Although we all like to gawk at great visuals and enjoy putting countless hours into incredibly well developed video games, not enough thought is put into the fine line that developers must walk each time they craft an interactive adventure. You see, in order to create something special, a balancing act must occur. That’s because fun requires difficulty as its counterbalance, as the two combine to create replay value and general interest. After all, if a game isn’t at least somewhat challenging, it will become boring quickly, with the same thing happening when the descriptors switch places.
As a case study, Arkane Studios’ Dishonored works quite well. Not only does its fun come from its inherent challenge, but the game always pushes players forward, taunting them with new unlocks and an interesting storyline. Sure, the title may be a bit on the challenging side, but the amount of fun that one can have by trying different approaches offsets that factoid. In fact, the Game of the Year candidate is one of those rare experiences that makes failing enjoyable, something that is impressive in its own right.
When you take into consideration the amount of creative gameplay options that players have at their disposal within the aforementioned triple-A release, it’s easy to understand why the game’s developers decided to go down the oft-travelled challenge route when they designed its first downloadable add-on. As a trial and error experience, the on-disc content is perfectly suited for a complementary set of challenging skill-testers, and that’s exactly what the brand new Dunwall City Trials DLC offers in spades. So much so, in fact, that you’ll find yourself reaching for the proverbial carrot, while trying to beat your previously set high scores, or those of others.
Offering ten unique skill-testers for players to test their mettle at, Dunwall City Trials is an impressive, thoughtfully designed and entertaining experience that only the best will be able to master. Included within, one will find combat, puzzle, stealth and traversal gauntlets, which take things down to the core essentials. One will have you sneaking throughout a castle-based party, looking for clues as to who your randomized target happens to be, while another will see how fast you can drop from one pedestal to another, taking out naive foes as you fall. Going further, there are others that test players’ thievery and speed skills, not to mention their combat creativity and endurance. Needless to say, there’s a lot to contend with here, and none of it comes easily.
There’s a great upside to everything offered here, because the new content forces players to better themselves. Earning stars through the points-based, three-star rating system, leads to rewards. The most common of those happens to be pieces of digital artwork from the game, although hardcore fans will strive for more. By doing so, they can unlock expert versions of several of the challenges, as well as achievements or trophies. The latter list items happen to be the toughest to earn, as the included profile rewards require near perfection. Some will like that bragging rights approach, while others may find it annoying, but there’s no denying that the design increases the pack’s replay value. Going further, the same thing is true of the ten collectible dolls that are hidden throughout its stages.
In the end, it’s tough to complain about Dishonored‘s Dunwall City Trials DLC. The download is full of content and replay value, boasts quality presentation facets and plays very well. For those reasons, it’s extremely easy to recommend it to the game’s fans. With a price tag of only $4.99 (400 Microsoft Points), the add-on an absolute steal.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the game that we were provided with.