Most helpful positive review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Some inspired puzzles and a fresh new campaign
on 20 June 2013
Dunwall City Trials is the first DLC pack released for Dishonored. The series of 10 different challenge levels are diverse and inventive, and best of all, they're difficult. They feel like worthy challenges.
With all the supernatural powers players get to use as they take on the role of super-assassin Corvo in Dishonored, it only makes sense that the game would encourage you to exercise your skills in a series of specialised challenge levels. Focusing on four areas: fighting, stealth, speed and puzzle-solving. What's great about these challenges is that Arkane make them each fairly unique. It could have just had players racing on rooftops again and again, or doing four variations on target shooting (well, there is a target shooting challenge). Instead, the developer came up with some really smart ways to test players capabilities in using the gifts of The Outsider.
Firing up the DLC gives you a rundown of all the challenges, and each has a specific icon to indicate what part of your skill set you'll be exercising when you start it up. A few are a bit pedestrian - a survival mode brawl against a series of random enemies, each harder than the last, makes too much sense (and is too much fun) to pass up. Others, like a speed run that has players descending a bunch of drops while performing air assassinations at every step of the way, are truly inspired.
Each of the challenges includes a three-star rating and a points-based scoring system. The rules of each are different, but the goal is always to earn as much points as possible to rack up a high rating. Break two stars or better and you unlock the even harder "Expert" versions of each challenge, getting three stars even on the "Normal" challenges is a tall order.
Some of the 10 challenges are inventive and inspiring. For example Mystery Foe, a stealth-based challenge that recalls the level "Lady Boyle's Last Party" from the original campaign, requires you sneaking around a mansion undetected, while gathering clues about which of the various party guests you have to assassinate. The fewer clues you find relating to your target, the more points you score; you're also given bonus points for avoiding guards and for not requiring to knock anyone out.
Other challenges are a little more simplistic. Bonfire Run is a speed run with checkpoints along the way, more or less; another challenge has you shooting down as many whale oil tanks as you can, like at a skeet shooting range. But they all have a bit of a Dishonored twist, the survival mode provides you with different powers at certain intervals, giving you the opportunity to change your tactics.
The Air Assassination speed run is particularly addictive, as is the time-bending massacre puzzle, in which players have to figure out how to use a short stint of frozen time to their advantage to kill as many people in a level as possible. Even the simpler challenges make great use of what makes Dishonored interesting - its powers system, and to test the skills players have built-up through the course of the game.
Dunwall City Trials is not going to be for everyone. This isn't a story-driven DLC, after all, and it adds nothing to the narrative or characterisation of the game. What it does, however, is give you some nifty playgrounds in which to mess with Arkane's intriguing and sophisticated set of tools. This sort of thing is a skill player or a completionist's idea of a really good time. Dunwall City Trials will provide several hours of infuriating, but ultimately rewarding, entertainment.
The Knife of Dunwall (DLC) is an enticing invitation to dive back into the engrossing world of Dishonored. You step into Daud's (leader of the assassins) sneaky, stabby boots. He can manoeuvre and murder with the same stealthy grace and brutal panache as Corvo, but he has a few new tricks that freshen things up and encourage experimentation. You spend time in two new districts of the ailing Dunwall, and the city once again proves to be an interesting place that rewards exploration in intriguing and gratifying ways.
The opening cutscene of The Knife of Dunwall chronicles an event anyone who played Dishonored will remember: the assassination of Empress Kaldwin. Once again, you watch helplessly as the knife plunges in, but this time, you see it from a first-person perspective. As Daud narrates his memories of that fateful day, it becomes very clear that you have left the wrongly accused innocent behind; you are now the cold-blooded murderer. These grim beginnings may beckon you towards a brutal playthrough, or Daud's regret may inspire you to tread a nonlethal path.
Unlike Corvo, whose personality was shaped by your actions and conversations with those around you, Daud can speak for himself. His brooding monologues and brief interactions with his second-in-command, Billie Lurk, help establish his character. He speaks with a kind of doomed poetry, like a weary old detective from a noir film. His personality resonates nicely with the seedy characters he pursues, unscrupulous men who are moving up in the world even as Dunwall circles the drain.
One of the new districts you visit is the slaughterhouse where the great whales that Dunwall's ships pull from the sea are harvested for oil, hooked into machinery while they slowly die. In this bloody corner of the city, a labour dispute simmers as workers protest an exploitative magnate and his vicious butchers. Later, you travel to a residential district where a grasping lawyer is evicting plague-ridden families and seizing their assets, even if they aren't actually infected. Both areas offer new perspectives on Dunwall society and are rich with out-of-the-way places where you can find intriguing notes and helpful goodies. Each provides numerous opportunities to ply your deadly, or not so deadly, trade.
Everyone should get a kick out of the new possibilities offered by Daud's blink ability. When Daud activates this quick teleport power, time stops. From your frozen position, whether on the ground or in midair, you can aim your target reticle, pick your destination, and zip off at your leisure. This comes in handy if an enemy is about to discover you and you want to escape, and it also encourages some daredevil experimentation.
Daud can also summon an assassin to fight at his side or in his stead, which can be helpful and amusing, if not very stealthy. Your companions are novices and draw a lot of attention unless you spend runes on certain upgrades, making them initially better as distractions while you sneak past or take on other foes. Once upgraded, they get a fair bit deadlier, and having a hit man on hand imparts a feeling of power appropriate to Daud's role as master assassin. There are also new mines that zap individual enemies as they pass by, as well as gas grenades for making nonlethal getaways.
Purchasable favours give you an extra incentive to look around, letting you pay money for someone to leave a stolen rune behind, or for a worker to scrawl a safe code on the wall. Favours are a small addition, but one of many that contribute to the feeling that you are playing as a distinct character and having a new adventure.
This DLC can last upward of 5-6 hours, depending on how thoroughly you explore every nook-and-cranny.
The Knife of Dunwall delivers enough new tricks to entertain throughout, but the real pay-off of this DLC is how it takes the cocktail of discovery, exploration, and combat that made Dishonored so delicious, and adds an engaging twist.
I purchased this double pack for as little as £6.00 (approx.) as DLC via Steam, as part of their intermittent special offers.