Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall is the first of two story-centric DLCs for Dishonored, both focusing on Daud, the talented hired killer who set into motion the events of the base game. As far as a timeline goes, the DLCs are concurrent with the main game, giving you the opportunity to see what Daud was up to while Corvo was terrorizing/saving the city.
This doesn’t delve into the story much
While the story begins in Knife and a few important things are established to set the stage for the second DLC (The Brigmore Witches), there’s ultimately not a lot that has any bearing on the overall story. Instead, Knife is more of a personal story that focuses on establishing Daud’s character by giving him someone to play off of. That someone is Billie Lurk, his second-in-command and the only female assassin he’s ever taken on.
Billie is what makes Knife better than Brigmore
Giving one of Daud’s assassins a personality of her own allows her to have a more fleshed-out back story and better function as a reflection of Daud. While that back story is only hinted at for most of the game, only really being laid out there toward the end when you read something she wrote about how her and Daud met, she nevertheless injects some life into Knife, frequently appearing during missions to help out and comment on what’s happening.
Still, Knife is only three missions long
The brevity of the DLC really keeps it from ever living up to its potential; it feels like you’re yanked out of the action just as soon as you settle into things, and while you’re able to transfer your save over to The Brigmore Witches, allowing the two DLCs to feel like one game when combined, the more personal story ends far too soon in Knife. This means that the finale in Brigmore lacks the same kind of oomph that it could have had if the two DLCs were combined into a single game.
Everything gameplay-wise is pretty much the same
Just about everything is identical to the base game, from sneaking up behind enemies to choke or kill them to using your Blink power to teleport around, though some of the powers and devices are different. For example, “chokedust” allows you to stun your enemies for a short time, affording you the opportunity to escape or run in to set up a trap. Arc mines—or mines that disintegrate opponents, leaving no evidence behind—are also new, as are the stealth variant (stun mines) that you can see in action in the video below. Despite a few new elements, however, everything feels very similar to the main game.
That is, of course, with the exception of The Heart. In the main game, The Heart was the star of the show for me, offering up bits of information that fleshed out the world. Daud has the ability to summon assassins (if you choose to learn that ability) who can both fight with him and comment on the area, but this consumes mana, ensuring that you can’t sit around listening to interesting bits of information whenever you want like you could with The Heart. Billie’s presence helps fill the gap somewhat, but it’s still ultimately a lesser experience than the main game.
The ending changes based on chaos
Much like the base game, you get a better—low chaos—ending when you go through the game killing as infrequently as possible. Sleep darts and stun mines make this surprisingly easy, but if you prefer to carve a bloody path to the end, you’ll be rewarded with the game’s “bad” ending. Playing violently is also faster than playing stealthily, making Knife’s three missions fly by so quickly that you could easily get through the entire DLC in a single sitting.
It looks good
The graphics are just like Dishonored, honestly. They’re interesting, with a weirdly cartoon-y aesthetic and some annoyingly low-quality textures, but ultimately refreshingly different enough from the usual to be worthwhile.
It sounds atmospheric and bland
There’s music in this game, but it’s so atmospheric and unmemorable that it doesn’t stick with you. You never feel like you’re wandering around in silence, but like the main game, it’d have been nice to sneak around while some memorable themes play. Sadly, there’s nothing like that to be found.
Here’s what you should do: