“Now, working in the Slaughterhouse, the wrongness is like a wound in my head. The first months I worked in a numb state. Then my main mood was anger. Now the wound is scabbing over and on some days I feel a kind of power. My entire existence is meat. All there is in my mind is meat, death, bones and song. The terrifying songs, they come to me in my sleep now.” - excerpt from a butcher’s journal.
This past generation, we’ve seen a vast, sudden inflation of DLC. From $2.49 Horse Armor to entire modules or campaigns, downloadable content has become an entire mini-industry of its own in our hobby. Many loathe it, and many just don’t buy it, but as long as some people are willing to throw their money at it, it’s going to keep happening.
Dishonored itself even released some early DLC, Dunwall City Trials, which was mostly composed of challenge levels. You know, something a lot of games include naturally, like God of War or the Arkham series.
But now, we have something entirely different. The Knife of Dunwall is just as much of an indulgence as the previous DLC package, but for a different reason. Instead of giving you a playground to experiment strictly with your stealth or murderous capabilities, now Arkane is providing a playground to further engorge yourself on the city of Dunwall and its inhabitants.
For only $10, or 800 Microsoft Points, I was blown away by Knife. Containing only three levels, it might not seem like much, but it’s a solid 3-4 hours of quality content, intended to tell the story of Daud, the leader of the assassins known only as the Whalers, who made quite the huff in the original storyline. Instead of witnessing the deed that gets Corvo framed – the murder of Empress Jessamine and the kidnapping of her daughter, Lady Emily – you now commit it, creating an interesting narrative that visits some new crevices of Dunwall.
It’s here that the indulging really begins. Instead of learning to be a thief like Corvo, you’re now (naturally) a master-assassin. Thus, there’s no tutorial or reintroduction to the gameplay mechanics, and you get thrown right into the action. Instead of having intermittent stores or the trusty Piero to help you stock up on goods, you buy items and upgrades on a menu screen before every mission. But now, you can also purchase favors from local guards before the mission starts, which range from leaving a few extra tins of whale oil to help with some security devices to leaving a rune in a marked location to help you power up your magic. So while most DLC just adds characters and settings without modifying the base game’s systems, this game really does want to challenge how you play it, and create a cohesive experience.
In addition, instead of revisiting areas you’ve already been or spamming the same tilesets, now you’re taken to entirely new areas such as an actual Whale Slaughterhouse or the ever-posh Legal District. Time and time again, the steam-punk, Victorian world of Dishonored amazes me, and leaves me wanting for more.
For DLC, this isn’t a few more bosses or a mode that should’ve already been in the game. This is a fantastic new story that supplements the world of Dishonored well, and makes me anxious for whatever Arkane has next. If you played and enjoyed Dishonored, $10 is a paltry amount for the gameplay and narrative included here, and I’d pick it up as fast as I could.