Recently I got to play The Knife of Dunwall, a Dishonored DLC that regales us with the events that happen immediately after Empress Jessamine’s death and while Corvo is still imprisoned by the Lord Regent. Interestingly enough, it takes on the perspective of Daud, who you may recall as the Empresses’s murderer. This means that we take on an entirely new set of skills, and several new concepts come into play.
We learn that Daud is a skilled mercenary, specifically hired by Hiram Burrows to exact this crime. Daud’s lore haunts us throughout the main game as well– you hear characters talking about him in the background, find Sokolov paintings that have been done in his image, and I’m pretty sure that there are some texts about him lying around Dunwall. Still, he’s an enigma. The DLC doesn’t shed much light upon his past other than the fact that he’s been around for the reigns of many great people throughout Dunwall’s history, and has even had a hand in some of their “unfortunate downfalls.” Jessamine Kaldwin isn’t the first life he’s ended, but it’s the first to affect him so terribly.
The story begins with one question that defines the rest of Daud’s tale: was he right to kill the Empress? He did it for the money, but he’s seen how abhorrent things have gotten during Hiram’s short regime (the plague, the weepers, both petty and major crime, and the corruption of government officials,) and regrets his part in her violent end. The Knife of Dunwall features Daud and his band of assassins searching for an answer, both to the overlying question of the Empress’s death and the troubling whispers of a new villain on the horizon: Delilah. Who is Delilah? What does she want? And how do they stop her?
TKOD is one of the best DLCs that I’ve ever played: it is an entire game in itself. While not as long as Dishonored (obviously,) the story still packs a punch– and I’m so glad that the creators at Arkane Studios decided to focus on Daud, his story and how he feels about the atrocity he has committed. Daud is the perfect antihero, which makes him an endlessly intriguing character. While he makes an appearance in Dishonored, it is short and fairly objective: he’s just another assassination target. I guess if you get really into the story, you might have some strong feelings about him, but I just wanted the low chaos ending and that’s why I spared him. You do hear Daud talking to his right-hand men about his doubts over killing the Queen, but that’s the extent of his story. TKOD really goes in depth and spells out just how much regret our assassin feels– but instead of moping around and making long, dramatic monologues, Daud decides to do something about it. He wants to redeem himself, and so he decides to go about protecting Dunwall by engaging in a shadowy war with a faceless enemy.
The game play is very much the same, but you do get new powers; which is another point of importance– Daud has been marked by the Outsider, and you do get to interact with him in a few, essential scenes. It’s interesting to note that the Outsider seems a lot more dismissive of Daud, delegating our assassin with amused detachment. It can be argued that the Outsider is amusedly detached with everyone, but his relationship to Daud could be comparable to that of a negligent teacher with his forgotten protege. Daud means nothing to him, other than being a small source of entertainment. He does, however, display some modicum of interest in Daud’s sudden desire to atone for his sins.
Some of the new powers include the ability to summon assassins, your comrades and subordinates, who will offer helpful hints or fight for you in times of need. I didn’t end up using this much because I felt badly about bringing them into a fight; at the risk of sounding dumb, I’ll admit that they started feeling like my little ducklings. I was very protective of them. You can also use Void Gaze, which is a combination of Corvo’s “Dark Vision” ability and those of The Heart. Lastly, Daud can use the ability “Pull,” which is pretty self explanatory; at level one you can pull objects towards you, and at level two, you can drag enemies into your sword. You also have new gadgets like chokedust, which is a nonlethal way to stun your enemies, and arc mines that incinerate anyone caught within their radius. Daud’s special ability is “Arcane Bond,” which allows summoned assassins to use powers like Blink, Pull, allows them to move through Bend Time, Shadow Kill and increased health through Vitality.
This DLC is incredible, and for only ten dollars, a steal. It is a two-part story, followed by The Brigmore Witches, but that’s a review for another day. The best thing about The Knife of Dunwall is that, like Dishonored, its replay value is off the charts: there are dozens of ways to complete missions and Daud’s story has different High Chaos and Low Chaos endings. For ten dollars, you’re getting a game that you can play several times over again; if you buy Dishonored: the Definitive Edition, you’ll get all the DLCs and the main game for twenty bucks in all. If you’re interested in video games (I mean, you’re here…) this is one of the essentials that you can’t skip playing. Dishonored and its DLCs are a prime example of how storytelling can be successfully accomplished through interactive media, and I’m only getting more excited about the new game coming out in November. Though I don’t usually condone pre-orders, I’m seriously considering pre-ordering Dishonored 2.