Whether you stalk the shadows or charge into battle, Dishonored is a great game that encourages players to think.
October 30, 2012 9:16 pmAdam Blackwell
Version tested: PC
As a big fan of first person action-RPGs like the BioShock and Deus Ex franchises, Dishonored has been on my radar for quite a long time. When I finally got my hands on the game, I must say, I was not disappointed. This game has a lot to offer, especially for fans of the genre.
Developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda, Dishonored puts you into the shoes of Corvo Attano, protector of the Empress of Dunwall. Dunwall is a plague-ridden city that is reminiscent of Victorian-era London, and is marked by a clear divide between the poor and rich. Corvo returns home to report to the Empress, only to become witness to her death and subsequently he finds himself as one of the central figures in a power struggle for the throne.
The game prides itself on the ability to choose your own path to complete its objectives. You can rush in, tossing grenades and swinging your sword like a madman, destroying everything in your path. You can hide in the shadows, slitting throats and taking out guards from afar with a crossbow. You can even complete the entire game without killing a single person. Dishonored adjusts to your playstyle along the way- the more people you kill, the more rat swarms and weepers (zombie-like plague victims) you will encounter in later stages. It also adjusts the endings- pacifist characters will see a different ending than those that leave a wake of destruction.
The game contains some RPG elements that allow you to upgrade Corvo and tailor his skills and abilities to your play style. Corvo is blessed (or cursed, as some would see it) with powers from The Outsider, a supernatural being. These powers are unlocked and upgraded using items called runes, which can be found in hiding places throughout the game or sometimes given as quest rewards. There are ten powers in all, four of which are passive, and six of which are activated and occupy your secondary weapon slot. Each power compliments a different playstyle. For example, were I going to try and kill everything I see, I would probably take Wind Blast first, giving me the ability to knock my enemies back with gusts of wind. I would also unlock Vitality, a passive power that increases my life, and Blood Thirsty, which gives you an adrenaline meter that builds up as you kill enemies and grants you a deadly blow when filled.
For my first playthrough, however, I chose to take the stealthy route. The first power I unlocked was Blink- a short range teleport and probably the only power that is essential to every style of play. Sure, you might be able to complete the game without Blink, but by doing that you would miss out on one of the most fun mechanics of the game. It has a bit of a learning curve, but once you figure Blink out, you really start to get the feeling of being the supernatural assassin Corvo is supposed to be. I was on a mission at the Golden Cat whorehouse, stealing some valuables when all of a sudden I hear the confused grunt of a guard behind me. Without thinking, I turned and blinked right up to him, slitting his throat before he knew what was happening. Little did I know that there was another guard on patrol, walking down the hallway where I had just killed the first guard. I picked up the body and blinked away, leaving the second guard none the wiser.
Blink is also extremely important for finding runes and bone charms. While every rune serves the same purpose, bone charms provide unique bonuses to your character. Some bone charms increase attack speed, while others increase the amount of time for which you can possess a rat. Both runes and bone charms are found using The Heart, an item that occupies your secondary weapon slot and shows you their locations. Many of the runes and bone charms are hidden using simple puzzles that often have multiple ways of solving them. Sometimes you may need to blink up to a hidden ledge, other times you might be able to possess a rat to squeeze through a small opening in a room. None of the puzzles are particularly hard, and that's a good thing because there are a fair amount of runes and bone charms to be found. I got many of them early, and by the last hours of the game my character was pretty well developed that I didn't feel the need to search for them anymore.
Dishonored is a game that is very much about creativity in kills. It's the kind of game that encourages you to tell fishing stories to your friends about the time you killed three Tallboys with stop time and a single grenade, or escaped chasing guards by possessing one of them and simply walking away. One particularly fun way to kill guards is to use rewire tools to turn their machines against them. One time, my task required me to get past a Wall of Light, which is essentially a giant electric fence that the guards can walk through but you can't. I could have simply powered down the fence and walked through, but there were three enemies on my side of the wall, and two on the other that would see me if I walked through. Perched at the top of a building, I used my crossbow to snipe out the two guards standing by the Wall's circuitry panel. I used Blink to sneak up behind the last guard on my side and silently take him out. I used a rewire tool to rig the wall to allow me through and zap guards to dust. I walked through the wall and blasted a pistol shot at the last two guards, inviting them to chase me. They did, and as I ran through the wall, unhurt, I looked behind me and saw them turn to ash.
Dishonored draws from both Victorian and steampunk styles to create a very unique aesthetic. Dunwall, haunted by crime, corruption, and the plague, looks beautiful in its misery. Parts of the city are falling apart, flooded by plague-infested water and completely abandoned. Other parts are kept pretty by the same rich aristocrats that may find themselves on the wrong end of your sword. I was able to run the game with high graphics settings, and it looked incredible. Set pieces are intricately detailed, and character animations are fluid and realistic.
I don't want to spoil too much about the story of Dishonored, but I will say that it takes its fair share of twists and turns, and the end result is an engaging storyline that will keep you playing through til the end. I felt a real connection to the game's characters, and found myself playing the game actually caring about them- sprinting to a hostage in danger ignoring all other objectives, or killing a character who I believed had wronged me, for example. Much of the credit for that goes to the game's top-notch voice acting talent, which includes stars such as John Slarrety (Mad Men), Lena Heady (Game of Thrones), Michael Madsen (Kill Bill), and Susan Sarandon, who is hilariously terrifying as the mysterious Granny Rags.
One of Dishonored's main selling points is that it gives you multiple paths to travel through levels, allowing you to play through the game again with a different playstyle. While this definitely makes the game more replayable, the game itself doesn't exactly scream to be played again. There are only one or two sidequests for each of the game's nine missions, and they are relativley easily completed. I completed the game on hard difficulty in a little over 20 hours, and by the end of the game I had most of the powers and was able to kill my enemies in a variety of ways, despite concentrating solely on stealth for the early and mid game. At some point I will probably play through the game again as a brawler, but I still feel as if I have already experienced most of what the game has to offer. Don't get me wrong, it's not that Dishonored seems short, actually far from it. It's just that for some gamers it's hard to justify a $60 price tag on a single-player only game, especially with the release-heavy holiday season coming up.
Bottom line - Dishonored is a great game. It's fresh, an original game in an ocean of Halo 4's, Mass Effect 3's, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2's. The story will captivate you, the game mechanics are well balanced and fun, and the game encourages creativity. It looks great, sounds great, plays great. If you liked any of the BioShock or Deus Ex games, you should pick it up right now, you will not be disappointed. If you're not sure you want to spend $60 on a single-player only game with the holiday season coming up, at least keep an eye on it. You're going to want to play this one eventually.
Dishonored is a great experience of a game. It challenges you to find creative ways to kill or avoid your enemies as you progress through its beautiful levels and enthralling storyline. The game adjusts to your playstyle, and invites you to play through it multiple times using different styles of play. Some gamers may find it difficult to justify spending $60 on a single-player only game, but if you are a fan of the BioShock or Deus Ex series (and who isnt?!), you should definitely pick this up.
Detailed backdrops, fluid character animations, and overall great graphics.
Good score, and the little clicks and clanks of your steampunk style weapons are pleasing to the ear.
The game encourages players to play creatively, and gameplay is often tense and always fun.
No multiplayer, but still invites players to replay using different play styles.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10