Dishonored Reviewed

26 Oct
Title Screen

A three hour tour…

I was never a fan of the Thief games. They required way too much patience, and when you got caught (and I always got caught) you died very quickly. Then Deus Ex came along and stealth became just one option to achieving your goal – you could still sneak around, or you could go on a killing bender if you wanted. Suddenly, I loved stealth (I’m weird that way).

Dishonored is very much from that same mold, combining excellent level design with a beautifully fleshed out world to create an almost great game.

You play Corvo Attano, personal protector (and perhaps more) to the Empress of the steampunk-esque city of Dunwall, where whale oil powers high-tech force fields yet crossbows and swords still rule the day.

Coming back from a critical mission gathering help for a plague sweeping the city, you are implicated in the assassination of the Empress and sent to prison. Six months later, you escape and find yourself in with a group of loyalists, resisting the new Lord Regent and plotting to install the Empress’ daughter to power. There’s just one catch – you don’t have her. She’s held somewhere in the plague-ridden city by the men you seek to usurp.

And oh yeah, a mystical guy called The Outsider gives you powers seemingly for giggles. Not that you’ll mind once you start teleporting around and possessing animals, but it really does seem like his only motivation in giving them to you is boredom.

The main story is broken up into missions, which take place in different zones of the city. Each objective can be achieved in multiple ways, via multiple paths. The layouts are all very well designed – with maps, notes and letters scattered around to add to the ambiance of a dystopian world. There are a few puzzles – mostly finding the right safe combination – but essentially it’s all about running from point A to point B to kill or incapacitate target C. Optional objectives can be found along the way in most missions, but they aren’t necessary to complete. A great feature of the game is that most missions can be achieved in more than one way – usually having a passive option and one that’s not so much.

See through walls

Seeing through walls really helps when sneaking around…

In between these missions, you’ll have the run of a small home area run by the resistance, where you can engage in very limited conversations with NPC’s and stock up from the game’s main vendor.

The graphics are gorgeous. The atmosphere is impressively immersive, bringing to life the decaying city of Dunwall.

But gameplay is the killer feature here. The array of ways you can get past guards gives you the feeling that you are guiding your character through the world, rather than feeling like you’re just following a basically linear path from point A to point B. Sneaking is encouraged, perhaps to a fault, but the mystical powers you acquire throughout the game make it just as appealing a choice as running around like death incarnate. It’s the versatility of these powers that make the game stand apart from others of the genre, and the reason so many have tapped this as a game of the year candidate.

Grenade going off

…but sometimes you just want to blow people up.

Alas, story is where things fall short. The voice acting is good, but overall everything is a bit too predictable. They spent a lot of time creating an engaging world, but left out a good plot. There’s a twist you can see coming for miles, and the “final battle” is laughably anti-climactic. For those of you who value story as much as gameplay (and I count myself as one of those), this will be a tad disappointing.

All in all, I’m mixed on this one. On a pure gameplay basis, this game is a must-try. If you like sneaking around, or seeing how many ways you can torment a guard, this game will definitely suit you. However, if you like a story that will entertain you as much as the gameplay will, temper your expectations for this game before you play it. I can see why this game has gotten rave reviews – I just don’t agree with all of them.

On a side note, it was one of the first Steam games I’ve played in a while that wasn’t obviously buggy coming out of the gate, so kudos to the development team for putting out a stable game.

I give 7 possessed mice out of 10.

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