Doing Dirty DLC Deeds in Dunwall.
For $9.99 on PC and PS3 or 800 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360, The Knife of Dunwall delivers quite a bit of content: three new missions as Daud, the leader of the assassin group; The Whalers, killer of The Empress; and another individual graced with powers given by The Outsider. This is the first of two pieces of DLC starring Daud, showing his experiences at the same time as the events of the primary game.
The game opens with a cinematic of the attack on the Empress from Daud's perspective, after which he is visited by The Outsider and chastised. The story takes up six months later (around the same time that Corvo is escaping from prison) as Daud tracks down the clue that The Outsider left him: the name "Delilah."
Because of this, the DLC plays much more like a hard-boiled detective story than the Count of Monte Cristo revenge structure of Corvo's story. Daud, voiced by a gravely Michael Madsen, narrates like a battered private dick who knows from the black-eyed deity that he's only got so long before the world, or perhaps The Outsider, cashes in his chips.
Arkane Studios and Bethesda have not skimped on this DLC. The missions have the same amazing amount of content and variability of play as those in the Corvo storyline, with the general plot unfolding as you listen or look through a nearby keyhole (if you want to wait patiently to figure out what's going on). The gameplay is slightly altered to account for Daud's abilities and the lack of necessary player training. Although you could jump in and play The Knife of Dunwall as a stand-alone DLC without playing Dishonored, you'd probably be a little lost in terms of the story, combat, and powers.
Combat is the same, with the same blocking/counter and shooting mechanics. Daud has a few unique magical abilities, and some that streamline things a bit. His "Void Gaze," for instance, combines Corvo's Dark Vision and The Heart to let him see both enemies and runes. Corvo's Devouring Swarm is replaced by "Summon Assassin," which allows Daud to summon one of his soldiers to fight along his side.
Daud can also purchase favors, in addition to upgrades, before missions. These can range from buying a dropped-off rune to safe codes and other level-specific material. His Blink is slightly different as well, allowing him to freeze time when activated.
The Chaos system of the game is still in full effect. Perhaps my favorite moment in the entire DLC took place as I edged closer to the posh Legal district, passing through Hatter gang territory, which ran adjacent to a large guardsman presence. After killing several Hatters and sending the rest after me in High Chaos, I blinked into guard territory, and dashed up the side of a building to the rooftops. I had thought to lay low until the alarms grew quiet.
What I didn't expect was the tiny battle that ensued below, as the guards and the gang proceded to attack one another (with the gang almost completely eradicated). While High Chaos might not be the most desirable result in Dishonored's narrative, I watched with grim satisfaction as the guards and the gang blunted themselves against each other.
The Knife of Dunwall has some polishing issues; I got stuck behind a bookcase at one time that was a hidden door. There's also the general issue that, as lovely as the Chaos system is, the game seems to expect you to want a Low Chaos outcome as a moral imperative. However, if you get Low Chaos throughout, you don't get to do things like have the fun end-boss battle. But these are the same issues the main quest has as well.
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall is the best kind of DLC; it augments the original story but doesn't feel like it was removed from it to make a cheap dollar. It is more without making the rest lesser. Better yet, it provides something of an alternate perspective with new areas to explore and encounters with The Outsider and his influence outside of Corvo's. All in all, for anyone who enjoyed the main quest I highly recommend purchasing the DLC.
Code provided by publisher. Review based on Xbox 360 version. Also available on PS3, PC.