Wot I Think: Dishonored – The Brigmore Witches

When I saw that Dishonored was going to have additional DLC missions I was worried that it might wander off the beautiful path that the original game created. It was all too possible that any additions might seem like bad fan fiction for the original, quite neatly encapsulated, game. Corvo’s story was so complete that would be very odd to see “further adventures of”, or anything of that ilk. Arkane, of course, chose wisely in this regard. They chose Daud, the troubled master assassin defeated by Corvo in the original game. And Daud, I am beginning to feel, makes for a better experience than Corvo ever could.

The Brigmore Witches, then, is very much worth playing.

Following on from Daud’s first-first-person appearance in Knife Of Dunwall, this new story is a complex, heavy branch of additional fiction in the Dishonored world. Daud shares many of the same powers and opportunities as Corvo – he can blink, fire sleep darts, find bone charms, and visit the Outsider shrines, for example – but these DLCs aren’t something written as an ode to the original. Nor are they even really an addendum to Corvo’s story, despite that tale being intertwined with Daud’s adventure. This it’s own entity, like a rapacious vine on a tree. It is a healthy secondary event that wraps itself around the trunk of original structure and then builds on it, growing ferociously.

Games like this are brew made of one part moment-to-moment action, one part atmosphere and environment, and one part story. The first of those two things it borrows from Dishonored, of course, but adds some spice of its own: Daud’s personality and oeuvre, as well as the people he associated with. As for the last part, well, I don’t really want to say much about the story here, suffice to say that it has the characterful and threatening big bad that Dishonored itself lacked, and that it hooks pleasingly into familiar locations, and familiar characters.

The Brigmore Witches is thrilling multi-path romp. Ugly and bloody. There’s much that’s new here too, and the way that enormous structure of new Dunwall people and places intersects with revisited locations – such as the prison Corvo escaped from at the start of his own adventure – provides a rich canvas for Daud’s unpleasant supernatural actions.

During the long-hyped run up to Dishonored’s release, much was said about the game essentially being a power fantasy. It was a stealth game, sure, but it was one where revenge and inhuman power were freely available. It was about empowering players, said the developers, as the showed off acrobatic feats of magic ninja murder. And to some extent they were right. The character of Corvo, and his story, ended up holding that empowerment back, however. He cared. He was hurt. He was used.

Daud is a much more potent power fantasy.

Already an assassin, he is conflicted, but also brutal. He does not hestitate to drive a foot-long knife through a man’s eye, while at the same time it’s often within his reach to do the right thing. Not only is his story more interesting than Corvo’s, but he has his own cabal of teleporting, gas-mask wearing assassins. Daud is a dark and exciting character to be in control of.

So it is that I begin to creep toward the conclusion – as I am horrified by Brigmore’s witches, and delighted by its violent dockyard gang fights – that Daud is doing a better job of Dishonored than Corvo did. Perhaps Corvo did fulfil the classic role of hard done by hero, but I’m enjoying Daud’s noir voice over and whalepunk espionage patter far more. I’m totally engaged with his mission and his method. I am a bad man.

The Brigmore Witches is bigger than Knife of Dunwall, and better. It’s still a scrap of a thing compared to the main game, but the criss-crossed sidequests and the familiar richly detailed environments make up for that. You can spend a lot of time here, if you want to. Just as in Dishonored, this expansion allows you to execute the missions in completely different ways, and you’ll see the consequences of those actions in-game.

As I finally entered the leafy grounds of Brigmore itself – a vast, abandoned mansion overrun by magic-warped witches – I was reminded of what a luxury construct Dishonored really is. Few games are as well designed or as well executed as this. Of those even fewer have this quality of art, writing, or underlying imaginative muscle. Nothing else tastes quite as fulsome. It’s an astonishing accomplishment, and my feeling is that this DLC serves to ram that point home, pointedly, rather than simply going through the motions to act out more of the same. It was a delight to be lured back to the game and reminded so clearly what I liked about it.

In conclusion, then: you should get this. After Knife Of Dunwall. I’ve enjoyed them both enough to the point where I can honestly say that they are more entertaining slices of Dunwall than much of the original game.

If you’re still on the fence, don’t be. Leap down and stick a knife in your hesitation. You won’t be regretting the consequences.

The Brigmore Witches is out now.


  1. Kodaemon says:

    Needs “press sneak fucks” tag.

  2. DrScuttles says:

    While it’s understandable to use a silent protagonist so that the player can project whatever on to the character (I like to imagine a Half-Life with an obnoxious alpha-bellend Freeman snapping and roaming the halls of Black Mesa grabbing scientists by the collar and roaring in their face “SAY MY NAME”, executing those on the spot who don’t; nothing in the text precludes this interpretation), sometimes I just like to be given a character to play as. And that Daud is a pretty interesting cat.
    The Knife of Dunwall was relatively short, but I found it immediately more compelling to go back and do an alternate playthrough than Dishonoured was. Though the brevity of it may well be a factor.
    That and Daud’s frankly awesome Blink. Someone needs to patch that shit into the main game.

    • PopeBob says:

      Daud’s Blink is interesting, and certainly a huge boon for gamepad players who lack the finer aim speed KB+M offers, but for me it only elevates an already broken ability to more silly levels. In fact, it was the quick timing, aim and execution of a good blink-jump in the core game that made that particular power slightly more palatable.

      • lordcooper says:

        What’s different about it?

        • DrScuttles says:

          It freezes time while aiming where you want to blink, provided you’re not moving. Though you can still freeze time mid-jump if I recall correctly, even though you should still be moving (I figure ‘moving’ means holding any WSAD key).
          There’s a definite argument that it’s overpowered to the point of being broken, like PopeBob feels, but good grief did I find it fun.

          • lordcooper says:

            That sounds pretty awesome. Fun trumps balance in my books.

  3. PopeBob says:

    Couldn’t possibly agree more. Though I will say that the two “Granny Rags Recipes” of this DLC are less interesting than the ones in Knife of Dunwall by an enormous margin.

  4. Professor Paul1290 says:

    The Brigmore Manor area is quite impressive indeed. I’d say it’s one of my favorite areas in Dishonored from the main campign or the DLC.

    Overall I do feel like Daud’s DLC campaign is in many ways much better than the main campaign. A lot of the maps play better, things like AI placement and patrols are much better designed, and to me Daud’s toolset feels more well rounded and useful than Corvo’s.

    I actually tried a classic ghosting attempt (stealth, with as few knockouts as possible) on the DLC campaign to see how it would work out, and during that I noticed an especially significant improvement in how guards were placed and how their patrols were set up. Compared to the main campaign the DLC guards tended to be grouped better, and some had more complex routes.
    I also really liked how some of the guard’s patrols would divert in unexpected places or even do quick 180 pivots mid-walk in ways that seem intended to really mess with players expecting the usual “walk to the end of the hallway, stare at the wall for X seconds, then turn” behavior.

    A behavior I found interesting was that in many places if you knocked out a guard, often times a nearby guard would extend their patrol to “fill in” for that guard. I think I might have seen this in a couple spots in the main campaign, but that sort of thing seems far more prevalent in the DLC campaign.

    What’s especially amusing with that is that someone on another forum found that they could exploit this otherwise smart behavior by carefully using certain spots with heavier traffic to attract and clear guards from the surrounding area from relative safety.
    Of course, I guess that might be not so much an exploit as it is being clever!

  5. strangeloup says:

    I’m half tempted by this DLC, if it is indeed better than the main campaign. I liked the world, the art direction, almost everything about it — except I ended up left cold midway through the third mission (the Bridge, I think?), experienced terminal arsedness failure, and never went back to it.

  6. ZIGS says:

    How long is it?

    • Xocrates says:

      It’s 3 levels, first is fairly short, second is fairly long, third is somewhere in between. Took me about 5 hours in a fairly complete stealth run (for reference, I believe it took me about 15h for the main game).

      Of course, given the nature of the beast, I fully expect that time to vary wildly from player to player.

  7. Eclipse says:

    I’m waiting for the limited edition XXX-DLC, The Wrigmore Bitches.

  8. Premium User Badge

    keithzg says:

    I’m worried though that, at this point, no level editor will ever come out. Within this vague “genre”, Deus Ex still stands far and above in terms of unofficial creations, but mostly just because nobody since has created a game with the raw materials of a game world but then allowed us plebs to actually play around with it.

    I tweeted at Harvey Smith when I was about halfway through Dishonored, and he said “no announcement right now”. ( link to twitter.com ) I’d assume that, barring technical and time issues, it’d eventually come out if Arkane was still its own entity, but Bethesda’s ownership makes me worry now.

    I mean, I desperately want to be playing some Dishonored version of The Nameless Mod seven years from now. I want to see a map set on a whaling vessel itself, out at sea. I want the endless possibilities that for a time we used to take for granted as PC gamers!

    • Blackcompany says:


      More and more developers – or rather, Publishers – are focused on turning a game into a franchise. usually that means pumping out as many sequels as possible in as short a time as possible. And they can’t do that, if we’re still playing mods from the original game for years. Which we would likely be doing.

      This is why Skyrim has mods. RPG’s require years of development. Mods keep fans interested in the game and the lore for years after the game would otherwise die off or fade from view. In this case mods for the current game help sell the upcoming titles in the same loosely connected series of games. They often have the opposite effect on cheap, cash-in annual and bi-annual sequels, however, and since more and more this is where the industry is going we don’t get mods much any longer.

      Which is a pity. It really is. Because modders have the freedom to experiment and to yield to creativity over a need for popularity. And games need more of such freedom.

    • DrScuttles says:

      Perhaps with the bloating costs of development, time spent refining and adapting the tools with the aim to release them for modders is money not being spent on the game?
      I’m trying to think of a reason that isn’t just a cynical variation of DLC killing the mod scene, but I have to acknowledge that from a developer / publisher perspective, monetising an official mod is preferable to allowing the user base to come up with their own (potentially better, or least full campaign-length… or sometimes both). And I hate that.
      Ee by gum, back in ‘day, when all this were green far as ‘eye could see, we got expansion packs and user made content.

      edit: in my cynical fugue, I completely forgot that Bethesda themselves actively encourage modding with their Elder Scrolls series, as Blackcompany points out. Especially compared to the early Elder Scrolls games.

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    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      I think it’s also worth mentioning that we didn’t really have the sort of indie and niche game scene we have now and we didn’t have as wide a selection of game engines available.

      Nowadays if you and a few friends want to create a gameplay experience, you can either make a mod of an existing game, you can code it from scratch, or you can use an existing game engine. The last option has become a lot more viable and attractive now than it was before.

      Because of that I’m not too surprised total conversions are becoming less common. The gap between amount of work needed to make a unique total conversion mod and the amount of work needed to make a stand alone game on an “off the shelf” engine has been gradually shrinking.

      On top of that the total conversion has the inevitable disadvantage of needing the base game to play, which is more than a bit troublesome for potential devs.
      There’s a reason why more than a few already existing total conversion mods have been pushing for, or have already made the jump to, being completely standalone.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Yeah, if there’s one company that doesn’t support the mod community, it’s bethesda.

  9. zain3000 says:

    So… a 7 on the Wang-o-Meter?

    • Ruffian says:

      lol, I was also really hoping that he would actually use that in a review/piece or two.

  10. Xocrates says:

    I really quite liked this one. It’s definitely better than (the rather good) Knife of Dunwall.

    However I do think they missed a trick with the epilogue

    the epilogue is Corvo’s confrotation with Daud, during which the Outsider narrates how Corvo doesn’t know what Daud did during the DLC, but it’s up to him to decide Daud’s fate.
    At this point I expected the game to fade to black leaving the fate to be determined by what the player did in the main campaign (heck, I was already feeling a bit sorry since I murdered the guy sneakily), instead the cutscene kept going and, in my case at least, Corvo walks away and spares Daud, which disapointed me a bit since it was perfect oportunity not only to link DLC and campaign, but to show that even if Daud redeemed himself it might not be enough.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Yeah, it did feel like a bit of a cop out. Making a cliffhanger out of that final moment would have been far more effective. Either that or have Daud standing around his lair, having murderish thoughts, only to realise that the key on his belt was gone. That confrontation is fun, and I’ve gone for it on pretty much all of my playthroughs, but I’m certain that loads of people approached that encounter sneakily.

      • Swoo says:

        The Daud vs Corvo ending was my one nit-pick as well. Having it tied in with Chaos is an O.K. idea, but I really would have rather had it either not show the encounter and leave it up to the players actions in the main game, or let you load a save much like it does with the KoD save, and load the resolution that way.

        • Professor Snake says:

          That, and the fact that it’s even unfaithful to the main game’s way of sparing Daud. I was expecting Daud to be on the wait for Corvo, and then suddenly realize that his belt pouch is missing.

          Edit: I aparrently did not read the comment above that says the exact same thing.

  11. SickBrick says:

    Wrigmore Britches.

  12. webwielder says:

    I loved Dishonored, and am very much looking forward to playing this DLC, but I am troubled by the suggestion that Arkane displayed much ability to tell a compelling story or create interesting characters or dialogue. Corvo was not a character, and he could be shoehorned into any number of additional missions without any compromise to the world of Dunwall. 9 out of 10 Midwestern-accented guards making fake grumbling sounds every 5 minutes agree.

  13. Ruffian says:

    Methinks I need to try this. Reading the latest reviews and whatnot, I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that corvo being a silent style protagonist is what really caused the story in the main game to feel rather flat (still head and shoulders above other games, ofc) for me, personally.

  14. Paul says:

    Another proof that silent protagonist crap needs to die. DLC better than actual game, which was already fantastic – I do not see that very often.

    • Swoo says:

      Silent protagonist is still perfectly viable – and can be even more immersive – than a default character when done right. The problem with Dishonored pertaining to Corvo isn’t about the fact he was/was not voiced, it was that Corvo had no interactions at all with any characters. They talked at you, that was all. When you have zero dialogue trees other than ‘Spare/Don’t Spare’ it’s hard to make a character out of that other than ‘Dudes really pissed and out for revenge…and his maybe-daughter.’

      Daud’s story has been more successful in establishing a character simply because he has character barks interjected between NPC dialogue, so there is at least some form of light conversation going on. Other than that Daud doesn’t interact with NPC’s in any way better than they handled Corvo in the first one, which is really one of the only failings of this game.

  15. neolith says:

    When I bought Dishonored I only played it for about two hours before I quit due to utter disappointment. Which came kind of unsuspected as the game’s feature list contains a lot of thing I look for in a game. As much as I like the world the game is set in and the artstyle that comes along with that as much did I dislike the scantiness of the introduction to this world. It seemed that Dishonored excelled in bad storytelling from the first moment on and the gameplay didn’t make up for it at all and I was under the impression of just having to go through corridor after corridor for no good reason.

    Since I quit the game quite early, my question is: Should I start over and give it a new try? I did like games like DX and DXHR a lot and Dishonored sounded like it could be similar in terms of gameplay. Do the depth of the story and the gameplay change over time so that I might enjoy it more later on?

    • lordcooper says:

      You should definitely give it another go. Once you get into the ‘proper’ game (first, arguably second assassination) it’s anything but a series of corridors.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      “Corridor after corridor” definitely sounds like you didn’t reach the game proper, or weren’t stopping to look around for diversions and other routes as much as you should.

      The voice acting is middling at best throughout. And none of the dialogue exactly sparkles. If you want truly masterful game fiction, play Gone Home or The Walking Dead. But as a work of immersion within the action game genre, it’s truly excellent. Dunwall’s one of the most well-realized and frankly haunting worlds of any game of this type.

      And remember the game doesn’t directly tell you everything you can do with your powers.

  16. mikejs says:

    Oddly, neither this nor Knife of Dunwall particularly appeal to me, because it involves playing as Daud. A character with “his own cabal of teleporting, gas-mask wearing assassins” is generally the one I’m trying to defeat, not one I would be comfortable playing as.

    Which is a shame, because it looks really well done.

    • SavageTech says:

      So, consorting with dark powers in order to teleport around and stab dozens of people in the gullet is okay as long as you’re the good guy? Or perhaps it’s only justifiable because you were deeply wronged by some treachery and must seek justice through vengeance? If that’s true, how do you know that Daud wasn’t set up just like Corvo, only going to kill Jessamine because he thought it was a necessary evil to achieve a greater good? Daud could be a more realistic “good guy” than the hollow storybook hero of Corvo, depending on how you choose to play him.

      You’ll never know unless you try it… And hopefully the lingering doubt will gnaw at you until you do :3

  17. RProxyOnly says:

    That pic reminds me of Iorveth.

  18. Lagwolf says:

    I think that Brigmore Witches is the best DLC I have ever played for any game. .. and the first part was damn near close.

  19. Dominic White says:

    The DLC for Dishonored is great, and any complaints about pricing evaporate when a Steam sale rolls around and you can get it for half price or less. While each of the three pieces (challenge mode and the two halves of Daud’s campaign) are individually small, all together they add up to 7 missions. Given that the base game only had 9, that’s a pretty solid expansion pack.

  20. kaloth says:

    I would buy this DLC if it were not for one thing. The time it took to come out. Same reason I skipped ‘Knife’.

    Dishonored came out last year, I played it, finished it, moved on and removed it long ago. I’m not so keen to redownload the whole lot on steam just to play one DLC.

    If studios released additional content earlier in a game’s life then they’d see a lot more sales. Sure there’d be a lot more people whining about being nickled and dimed (see: history of all quickly released DLC ever), but if the DLC is coming out anyway what’s the problem with it coming out earlier while I still have any interest in playing the game?

    This next paragraph may be unnecessary as this isn’t kotaku, but before the crazies jump in and defend the game / studio, it doesn’t need defending form anything I have said here. I loved Dishonored. Best game I had played in a long time. My gripe is with the slow release cycle of DLC that seems to be becoming the norm (not just with Arkane).

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Felt the same about the Shadow of the Ninja DLC (and paying a third of the game’s price for one more level didn’t help). But in the case of Dishonored, it’s replayable enough that it stayed on the drive, so I’ll probably get this.

    • Meneldil says:

      What about : “It takes time to develop DLCs”? Especially when they’re as well made à Knife and Brigmore. They’re not necessarily all ready before the game is released and withdrawn in order to make some cash later on, you know…

      A long time ago, when DLC were called “addons”, they’d usually be released a year or two after the main game. And nobody complained.

      • basilisk says:

        So day zero DLC is a problem, DLC that takes months to develop is also a problem, there’s just no pleasing some people, is there?

  21. vgtoilets says:

    There are also toilets in the game: link to youtube.com