Killer-for-hire Daud is at a crossroads once haunted by Shakespeare's Macbeth. The Empress's death at his hand has scarred his soul and activated a relentless machine of revenge whose footfalls echo throughout Dunwall. Daud can follow Macbeth and wade even further into a raging torrent of blood, or instead seek redemption and risk a swift execution for the regicide he committed. This existential crisis gnaws at the Michael Madsen-voiced antagonist, but it is the player who will ultimately decide his fate.
Before that fate is discovered, there are other matters to attend to. Having uncovered the true nature of Delilah at the conclusion of Dishonored's first downloadable content pack, The Knife of Dunwall, Daud is spurred by supernatural deity The Outsider to put a stop to her nefarious yet somewhat nebulous plans. Over the course of The Brigmore Witches' three missions, this involves breaking a gang leader out of Coldridge Prison, commandeering a ship, and plenty of sneaking about the game's evocative environs.
Coldridge Prison is the only area in The Brigmore Witches that isn't brand new, but it’s approached from a different angle than it was during Corvo’s escape in Dishonored, and the crossover helps to reinforce this expansion's timeline. Like almost all levels in Dishonored's campaign DLC, it’s brilliantly designed and pleasingly vertical. Everything is packed tight, and the layout allows patrolling guards to see down all three stories to the grimy floors and security stations far below.
The sweep of their gaze makes quick reactions as well as immaculate planning the best way to remain undetected, and the same goes for later levels, where the movements of many enemies must be simultaneously tracked in order for Daud to ghost through. Of course, this being Dishonored, those so inclined are welcome to move through the lock-up facility like some kind of razor-tipped, limb-collecting whirlwind, slashing throats and exploding torsos using the game's flexible and devastating arsenal.
From there it’s off to the Draper’s Ward, a formerly rich dockside suburb that now houses the bases of Dunwall’s feuding Hatter and Dead Eel gangs. A sprawling yet not at all sparse collection of four separate areas, Draper’s Ward is home to a number of colourful characters, very few of whom are looking out for much beyond themselves or their masters.
The bulk of the player’s time in The Brigmore Witches is spent here toeing the line between the rival thugs, but few of the Ward's missions directly relate to Daud’s main objective, and this is the biggest gripe to be had with this DLC.
It’s not clear for the majority of its runtime exactly why Delilah must be located, and much of what must be accomplished seems incidental to the overarching plot. This does lend something of a sense of mystery to proceedings, and clues are sprinkled throughout, but most missions feel like side quests. Side quests in a compelling and vivid world, but side quests nonetheless.
These somewhat tangential frolics do nicely colour the Dishonored universe, however. Players will overhear more intriguing snippets of conversation between non-player characters than before, and the many books scattered about Dunwall's dens also contribute greatly to the lore of the game. Pausing to read pages of text won’t and shouldn’t be high on a player’s list of priorities when there are guards to shank and power-granting runes to locate, but those with patience will be rewarded.
Despite its status as second chapter DLC, The Brigmore Witches adds much to the core gameplay of Dishonored. The Summon Assassin, Void Gaze, and Arcane Bond abilities from The Knife of Dunwall return, as do choke dust, and arc and stun mines. In addition, Daud now has access to baffledust, which erases the memories of guards who have spotted him, as well as the Pull power he used against Corvo in Dishonored.
Pull is handy for nabbing items that are otherwise out of Daud’s reach, and can be upgraded to yank enemies into the air and to Daud, who can then easily choke them unconscious or kill them. Their screams as they thrash hopelessly in midair will alert nearby enemies though. Corrupted bone charms are also introduced here, and grant new passive powers that come at a cost: players can opt to move faster but take more damage, for example.
The best one makes Daud invisible when stationary unless in combat, but in exchange his mana doesn’t regenerate at all. It will be a favourite for those attempting ghost runs on higher difficulties, but it doesn't confer the advantage it first appears to. All Daud's new tricks come in handy against the couple of new enemies here, whose powers present new problems for the player.
Despite its narrative inertia, The Brigmore Witches eventually provides two great endings to Daud’s saga, each based upon how homicidal the player is or isn’t. While both are valid play styles, those who go full tilt murder will miss a lot of the detail only provided by enemies whose heads are still within the general vicinity of their necks. A competent full chaos approach also shortens the game’s runtime significantly, although a stiff challenge is provided by the game's higher difficulties.
Any number of saves from The Knife of Dunwall may be imported into The Brigmore Witches, so players may continue with the chaos level as well as the powers, gadgets, and weapons they accumulated in that DLC. On top of that, non-player characters who survived The Knife of Dunwall appear in The Brigmore Witches, or are at least referred to, as are Daud’s exploits therein. Needless to say, a playthrough of The Knife of Dunwall is highly recommended prior to tackling this expansion – it's an excellent half dozen hours of gameplay in its own right, and a great lead-up to Brigmore's eventual pay-off.