Wot I Think – Dishonored: The Knife Of Dunwall

By Alec Meer on April 18th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

The Knife of Dunwall is the second piece of extra content for Arkane’s splendid, if slightly cold, Dishonored, and the first which includes new missions proper. It came out a few days ago, I played it a few hours ago, and then I wrote this.

Let’s talk about time. The arrow to Dishonored’s knee, the Kyrptonite to its Superfella, the DRM to its SimCity. Playing in my usual way – comb every corner, climb every building, collect every coin – The Knife of Dunwall, the first story-based DLC for Arkane’s assassination game, lasted me around eight hours. I left no stone unturned, and I incapacitated every single enemy on each of its three levels. Then I went back to its first, and by a long shot best, mission and did it guns blazing, a speed run of blood and sirens, killing everyone in sight until I’d carved my way to my target. On Medium difficulty, it took me ten minutes.

While, admittedly, I was barely pausing to breathe, let alone soak in the atmosphere or take on side-missions, I was employing some strategy, using a range of gadgets and powers and solving a couple of puzzlettes necessary to progress to new areas. Ten minutes, that’s all. Neither of the other levels was appreciably bigger than this one, so if my semi-speed run could be repeated on those, anyone who approaches Dishonored as a straight-up barrage of action may well find this £8 DLC will last them half an hour.

The argument’s always been that Dishonored caters to all playstyles, and while that’s true I can’t pretend that anyone who wants a bloodfest isn’t going to feel disappointed. BioShock Infinite is a bloodfest, and divisively offers no option not to be, but it’s a bloodfest that lasts for ages even if you do choose to ignore all its sights and fiction and historical references. I admire Dishonored, and Knife of Dunwall, for trying to be all things to all men, but really it has to be played as a stealth game to at least some extent, despite its creators’ protestations. That’s the only way to give it quantity as well as quality.

I myself feel most satisfied by Knife of Dunwall, because I want to play it as a stealth game (and a non-lethal one at that). If your approach to Dishonored was similar, then I highly recommend Knife of Dunwall. If it wasn’t, I don’t, and you probably shouldn’t bother reading any more of this article. While this DLC does increase the game’s arsenal, it couldn’t be said to reinvent anything or meaningfully tackle any shortcomings.

Still here? I bid you welcome, creatures of the crouch. Knife of Dunwall, you’ll be pleased to hear, is three new levels of Dishonored doing what Dishonored does best. It’s the band shouting “one more time!” and performing an extra chorus just as the song seemed to be ending, and I found myself singing along lustily. There is a story around it, in which you play as sometime nemesis of Dishonored’s Corvo, the assassin for hire Daud, but unfortunately that aspect of the game is even more underwhelming than Dishonored’s notoriously flat narrative. There are initial attempts to make Daud a conflicted figure in search of redemption after murdering the Empress at the start of the original game, but the game doesn’t do a whole lot with it, quickly turning its attention to a messy, hurried tale of conspiracy by people you barely see, let alone get a meaningful sense of their motivation. Michael Madsen, voicing Daud, doesn’t help – while he has the requisite gravelly tones, there are times when he sounds suspiciously as though he doesn’t entirely understand his lines. Though frankly I don’t blame him.

Also complicating matters is a degree of cognitive dissonance. Daud might have a few different powers and gizmos to Corvo, but playing as him feels so very similar in practice that I often forgot I was supposed to be someone else entirely. Stemming from that, I realised that I would be entirely happy for Dishonored to be simply an episodic game, a series of standalone missions with no need to care about the who and why, instead serving only my own preferences and goals. In every Dishonored mission, I’ve been so much more invested in ensuring the Ghost and Non-lethal boxes are ticked on the end of level summary screen than I am in what it means for the characters or world. Arkane know full well how much they’re playing to a certain crowd there, and I thank them for it.

Mattersare a little different, a little more confusing in Knife of Dunwall, in that my own motivations clashed with Daud’s far more than they ever did with than Corvo’s. I wanted to be a methodical, non-lethal, unhurried ghost, whereas the game depicts, or at least implies, him as being a man of blood and cruelty. Sure, his own dialogue and very occasional observations by NPCs did reflect upon my choice to essentially alter his motivations and behaviour, but really I was more comfortable with the blank slate that was Corvo. He allowed for a certain death of the author that the intermittently reflective Daud does not.

Onto the game proper, though. It’s not quite business as usual. Enemy headcounts have the appearance of being raised, and the levels more populous, a little trickier to safely navigate, but as far as I can tell that’s because of how it places its guards and thugs rather than simply because there are more of them in there. It’s rarer to find, say, a couple of guys conveniently standing or walking with their backs to you, so usually there’ll now be a third guy whose movements are subtly made to ensure there’s almost always someone looking at you.

Or, as I discovered in what became a Weekend At Bernie’s-style corpse-hauling farce, patrol routes seem to criss-cross a little more. Some days, you just can’t get rid of a body. With a snoring Overseer over my shoulder, I couldn’t seem to teleport anywhere without hearing the dread ‘briiiing!’ which meant somehow had caught a glimpse of me. I ran and I jumped and I Blinked and it felt like I couldn’t pause for a milisecond, but somehow, finally, I managed to find an unmonitored spot for that slumbering fellow, so blissfully unaware of my swearing and sweating. It’s the gentle, subtle escalation in challenge (for a stealther) that makes this DLC work so well, far above and beyond the new weapons and an oddly incomplete story (real resolution, together with a likely face-off against a new Big Bad, has been saved for a further DLC chunk).

If you do opt for a more violent route (again, better done hybridised with stealth rather than a straight-up oddyssey of bloodshed), Daud has some effective tools, gained at the expense of some of the more esoteric powers such as Possession. Arc Mines are hilariously deadly, able (once upgraded) to atomise a roomful of bads in a heartbeat, while the temporarily-immobilising Choke Powder is a brilliant way for non-lethal types to deal with one of those aforementioned packs of guards you can’t otherwise whittle down safely. Best of all is the Assassin summoning power, which sees Daud calling in a mate for some temporary assistance. Do it right (i.e. hide in the background, helping your chum out with some unseen sniping) and you can see a bunch of guards messily slain without taking a hit, and without the denizens of the level being aware that you were ever there. Your assassin takes the rap for you, essentially. He’s also a handy get out of a jail free card if you find yourself in a tricky spot: summon him up as a meatshield between you and whoever’s charging towards you.

Together or alone, these new tricks don’t change the nature of this not-very-old dog, but they do serve to help stop the formula from feeling stale. As do some wonderfully tricksy, involved Rune hunts, which require actual thought and exploration even from the most shameless objective marker scummer.

Of the three levels, one is largely a repeat – of the assassin headquarters we saw late in Dishonored – another is quite obviously assembled from familiar parts of other ones, but the first is brand new and contains some of Dishonored’s most striking imagery yet. I don’t want to say or show too much, but let’s just say that anyone hoping for a bit more insight into Dunwall’s whale oil-based economy is in for a gruesome treat. This map, unlike the other two, also contains a couple of new enemy types, one of which you most certainly don’t want to end up toe-to-toe with. In small details too this mission feels lavish – for instance, a canteen, complete with menu, for the workers there, serving no purpose other than to flesh out Dunwall’s society. I do love that stuff.

It’s not quite as much of a possibility space as Lady Boyle’s Party Or The Golden Cat, but it’s definitely in the upper echelons of Dishonored missions. The other, plainer levels are disappointing by contrast. not really doing anything to prompt frantic screenshot-taking. Still, in terms of challenge and Dishonored’s signature freedom of engagement, they do the trick.

I thought about spending half this piece talking about what Dishonored gets right compared to BioShock Infinite, but screw it. Whatever metatextuality the apologists want to use to excuse Binfinite’s unliving world and however much the absolutists want to dismiss the entire thing because they don’t like its focus on violence, it is a game based on shooting whereas Dishonored is a game based on navigation. They aren’t trying to do the same thing, so the comparison is inherently an artificial one. What I will say instead is that, going back to Dunwall after Columbia, Dishonored’s technical compromises on PC really show. Far too many low-res, blurry textures, a couple too many invisible barriers, no native support for anisotropic filtering or proper anti-aliasing… O, tragedy! I love the art approach as much as I ever did, but ultimately the game does look more dated than a 2012/13 PC game should. It’s a shame, because in concept and in art alike, this is a game that deserved the fanciest PC version possible, but once again those damnable consoles won out.

That said, not so long ago it rather seemed as though there was no hope of getting games which offered this much player agency on that kind of budget, so I remain exceedingly grateful for Dishonored regardless of how much I wish its PC version could have had more TLC. A rarity for DLC, Knife of Dunwall winds up increasing my affection for the game overall, and my enthusiasm for Dunwall as place for play. It’s sad to see Dishonored still struggle so with plotting and characterisation, but with the passage of time I find I’m simply not fussed about that side of things anyway. I wanted more, full-fat Dishonored and Knife of Dunwall gave it to me. Job dun.

Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall is out now, via download.

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72 Comments »

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  1. Jason Moyer says:

    “BioShock Infinite is a bloodfest, and divisively offers no option not to be, but it’s a bloodfest that lasts for ages even if you do choose to ignore all its sights and fiction.”

    BioShock Infinite took me about 19 hours and that includes an hour or so of fapping around with the benchmarking stuff, plus a full replay of the first 3-4 hours after I realized that 1999 mode is awful.

    Dishonored took me around 40 hours and that was a straight, single playthrough (I have both DLC’s, but haven’t started either yet).

    Not that I want to imply that game length is in any way related to quality.

    • lordcooper says:

      Sure, but what Alec was saying there is that if you play Dishonored as a bloodfest you’ll get far less than those 15 hours out of it.

      • akrammalik956 says:

        If you think Catherine`s story is impressive,, five weeks ago my bro basically got paid $7987 just sitting there a thirteen hour week from there house and the’re buddy’s mom`s neighbour was doing this for three months and got paid over $7987 parttime at There laptop. follow the instructions available here, http://bic5.com/

    • Klarden says:

      Game length is almost never related to quality, I’m glad you’re not implying this.

      Anyway, fun to see yet another person who went with Konami code, tried to play 1999 mode in Infinite then realised just how stupid it is and replayed the game from the start on a normal/hard difficulty. Wen through that myself.

      • matt606 says:

        I went through 1999 as my first play through. It’s not difficult, it’s just cheap. I would get into an encounter, headshot a few guys, then pull everyone else to Dollar Bill and would buy bullets or health whenever I got low. THAT WAS FUN.

        I lost so much of the narrative on that run that I replayed the game on easy my second time through.

        • Ernesto25 says:

          How did you do it first time it was an unlock after you beat the game? :
          i couldn’t help play 1999 mode without rolling my eyes and i stopped after a while
          I know it not literal but in 1999 we had Quicksaves, more than 2 weapons , no regenerating health and we stayed dead as the norm.

          incidentally i switched top easy because SPOILER the fight with lady comstock was wasting my time i beat her once lost aload of money form respawning in her fov and dying. Then had to fight her two more times at that point i was playing fro the story than gunplay as the pacing was off for me in the 2nd act.

          Back to the game in and it sounds like ill wait for the price to be further reduced before trying this although dishonored wasn’t a game i particularly wanted more dlc for much like bioshock 2 although minerva’s den has a good rep.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            “How did you do it first time it was an unlock after you beat the game? ”

            No. It can be unlocked immediately via the Konami code.

          • dagefukuan says:

            I had that problem watching the four-player co-op as well. Try watching this solo play video, it makes it all seem much easier to follow:

            http://youtu.be/GKPqqD_0vJo

          • Snowskeeper says:

            OH MY GODS THE MARKETING BOTS ARE GROWING BRAINS.
            S-Someone hold me…

          • Premium User Badge

            Sinomatic says:

            This is how skynet starts.

        • Rub3z says:

          I played through Bioshock Infinite first on hard, then properly unlocked 1999 for a second playthrough. Also, using a Dollar Bill in 1999 mode just spoils it. In fact, after going for that achievement, I realized that purchasing anything from a Dollar Bill machine in any difficulty level was completely pointless, and it actually serves the gameplay better (or my own enjoyment of the game at least) to not use them whatsoever. Once you wean yourself off the Dollar Bill machine, you’ll actually find the game incredibly rewarding.

      • Iskariot says:

        Indeed gamelength is not related to quality. But a high quality game that is over in the blink of an eye is not something I wish to pay for. Not at all saying I think this DLC is just that.
        But in general I always take the average playing time into account to decide how much money I am willing to pay. As a rule of thumb I never pay full price for games that are shorter than 12 hours (replay value is also important). These days many games are only 8 hours long. I never pay more than 10 bucks (euro) for them.
        The game play length for the price is about right, but considering this is a DLC (of which in general I am not a fan at all for multiple reasons) I will buy this in a sale.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Ew. I hope you meant “faffing”.

    • Badfinger says:

      Funny enough, the quantity/quality and haste with which you could just kill people and be done is probably a mark in Dishonored’s favor. People have been critical of the fact that Bioshock wants to tell this involved and overarching story, but that just like other FPS games you have to become history’s greatest killer to see it.

      With Dishonored, they create an area and fill it with a relatively realistic number of people. If you decide you want to go on a murderous rampage and just cut through and end them all, well yeah for an efficient assassin it’s probably only going to take those 10-20 minutes. Even though you’re dealing with magical fantasy powers it’s much more realistic that if you horribly kill all 25 people guarding a city block with no regard for life or limb it won’t take very long. You can’t have a realistic area like a warehouse, but then ALSO have a 3 hour murderfest.

      People who judge games based on a certain hours/dollar metric probably won’t agree with me, but I think it’s actually well balanced to give you a true to life (death) experience.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thurgret says:

      Genuine question: how did you/others with a similar experience get 40 hours out of Dishonored? My playthrough took 12 altogether. I didn’t kill anyone on most of the levels, and while I think I only ghosted one or two, it was rare that I alerted anyone more than once — notably, outside the Boyles’ party, I buggered up getting round a tallboy, and seem to have netted the achievement for eluding five enemies at once without killing them or leaving the area. That’s the only real screw-up I can think of.

  2. cauldron says:

    I hate to be like that, but :
    That’s the only way to give it quantity as well as quantity.

    There’s a problem here.

  3. Ross Angus says:

    Here’s the DLC I’d like to play: breaking out Lady Boyle from her basement. Then freeing the Pendleton twins from that mine. Or am I missing the point?

    • Justin Keverne says:

      I’d play that, infiltrate a mine to identify and free the Pendletons, locate some creepy guy’s house and free the trapped Lady Boyle, maybe break into prison to release the Lord Regent. That could be great.

      • Ross Angus says:

        I never thought of the Lord Regent. Hm. He *was* bad, though. But so were the twins. Boyle was just bankrolling people though, right? Moral grey areas.

        That’s the thing: the heart told me about the guard who would kill three people the next day, and I *still* couldn’t kill him.

        • Phantoon says:

          When the queen told me that someone was a monster, I’d end them. In doing so, I reduced the amount of horrible people in the city to something closer to one- just me. At the end, I was a mass murderer, but I was also the ONLY mass murderer.

          Got the good ending despite my killing of so many people.

          • Triplanetary says:

            Got the good ending despite my killing of so many people.

            Wait, does the game’s chaos rating really relate to the good/evil nature of the guards you choose to kill rather than spare? I thought I had killed a fairly tame number of people (was mostly stealthy) but I ended up getting the bad ending. I hadn’t been basing any decisions to kill on the heart’s descriptions of people, though. Didn’t know it made a difference!

          • Shooop says:

            It depends entirely on a three values Triplanetary:

            – The number of people you kill
            – The number of times you were seen and raised an alarm
            – How many side quests you completed (doing them reduces your chaos rank)

          • Triplanetary says:

            Makes sense. Thanks! In my case I must have raised too many alarms (I did all the sidequests).

          • Ansob says:

            That is wrong – it doesn’t count alarms.

            Whether you get low or high chaos is almost entirely based on whether you killed less or more than 20% of the level’s population. That’s it.

            Some side tasks also raise chaos (poisoning the elixir still) or lower it (helping innocents), but those only really help nudge you either way if you’re just barely going over/under the 20% mark.

          • Triplanetary says:

            According to the wiki, if you do all the chaos-decreasing sidequest objectives (such as saving Curnow) and avoid the chaos-increasing ones, over the course of the entire game, you can kill up to 50% of the population of each level. I think 80/20 is the baseline without those factors, though.

    • bladedsmoke says:

      I like the idea of freeing Lady Boyle. The Pendleton twins, though? They can rot in those slave mines for all I care. They owned them in the first place!

    • Xocrates says:

      Frankly, I quite liked the idea that the non-lethal takedowns were often worse than if you straight-up murdered them.

      That said, I’m still not sure why Lady Boyle was a target (though her level was awesome)

      • PopeBob says:

        Lady Boyle, the Lord Regent’s mistress, was bankrolling his military expansionism. Instilling fear not only in the Boyle sisters but also in all remaining nobles in parliament serves the purpose of cutting Burrows’ lifeline.

        • Xocrates says:

          I’m aware of that, it just doesn’t make much sense. Not least of which because on the mission proper she doesn’t seem particularly attached to the Regent. Frankly the only reason she’s a target is because it’s a game about assassination.

          • Snowskeeper says:

            He was a powerful politician. She’s attached to him because he’s powerful, not because he’s handsome or she’s in love with him or anything like that. Killing her does serious damage to the Regent’s bankroll.

          • Xocrates says:

            But that’s the thing. If she’s only attached to him because he’s powerful, there is no reason she would continue supporting him once he’s eliminated – lethally or not. Frankly, it’s even reasonable to assume she could change to your side, particularly if you contacted her noting the Lord Regent was about to fall and given her guarantees for what came after.

  4. Ansob says:

    I have some serious issues with the ending to this one, which almost entirely stem from the completely stupid binary low/high chaos system and mean the DLC misses part of its own theme by a mile.

    Also, for the £6.40 I paid for it, I would still say it’s too short. Cliffhanger ending notwithstanding, it would definitely have benefited from a fourth level – the Delilah is mentioned several times in the first mission then never brought up again, but a whaling ship would have made a fantastic mission locale.

    • Justin Keverne says:

      Care to expand on your issues? I saw the Low Chaos ending and it some of the reveals were a little sudden but no more than that.

      • Ansob says:

        In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ve pasted a post I made elsewhere onto pastebin:

        **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS**
        http://pastebin.com/Lmizvssf
        **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS**

        Seriously, that link contains spoilers.

        • Justin Keverne says:

          I saw Chaos differently, it’s binary but it’s not about morality so much as efficiency. Killing your targets and only your targets is efficient, killing everybody and making a lot of noise is inefficient, messy and arguably unnecessary. Poetically removing your targets is also efficient though arguably less exact, dead men tell no tales. In the case of some of your targets the non-lethal options are far more morally ambiguous than murder, I’m thinking specifically of Lady Boyle.

          Daud and The Whalers are efficient, that’s something that’s referenced multiple times in the main game and the DLC, they are not indiscriminate; the Chaos system makes a little less sense with them though as a measure of professional efficiency it still works. Given how challenging it is to get through certain levels without killing anybody doing so shows that whatever his actions Daud still has a significant degree of skill.

          Though I won’t argue that a third way would have worked, and potentially made for a neater range of possible outcomes.

          As for the motivations of a certain character, the implication I drew was that deals had been made that would mean Daud’s “talents” were no longer necessary.

          • Ansob says:

            It’s not about efficiency, though – the low chaos endings are very much the good endings, whereas the high chaos endings are very much the evil ones. Like I pointed out, this is especially obvious for the DLC since whether you get the good or bad ending is based on whether you were low or high chaos, not how good an assassin you were. This is especially especially the case given the nature of the ending plot twist, and the motivations involved!

            Good point on the Outsider powers, though; don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

          • Amnesiac says:

            In fairness I’d rate an assassin by how cleanly they are able to dispose of their target.

            So someone that slaughters a path to their target (high chaos) isn’t a very good assassin. While someone that can remove their target without killing anyone or even being seen (low chaos) is an exceptional assassin.

          • Ansob says:

            The point is that an assassin who doesn’t actually kill their target but knocks them out and makes them leave town for six months is a fucking terrible assassin.

        • diestormlie says:

          **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS**
          Perhaps Billie Lurk remembered that you’ve got the Outsider Mark and thus its a really stupid, and her response after that is determined by your actions:
          Low Chaos:
          She decides that you’ll spare her, and so fesses up.
          High chaos:
          Decides that you’ll kill her anyway, now or later, because of what she’s done. Why bother waiting?
          My take on it.
          **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS**

  5. Justin Keverne says:

    I thought I’d been thorough and I have no idea where the fourth image (with the bleeding hand) is from.

  6. Radiant says:

    Dear RPS pretty soon we’re going to run out of opportunities to drop a pet shop boys reference in a west end town of Dunwall post.

    You’re wasting your goes!

    • Ross Angus says:

      I’m still waiting for a joke about how the art style was developed. My theory is that it was a misunderstanding: the art team heard the project lead congratulating them with the phrase “let’s give them all a big hand”, and took it as an instruction.

  7. Low Life says:

    The problem with this DLC is that it appears just as I was starting to get used to running around in other FPS games.

  8. FFabian says:

    I started playing the DLC today and I’m seriously confused how to play this one. As Corvo I played non-lethal stealthy ’cause I got the vibe that he is the “good guy” and I like playing the good guy. Knife of Dunwall makes it obvious that it expects different from the player – stealthy but lethal.

    Meh I like the added challenge of playing non-lethal and I want to be the nice guy (and see the good/low chaos ending) but I have the distinct feeling I’m playing “out of character”. How many and which guys are you allowed to kill and still get the low-chaos ending?

    • Justin Keverne says:

      You can get away with killing about 20% of the people and still get the Low Chaos ending. For me I felt if the Empress’ death was to be truly redemptive for Daud he should not kill anybody anymore, and that’s what I did. Wasn’t easy though, especially in the final level.

    • Phantoon says:

      I killed tons of people in my playthrough of the core game, and got low chaos every mission somehow. I think it was because alarms generally couldn’t be raised due to both my planning and swiftness, and corpses weren’t seen unless it was to distract from a blink stab/choke.

  9. Grinnbarr says:

    I found that this set of tweaks made the game look a whole lot better, and its all completely tweakable so that if you don’t like the presets you can just fiddle til it looks how you like it. Played up to Kaldwin’s Bridge without it, the difference after applying it is like night and day:

  10. tormos says:

    why on earth is this tagged as an ultromegafeature? You got my hopes up, mr Meer

    • Premium User Badge

      colossalstrikepackage says:

      Three reasons, right off the top of my head:
      1. It’s Meer. All his works must be read, because of quality. Those unfamiliar with his work are just being politely signposted here. Only seems fair!
      2. It convinced me to play the DLC of an awesome game that I was afraid would be ruined by having a regicidal maniac as the lead. I’m glad I can relive the original’s rare ability to be a bloodless ninja.
      3. Please refer to point 1.

  11. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    On the issue of length, I think the true problem is the weak story. It’s all but impossible to truly care about the characters of Dishonored, and the plot is largely predictable. The only real enjoyment you can get from the game is the actual mechanics (this is not necessarily true of, say, Planescape: Torment or Mass Effect) and having it constrained by a narrative you can’t get invested in makes an initial playthrough feel too short, period, because what you want–the only thing you want–is more levels. Imagine if Super Mario Galaxy had cut the number of levels in half because they had a serviceable if predictable storyline involving Mario rescuing Peach, complete with poor performances and uninteresting characters, which was wrapped up in those levels.

    And even playing relatively thoroughly can be unsatisfying. Corvo is an assassin, and I wanted to feel like one, not some tourist taking in the sights.

    The game’s saving grace is its replayability, where its brevity becomes a virtue rather than a sin. I was much more forgiving of it the second time around.

    • Yglorba says:

      Corvo is an assassin, and I wanted to feel like one

      This was my problem, too. I like player agency, but I felt that they did it wrong (especially with the collectables and the cash / runes that carry over from level to level sequentially.) The problem is that this encourages players to act in a way that doesn’t really fit the game.

      If you compare this to, say, Hitman: Blood Money (or any of the good Hitman games), I think Hitman does a much better job of giving you choices while still making them fundamentally choices that some version of 47 would make. Dishonored has you scrounging for pocket-change during missions, which makes no sense at all.

      Technically you can collect weapons in Hitman, but that’s much more optional — and you can go back and collect them later, so there’s no real pressure to do it the first time you play through a mission. Likewise, the money rewards in Blood Money are all things that make sense from an in-character position.

      I think part of the problem was that they based Dishonored heavily on Thief, even though the character isn’t, well, a thief; and sometimes this results in conceptual weirdness.

      • iantomasik says:

        Well, Corvo is bodyguard actually. But I see where are you coming from … Problem is, that whole game was marketed as bloodfest with all those creative kills and revenge motives, but it’s actually explore adventure in a way. That was reason why I almost missed it and why are you frustrated with what you got:) Blame on PR.

  12. Triplanetary says:

    In small details too this mission feels lavish – for instance, a canteen, complete with menu, for the workers there, serving no purpose other than to flesh out Dunwall’s society. I do love that stuff.

    Me too. Dishonored’s story is weak, but its worldbuilding is very strong, and was certainly my favorite aspect of the game. This paragraph alone is enough to convince me to buy the DLC.

    • Upper Class Twit says:

      I don’t understand how Arkane could have developed this specific problem. It doesn’t make sense to me, as someone who has never developed games before. I would assume that the world building would actually be harder than the proper story. You’d need the writers coordinating with the artists coordinating with the designers for that to work, and Dishonored seems like a game where this is the case. Story, characters, and dialogue though? Seems like all you’d need is a couple decent writers; not exactly a talent in abundance, but I’d figure that they would have the money to find someone, considering they got the Half Life 2 dude for their “architecture” or whatever.

      • Xocrates says:

        This is not hard to understand at all, actually.

        See, games are generally designed concept/gameplay first, story later. What usually ends up happening is that you have several levels and setpieces before having decided what the final plot actually is. – This is usually why early previews tend to have content that’s either absent or significantly changed in the final game, as well as the final game having content that doesn’t make much sense in context or is only loosely tied together.

        I would not be surprised if Arkane designed whole levels – and consequently, defined the world they took place in – far before they settled on the final plot of the game.

        EDIT: A good example on Dishonored’s case. Lady Boyle’s level was used in previews, meaning it was done fairly early, but there is very little story reason for you to actually go there in the game proper. I suspect that particular level was designed as a “vertical slice” of gameplay before its place in the story being properly defined.

      • Triplanetary says:

        In addition to what Xocrates said, the standards for video game writing just aren’t very high. In general I would classify Dishonored’s story as “fine.” It mostly slides to the background and is inoffensive. If it were a movie, or especially a book, I probably wouldn’t bother with it. And that’s the key right there.

        I’ll tolerate mediocrity in a video game story where I wouldn’t tolerate it in a movie or book because a video game has other things going for it, things like visuals and gameplay. (I will occasionally give a movie a pass on weak storytelling if the visuals are impressive. Examples: Sunshine, The Avengers.) Dishonored can stand on the strength of its worldbuilding and gameplay because, unlike a book or movie, it gives me the ability to linger and examine these things.

        And since the studios know we’ll tolerate weak stories, sometimes they don’t bother trying that hard. I suppose sometimes the writers are just phoning it in; often I feel like they don’t realize how mediocre they are, because the creative directors of the game they’re writing for will give their mediocre writing a pass because they’re not concerned about it. I’ve read books written by video game writers (such as the Mass Effect novels, written by the lead writer of the games), and I’ve yet to encounter one that was any good.

      • NathanH says:

        Finally, they may have decided that they were simply much more interested in the worldbuilding than in the story. After all, it’s a game that’s clearly designed to be about wandering around exploring nooks and crannies. This lends itself to glimpses-of-the-world. You don’t spend all that much time in Dishonoured directly interacting with plot elements. In most missions, simply reaching the building where the target is takes most of your time.

        You can even imagine that a particularly compelling plot would even work *against* the game. I don’t want to be really excited about finding out what happens next in the story, because I want to take five hours over every mission. I want to be excited about what I might find around the next corner. I think Dishonoured did this reasonably well, although it fell into the common trap of making a caricature of a grim world rather than an actual grim world.

  13. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Dishonoured was far and away my game of the year for 2012 and ranks alongside my favourite titles, so really I would be satisfied for arbitrarily more of the same, nice to see it delivers.

    I did have a minor revelation that basically my favourite titles are all of the “0451” lineage, that famous allusion as first code used in Deus Ex, System Shock, Human Revolution, Dishonored, Bioshock & Infinite. I hope Thief continues this wonderful track record.

  14. AntonThaGreat says:

    Wow, the shirt texture on the last screenshot is just ridiculous. How the fuck did that pass Quality? The texture is literally 32×32 pixels.

    • DestructibleEnvironments says:

      Yeah! I cancelled my pre-order and will boycott Arkane Studios and any Harvey Smith creations from this day on. Unbelievable!

      PS: Unreal Engine 3 and texture streaming.

  15. randomizer885 says:

    Agreed! Both the original Dishonored campaign and this DLC kinda fail on telling a good story for the main character, but it’s the detailed world and its mysterious backstories that are truly interesting. I hope though that the Dishonored sequel(which most likely is gonna happen)will succeed better on the main plot while not taking anything out of the rich world.

    Btw with a sequel one part of me wishes for it to have some sort of multiplayer as well. It’s not really something Dishonored needs, but done right I think the brilliant mechanics of Dishonored could make for some really fun and unique mp. A competitive multiplayer I actually think could be cool since this game isn’t just another shooter. I imagine it would be awesome to have battles while blinking around the place. Although I also imagine it could turn into a long play of cat and mouse. Idk, but provided it’s clever and doesn’t take too much out of the single player, I think having multiplayer could be epic.

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