Trial modes can be the bane of a gamer’s existence. Often added to make up for a short campaign, trial modes and bonus challenges typically offer nothing more than a quick distraction from the core experience of the game. For example, Mirror’s Edge had its time trials and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 had bonus challenges, but in the end, those modes just weren’t as engaging as either titles’ single player portion.
It’s a shame to say, but Dishonored‘s first piece of DLC, Dunwall City Trials, does little to break the formula.
Comprised of ten challenges, Dunwall City Trials is built to test the player’s knowledge of Dishonored’s core game mechanics (read our Dishonored review). The ten challenges are broken up into four distinct categories: stealth, mental, speed and combat. Of the four, stealth challenges are the most engaging, as they come closest to replicating Dishonored’s single player experience.
Stealth challenges task the player with collecting a certain amount of items while remaining hidden. The trials are tension-filled, as players cling to chandeliers and sneak past guards to reach the next objective. It’s a shame, though, that of Dunwall City Trials’ ten challenges, only two are stealth-based.
Three challenges are combat-based. These are the dullest of the challenges, as players find themselves fending off enemies for as long as possible. Arkane does need to be credited for at least bringing some variety to the challenges (one asks the player to fight off hordes of enemies while another has the player causing havoc with just a crossbow), yet the three combat trials are quick to loose their appeal. Part of what made Dishonored so special was hiding among rooftops and silently taking down enemies – none of that is to be found here.
Of course, Dunwall City Trials also has the obligatory speed modes, where players must complete objectives within the allotted time. Like the combat challenges, the speed category makes up three of the DLC’s ten trials, with challenge each being drastically different from the next. A personal favorite is the drop assassination test, wherein the player must drop down on groups of enemies as quickly as possible.
Filling in the last two spots are mental challenges that test the player’s cerebral capabilities. Much like the combat and speed challenges, the mental challenges do little with the game’s core mechanics. Sure, the player might be tasked with using freeze time to kill as many enemies as possible, but it’s unoriginal and quite dull. Not to mention, these challenges can last for quite a few rounds, making them all the more tedious.
Arkane has included leaderboard support, allowing players to compare their scores with those of the community and their friends. This only resonates, of course, if the player finds Dunwall City Trials offerings enjoyable. Perhaps those with friends playing Dishonored will enjoy hashing it out over scores, but for the solo player, the leaderboards can be overlooked.
As stated at the beginning of this review, trial modes usually end up becoming a distraction from a game’s main experience, and that’s exactly what Dunwall City Trials is: a distraction. Dunwall City Trials does little to expand on the game’s lore. Players won’t find the same lovingly crafted world that Arkane created with Dishonored‘s single player campaign. Instead, all they’ll get are a handful of dull challenges and one or two semi-enthralling trials.
Dunwall City Trials is available now for $4.99/400 MSP. Game Rant played the PS3 version for this review.
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