Game Reviews

Dishonored DLC Review – The Knife & The Witch

by William Schwartz

Dishonored was one of our favorite games of 2012. It not only offered an impressive and thoughtful single player story with a beautiful and unique world to explore, but it had the gameplay to go with it. Dishonored is a game that gives players freedom, putting them in many sandbox scenarios which can be tackled in a variety of ways. The 2012 release introduced us to Corvo the Supernatural Assassin and took us on a quite literal save the princess quest. But along the way, a bigger story of Dunwall was told. Many colorful characters were introduced in a wretched city filled with backstabbers, double-crossers, the haves, and the have-nots.

Now, a year later, you’ve likely been down this path in Dishonored. Perhaps more than once due to the game’s multiple endings and ways to play. Earlier this year Dishonored fans got their first taste of story DLC with The Knife of Dunwall. This week, The Witches of Brigmore will be released, and conclude the Dishonored storyline. The story DLC for Dishonored takes you on a completely different journey than the one you took in the main campaign. Starting out with The Knife of Dunwall, players will assume the role of Daud.  If the name sounds familiar that’s because he’s the bad guy in vanilla Dishonored.  He’s responsible for the murder of the Empress, and The Knife of Dunwall is the story of a villain that’s living with his actions.

Daud doesn’t differ too much from Corvo in the way that he plays. You’ve got plenty of familiar weapons at your disposal, alongside the supernatural abilities that Corvo had. Though Daud does have a few tricks of his own. He can summon assassins to his aid, allowing for you to sneak through enemy lines, or summon back-up if overwhelmed. Daud can also use chokedust grenades that blind and stun enemies for a short period of time. There are new mines as well, and there’s just enough differences in the ways the characters play to give you a familiar yet fresh feeling for a game that has already impeccable gameplay design. Then there’s of course all the goodies that carry over from the main storyline.  The familiar abilities like the Blink skill, allows players to teleport across the sprawling environments of the DLC packs.  The core mechanics are very much intact with The Knife of Dunwall, and that means you’ll have plenty of choice in this three level quest line.  A lot of the fun is just experimenting in this often crazy environment.  You can choose to tackle things head on, take a more stealthy approach, or mix it up with a combination of methods.

We’re not gonna give away any secrets to the story, despite the Knife of Dunwall releasing a few months ago, and really leaving more questions than answers.  But there are a couple of interesting areas in this DLC pack.  A whaling facility which must be investigated is one of the highlights of the first DLC, if just for it’s grittiness.  Combat-ready bloody butchers roam the halls of this slaughterhouse, with meat cleavers and bonesaws, while a giant whale bellows in the background. It’s an interesting statement being made;  I mean all that whale oil has to come from somewhere, right?  The three missions are very familiar territory for Dishonored players.  If you liked the original game, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy more of the same. The Knife of Dunwall expands on the already interesting story of Dishonored, and learning more about some of the characters you’ve already been introduced to. It’s a weird premise though, playing the lengthy Dishonored campaign as Corvo and switching into the shoes of his enemy is awkward proposition, but definitely a trip worth taking.

With The Witches of Brigmore on the release horizon, it’s worth noting that these two pieces of story content work best as a pair. You’ll definitely want to be up to speed on The Knife of Dunwall before entering into the finale. It also doesn’t hurt if you’ve still got the main campaign fresh in your memory.

The Witches of Brigmore picks up right where The Knife of Dunwall leaves off. You’re still in control of Daud, and if you’ve got a save from the previous DLC, you’ll be able to carry forward any runes, weapons, and skills that you’ve unlocked. It’ll also carry forward the Chaos Level from the previous DLC. As you very well may know, Chaos Level will have an impact on how the game ends, it’s the same in the DLC as it is in the regular game. Play stealthy, don’t kill people, and you’ll stay Low Chaos. Kill everybody with loose and fast play, you’re gonna wind up with High Chaos. But that’s part of the fun in Dishonored. Getting High Chaos isn’t hard, but trying to get through while playing stealthy is the real test. Both DLC’s also feature four difficulty levels for even the hardest of hardcore assassins.

Like the Knife of Dunwall, Witches of Brigmore has a different path of upgrades than the main game. Yes, you still look to scour the environment for gold and scrap to pad your pockets, but the method for upgrading equipment is different than the main game. Using a “network of corrupt merchants”, Daud is given the ability to purchase upgrades to his equipment at the beginning of every level, while runes can be spent freely when found. Daud can also purchase special items that can shape a mission differently. He can purchase favors that open up different routes, aide in dispatching enemies, or leave weapons caches throughout the map. Since Daud starts off with some abilities, The Knife of Dunwall and The Witches of Brigmore both skip out on any sort of tutorial functionality that help you get acquaninted with the game. I only mention this becuase if you have put down Dishonored for a time, you’ll need to get up to speed on your own, and the two pieces of content are demanding of the player from the very beginning.

The Witches of Brigmore really rounds out the side story for Dishonored. Where The Knife of Dunwall really left a lot of the big questions unanswered, Witches brings a lot of closure to the story of Dishonored, and brings everything around full circle. For Dishonored fans, its definitely a fitting ending or endings to the game. Similar in size to the Knife of Dunwall, Witches of Brigmore offers three levels, two of which are completely new. Again, there isn’t a huge deviation from the norm in either of the two DLCs. Witches of Brigmore doesn’t expand on that forumla anymore than The Knife of Dunwall did.

But like The Knife of Dunwall, Witches of Brigmore does introduce the player to some new enemy types and environments. A brand new area called The Draper’s Ward is the second stage in this three level DLC, and it’s one of the bigger of the bunch. It’s got multiple areas to explore, with warring factions you’ll need to navigate to complete a questline that has you zipping around the area to reach your overall goal. The finale stage is probably the most interesting of the bunch though. Where Daud finally tracks down Delilah, he is introduced to both a brand new sprawling estate, which houses witches and hellhounds. The witches are probably the most difficult enemy that you’ll find in either DLC, combine them with the respawning hellhounds and you’ve got a recipe for some pretty good combat sequences if you choose to engage.

While neither The Knife of Dunwall or The Witches of Brigmore are absolutely necessary to have had a good time with Dishonored, together they really feel like mandatory content for fans of the game. The two-part content widens the scope of the story significantly. It does have some trouble in explaining itself in the early goings, but by the end, it’s every bit as good as the original game. Put both DLC packs together and you’ve got a storyline that’s probably a little over half the size of the content the game launched with, and an interesting alt-story to really round out the universe. I had the luxury of replaying Dishonored prior to jumping into this DLC, and it made it all the more enjoyable. The Knife of Dunwall & The Witches of Brigmore are definitely a must play for Dishonored fans, but don’t play either one of them on their own, you’ll likely get lost.

- This article was updated on:February 19th, 2018

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Dishonored DLC

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Published By: Bethesda
  • Developed By: Arkane Studios
  • Genre: Stealth First Person Adventure
  • US Release Date: August 11th, 2013
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "While neither The Knife of Dunwall or The Witches of Brigmore are absolutely necessary to have had a good time with Dishonored, together they really feel like mandatory content for fans of the game. The two-part content widens the scope of the story significantly."
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