In departing from original hero Corvo and casting you as his nemesis, the Empress-killing Daud, The Knife of Dunwall gives itself room to breathe. You witness familiar events from extremely different perspectives, whilst seeing more of Dunwall's detestable underbelly. Most importantly, the world's key events are given more depth, rather than stretching one character's extraneous sub-stories too thin for this expansion to handle.
This perspective switch is clear from the opening assassination; the same murder that spurs on Corvo's quest for revenge. Wracked by guilt and determined to uncover the mystery behind the name Delilah, Daud goes in search of answers. It's a compelling story from bloody start to abrupt end, and Daud is everything that Corvo wasn't. He has a voice, and an unmistakable presence that Corvo lacked. Where Corvo was a blank slate, Daud arrives fleshed-out, and the story is better for it.
Straight to the point
Choice is still everywhere, from major objectives to your personal play style. Daud has fewer powers, but new gear like arc mines and smoke bombs, and the ability to summon an assassin, fill the gap. Tweaks have been made to Daud's powers, too. Blinking now freezes you in stasis when used mid-air, and you can't see through walls with Void Gaze (a new take on Dark Vision) till you've maxed the ability out.
Level design still invites experimentation, but your tool set nudges you towards combat rather than stealth. The tougher difficulty means you'll likely rely trial and error to get the perfect stealth run, and Daud's arsenal often feels against you if you're not getting into bloody combat.
If there's anything that vanilla Dishonored could have offered more of, it's Dunwall. With two new locations - a stinking whale slaughterhouse, and an area called the legal district - you get some excellent new places to see, so it's disappointing to retread ground in the final mission.
It's also confusing to have such an unsatisfying ending when the initial intrigue is so powerful. Granted, Daud's conclusion comes later in a future DLC expansion, but The Knife of Dunwall is quite obviously severed in two, and the story never gets into its stride. Another lengthy wait, then, but any chance to see more Dunwall and we'll come blinkin'.
By Sam White. Buy Knife of Dunwall here for 800 MP.
All the best of Dishonored, but conclusion is lacking