Dishonored was one of my favourite games of 2012. While it had a number of flaws, at its core was an intelligent, liberating immersive sim (though I hate that genre label). DLC has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many gamers in the last few years but it seems that people are finally starting to be turned around. With developers like Arkane offering packages as substantial as the games they’re expanding on these additions get more and more tempting. The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches can contend with almost everything the original game has to offer, whilst also managing to avoid repeating many of its mistakes.
I am Daud. I don’t have that many emotions and I possess a debatable morality. I may save the world but only because things happened to go that way. I might kill some innocent guards and some misled witches but I might not.
All this makes Daud the perfect character for a game with so much choice and player agency. Whilst Corvo was never entirely believable as an indiscriminate killer Daud can fit the role (if you so choose) much more aptly. This made it much easier for me to enjoy the game to its full potential. While I played the original entirely non-lethally, effectively restricting my options and lowering my potential enjoyment of the game* here I wasn’t coy about using the occasional passing gang member as a fleshy cushion or about yanking a guard into the briny depths using the second DLC’s wonderful new Pull power (a more than acceptable replacement for Corvo’s Whirlwind).
While Dishonored’s level design deteriorated after the predictable twist, five of the DLC’s six missions keep to a consistently high standard (The Knife of Dunwall’s concluding mission is a fairly short cleanup job in a location we’ve seen before). As well as being fun to traverse, every level has its moments of visual impressiveness, with highlights including the ugly beauty** of the whale slaughterhouse, punctuated by the sad cries of the still living, suspended beast itself, and the pleasantly sunny and green Brigmore manor, populated by the eponymous witches in their dryadic garb.
Some of the old problems persist. You’ll grow tired of overhearing witches tell each other to shut up and again, the world itself is ultimately much more interesting and compelling than the main plot. However, the DLC, especially the Brigmore Witches, is populated by a number of clever and intriguing characters. The gradually revealed villain is a much finer fit than those seen before, dastardly and disturbing but not evil.
Despite offering multiple playstyles the game is still clearly not built with the gung-ho in mind, even more so than before. Rush through stabbing, shooting and arc mining everyone you see and you’ll probably be done in less than two hours. Like their parent, The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches are treats to be savoured and mulled over, not quick snacks to be scoffed and quickly forgotten. If you enjoyed Dishonored then it’s entirely likely that you’ll enjoy these additions even more.
*The old quicksave-massacre-quickload made for entertaining distractions here of course
**Is that a predictable oxymoron, perhaps it is