“Dishonored DLC: The Knife of Dunwall” — a brief review w/spoilers

| April 21, 2013

“Dishonored” (2012) is one of my favorite games in quite some time. I haven’t put as many hours into it as I have into, say, “Endless Space” or “XCOM: Enemy Unknown”, but it has a moral resonance, stealth flavor, and a multipath openness that’s refreshing, particularly when compared to “Tomb Raider” (2013). I’ve played the original Dishonored campaign to completion four times, and so I was looking forward to the release this past week of “The Knife of Dunwall”, an inexpensive ($10) downloadable content for Dishonored that introduces two new areas within Dunwall and revisits a third. I purchased it on the day of release and have since completed it twice, with a third run-through underway.

In Knife, you play Daud, the master assassin who kills Empress Jessamine Kaldwin at the start of the original Dishonored campaign. The Outsider offers you a chance at some form of redemption by giving you a single name to investigate: Delilah. Your #2 assassin, Billie Lurk, tracks the name down to that of a whaling ship, and your quest begins. Your first mission takes you into a whaling slaughterhouse to question the current owner of the Delilah for more information. The second quest takes you to the well-guarded mansion of the original owner (and namer) of the Delilah to find out more details. And the third quest takes you back to Daud’s headquarters in the flooded district, which have now been taken over by Overseers, who are questioning — and killing — the assassins who work for you.  The first mission is clearly the best of the three — not just for the unusual setting, but for the number of different paths you can take getting into the slaughterhouse and getting around it once you’re inside.

The game mechanics are the same as in Dishonored, though you have a few new powers (such as Summon Assassin) and lack a few that you have as Corvo (such as Possession). You’ve got some new weapons — such as arc mines, stun mines, and chokedust — and some corresponding new upgrades, including one I very much wanted in the original Dishonored campaign: additional sleep dart capacity (though only up to 15). You also have the opportunity to buy “favors” for your upcoming mission, such as having a rune left in a given location for you, or disabling certain alarms ahead of time. I would love to see some of these made available as an option in the original Dishonored campaign or a revised/extended version thereof.

Blink works a bit differently for Daud than for Corvo — when you press and hold the activate Blink button (right mouse click on the PC version for me), time freezes, and you can take as long as you want to aim your blink. This is particularly useful in combination with a jump, either straight up or forward off a high point, though it eliminates a bit of the pit-of-the-stomach thrill when you wonder if you’re actually going to make it all the way across to the other side or plummet to the street/floor below.

I think that Knife tends to disappoint a bit when compared to the length and complexity of the original Dishonored campaign. That may be solved in part when Bethesda releases its second Daud-based DLC, “The Brigmore Witches” (which Knife clearly sets up). But as it stands, it is not at all clear how the events and goals in Knife are helping Daud towards any form of redemption, aside from the fact that he can pursue a non-lethal/low chaos solution in all three missions. And even though you can collect runes at a pretty good clip — including being able to buy an extra one (left for you in a marked location) for 150 coins in each of the first two missions — you still don’t have the time to build up Daud’s powers the way you can build up Corvo’s, even though Daud is supposedly much more experienced. Also, as other reviewers have noted, if you’re willing to pursue a lethal/high chaos path, you can rip through these missions in a pretty short time. Finally, there just isn’t anything even close to the emotional payoff and closure that comes when completing Dishonored at low chaos.

But even with those complaints, I still recommend Knife strongly and consider it well worth the $10. I think that many of my complaints will, in fact, be answered — or at least mollified — by The Brigmore Witches, especially if I can transition my buffed Daud character from a completed Knife campaign into the start of a Witches campaign. In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to the Timsh mansion. 8/10.  Spoilers after the jump.



As it turns out, your second-in-command, Billie Lurk, is actually planning to overthrow you — she thinks you’re losing your touch, and she gave information to Delilah, who in turn led the Overseers to your HQ. If you complete all three missions at low chaos, she confesses her betrayal and submits herself for execution at your hand or exile; if you complete at high chaos, she attacks you (much as Daud fights Corvo in Dishonored). That’s the only real consequence of low vs. high chaos — and it’s a touch confusing, since it seems that Lurk would be more afraid of you if you simply killed all who stood in your way, rather than taking the slower and more tedious path of a non-lethal completion. After all, this is an organization of assassins.

Meantime, here’s a few hints for those who don’t want to rely heavily on complete walkthroughs:

Mission #1 (A Captain of Industry): On your way in, after you get past the first arc pylon and before you get to the wall of light, there’s an alleyway going off to your right. There’s a weeper corpse back there. Gather it up and carry it to the room overlooking the courtyard in front of the wall of light. You’ll want to use it later — along with the left eye of the whale in the slaughterhouse — to make a rune. It’s a lot easier to grab the corpse now than on your way back out.

There are three ways into the slaughterhouse — the sewer on the left side, the main gate in the front of the slaughterhouse, and an entrance high up the right side wall. The one of the the right is the easiest. This is also the best/fastest route for a quick non-lethal solution — once inside, keep climbing up as high as you can, go through the small opening/tunnel, and keep moving forward until you see the control room on your right. The main gate is the next easiest way in, and the sewer is the hardest.

If you want a low-chaos result, just ignore Abigail Ames after you choke/sleepdart Rothwild and instead follow the suggestion that Lurk gives you. Ames’ request will definitely end up with high chaos.

If you want credit for freeing the workers, you have to disable (unpower) the wall of light, not just rewire it. Curiously, you don’t have to do anything to the first arc pylon.

To get that last rune, you’ll have to electrocute the vivisected whale (to put it out of its misery), then get right under its left eye in order to reach up and remove it. After you’ve left the slaughterhouse, go back to the room where you left the weeper corpse and put the eye in the pot. Poof! Another rune. (The weeper corpse has to be there for this to happen.)

Finally, if you’re paying attention to the indicators on your way out, you’ll see that Lurk is now being held captive. You need to free her before you can exit the mission.

Mission #2 (Eminent Domain): The best powers to have here are Void Gaze II (equivalent to Dark Vision II), Blink II, and Agility I. If you’ve been diligent in Mission #1 and have purchased runes for Missions #1 and #2, you should have enough for at least one other power; for non-lethal, I’d recommend Bend Time I (2 runes); for lethal, take Summon Assassin and Shadow Kill (1 rune each). YMMV.

Also, consider purchasing one rewire device at the start of the mission and hold onto it past the initial alarm/wall of light. It will come in handy later.

Always go see Lurk up on the roof overlooking the Timsh mansion before tackling the mansion. She’s got lots of supplies and a key for the basement door.

For a non-lethal result, swap documents before dropping the bag in the ventilation system.

Mission #3 (The Surge): If you can get Agility II (along with Blink II) for this mission, it will help a lot. Learn to master the jump/freeze/aim/blink sequence.

Stop one floor below the top of the chain, head outside (carefully), and start work from there. Focus on freeing all the captured assassins (at least, the ones outside) before you go after Overseer Hume. It’s going to be tedious and dangerous; save often. Chokedust is your friend.

To free the captured assassins, walk around behind them and focus on the rope tying their hands; you’ll then get an “”Free Assassin” option.

Oh, and as a general note: the arc mine works wonders on a swarm of rats.  ..bruce..




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Category: Games, Main, Reviews

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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