Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall DLC Hands-On Preview – A Knife in the Dark
Written Friday, March 22, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Remember the beginning of Dishonored? The moment when Corvo is framed for the murder of the Empress by Daud and his assassins? Well you're about to get a reminder, as Dishonored's next piece of DLC portrays the entire incident from Daud's perspective, with his brigade of hooded miscreants in tow. Our hands-on demo opens with this very sequence of events, transporting us back to Dishonored's prologue, where Daud presides over the misdeeds as they unfold.
From the off it's clear that The Knife of Dunwall is a full-fat Dishonored add-on and nothing like previous DLC, the Dunwall City Trials. Featuring three full-length missions playing as the gravel-voiced Daud himself (voiced by Michael Madsen), you get to take on new contracts with targets to dispatch, with all of the multiple routes through levels and fully-realised narrative backdrop you'd expect from Dishonored, complete with texts to read, items to collect and plenty of incidental detail to soak up.
As one of eight assassins bearing the mark, early on Daud encounters The Outsider who simply offers the name 'Delilah' as a solitary clue in a mystery you'll need to unravel while searching for atonement. Who or what is 'Delilah'? You'll have to find out as you progress. Setting upon a path to track down and take care of Bundry Rothchild as his first assignment, we forge ahead as Daud through the dank streets leading towards our quarry. Rothchild is the unscrupulous owner of his self-named whale slaughterhouse, which he runs like a prison, keeping his employees downtrodden with stringent rules and restrictions. They're not even allowed to take time off. It's like working for Dan Webb.
Daud has his very own arcane powers to call upon, including a variation of Corvo's staple 'Blink' teleportation ability, which momentarily slows time if you're moving forward during use. Dark Vision is out of the equation for The Knife of Dunwall however, with Daud's Void Gaze filling in. This highlights and detects items like runes or bone charms, but it doesn't allow you to see enemies and their cone of vision through walls, making for a much sterner challenge in comparison to playing as Corvo. Daud can upgrade his agility, vitality and other attributes like Corvo, and he has a few unique tricks of his own up his sleeve.
You're also able to gather information from Daud's network of spies using 'Favors', granting hints for side-missions, such as safe codes, rune locations and other clues. His abilities also extend to being able to call upon an ally using the 'Summon Assassin' skill, conjuring a masked lackey to temporarily fight for you. You can use this as a handy distraction if you're smart, slipping past guards while they're occupied with fighting off your buddy, whose powers you can also buff with the Arcane Bond power. You've got chokedust grenades and arc mines in your arsenal too, providing non-fatal and fatal projectiles respectively. Chokedust grenades are perfect for getting out of a sticky situation, blinding and incapacitating guards for a valuable few seconds, for instance.
During our hands-on play time with The Knife of Dunwall, we're able to take the high or low ground into the Rothwild Slaughterhouse once we've bypassed a Wall of Light blocking the way in, or there's the high chaos option offered via attempting to get in through the front door. Screw that though. Certain death lays that way, so we opt to go around the side, evading the royal guards and encountering the far less threatening butchers and their machetes. Using Daud's wristbow (a natty wrist-mounted crossbow), we're able to plug the two patrolling butchers with sleep darts, before powering up a control panel with whale oil and moving a length of chain suspended from a crane into position.
Climbing the chain, we're able to enter the slaughterhouse undetected, scaling the indoor catwalks and rafters while keeping an eye on the whale butchers roaming the killing floor below. These butchers are armed with huge circular saws and won't hesitate to slice your face off, meaning we're better off slinking across the shadowy beams spanning the ceiling of the cavernous warehouse. Making our way through an open vent leading through into the main area of the slaughterhouse, we edge closer to Rothwild's office, meaning more butchers to creep past and a poor tortured whale being drained for its valuable fuel.
You can put the whale out of its misery if you have the time and inclination to do so, and then Blink your way up to Rothwild, who's chatting with a girl. Sidling up behind Rothwild, we throttle him unconscious and then talk to the girl, Abigail Ames, who happens to know a bit about who or what Delilah might be. The next step would have been to dispose of Rothwild (lethal or nonlethal: your call) and turn a bunch of valves to raise the pressure in the slaughterhouse to presumably blow it sky-high, but regrettably we ran out of time.
The Knife of Dunwall is exactly the kind of DLC we've wanted to see for Dishonored, expanding upon the storyline in a meaningful and exciting way, offering a divergent perspective to the events of the main game, while providing more missions of similar size and structure. We might have only played through one of the three missions from Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall, yet we're thoroughly convinced that it'll be a genuinely worthwhile and substantial chunk of content that should prove utterly essential. Bring it on, Daud.
Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall will be heading to the Xbox Live Marketplace on April 16th for 800 Microsoft Points.