great gameplay as in the original Dishonored. You will need to use a combination of stealth and action to complete your missions. And, best of all, you can choose the level of violence that your character commits. You can complete the game by killing without mercy. Or, you can successfully complete the missions without committing a single murder. The nonlethal options in Dishonored are what make it so original and satisfying, and Knife of Dunwall continues this tradition.

There are some new skill and weapons available in KoD. These include Choke Dust, a non-lethal grenade that confuses your enemies, and Summon Assassin, a supernatural power that calls one of Daud's minions to fight by your side.

The missions are challenging, require substantial trial and error, and provide about six hours of gameplay.

The story elements of KoD are its weakest point. Daud is an interesting character but his interactions with The Outsider, second-in-command Billie Lurk and antagonist Delilah are limited and uninspired. The story concludes with very little dramatic satisfaction and a sense of unfinished business.

The sense of cliffhanger is intentional because Arkane Studios plans to release another DLC, The Brigmore Witches, in the near future. Still, I found the end of Daud's story underwhelming and disappointing. The inclusion of more narrative elements would have made The Knife of Dunwall a more satisfying and memorable experience. Hopefully, the next Dishonored DLC will attempt to bring us more than just more Dishonored.


Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.

Warning: videos include mature content

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2013 C6

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About Danishka Esterhazy

Danishka Esterhazy is a screenwriter, film director and self-confessed video game addict. She prefers games with a story but will settle for a good sword fight.

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