Long story short: if you like Dishonored, The Brigmore Witches DLC is more Dishonored. I really like Dishonored, so I really liked the DLC.
Random, assorted thoughts about Dishonored in general after the jump.
“But what if they don’t see all the content?”
It’s a philosophy you feel a lot in videogames. We spent all this time making these levels and filling them with stuff — what if the player just rushes past it? Ignores it? All our work will have been for nothing!
And so, you cut off the player’s possibility space. You put characters who must be fought in the players way, create rooms that can only be entered through a particular door, unlocked with a particular key. You force the player to see all your content, and everything is great. Except for the fact that you’ve forced the player to give up some of their freedom in exchange for a more complete tour of The Things You Made.
I get the feeling that Arkane doesn’t have many designers who think like this.
If you want to, you can pretty much sprint your way past every single level of Dishonored and its DLC in a minutes. (The most recent DLC in particular — The Witches of Brigmore — is probably speedrunnable in ten minutes or less). Dishonored’s enemies don’t do that much damage. Health potions are plentiful, and easily chugged in times of distress. Corvo and Daud both move really fast through environments built around allowing them as much mobility as possible (in The Brigmore Witches, I specced Daud solely for movement speed — the guy was a cheetah). Your objectives are simple, usually not requiring more than a handful of steps. You can, if you so wish, skip all of the content.
Which is, of course, great. Not just because it allows the player to do something they just plain want to do, and not just because it makes the game world more consistent and welcoming to the player, but because — surprisingly enough — your ability to skip huge parts of the game doesn’t trivialize the game. It is but one gameplay option among many. Does stabbing everyone trivialize the stealth? Does sneaking past everyone trivialize the combat? Does speedrunning trivialize everything else? Of course not, because when I choose a particular gameplay path that excludes others, that is inherently more interesting than being forced down all paths. I wonder what I’m missing. I skip over or ignore certain parts of the game, but have to pay an intense amount of attention to others.
I played through all of Dishonored and its DLC stealthily, without killing anyone. Why? Because I thought it’d be interesting, and wanted to see if I could. The fact that the game allowed me so much freedom of expression made me want to try things — to poke around in the system, to experiment. To play. The knowledge that I didn’t ever really need to be stealthy — that if an enemy saw me, I’d only have to blink up to the nearest light pole and wait a few seconds — didn’t diminish my enjoyment of trying to be stealthy anyway.
If you let me choose my own path, I will be grateful. Even if that path “trivializes” a large chunk of the game you’ve made. Even if it isn’t the “best” way to play your game. I will be grateful because it was my choice – my way of expressing myself.
Not to mention the fact that, since Dishonored is so satisfyingly short, I felt encouraged to actually replay the game several times and play around with other builds, other strategies. I think I’ve played Dishonored at least six separate times, and everything I try something new.
Really, I’m just rambling — everything you need to know about why Dishonored is great can be summed up in the following three videos:
(Be sure to watch the rest of the No Trace series, it’s great.)
Anyway, The Brigmore Witches DLC is out now and it’s quite good. It does exactly what DLC is supposed to do — it expands upon the core game in interesting ways (Daud’s superpowers are more interesting than Corvo’s, in a lot of ways), tells a self-contained story, and is basically just more of the stuff you already liked in the main game .