Dishonored Review, A New Face Among Sequels
Dishonored is a new and interesting game with innovative gameplay, but is lacking when it comes to story telling.
This year is full of sequels, there is no use in denying it. Games like Halo 4, Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3 are the big games this year. Some might ask, is there any room for a new successful IP? Arkane Studio try to proven that it has a high quality new IP with Dishonored.
In Dishonored, players play as Corvo Attano, the protector of the empress and her daughter Emily. At the beginning of the game players find themselves arriving at Dunwall, an industrial city fishing town grown rich off the back of the whale oil that powers the city’s circuits. The town has also been affected by a rat plague that’s turns its citizens into weepers. The town is a hive of corruption, political machinations and power grabbing, and this all comes to the fore when the Empress is assassinated, and Corvo sets out to avenge her death. It’s pretty much as straight forward as it sounds and very predictable.
One of the great things about this game is the way you can take Corvos vengeance any way you see fit. Corvo is who you the player want him to be. The entire game can be completed without killing a single person. Corvo can either avoid guards or knock them unconscious. There is even a sleep dart you can use at far distances to knock them out and non-lethal options can be found for assassination targets.
On the other side of that coin, Corvo can go around and kill everyone in his path, but killing your way through the game has a lot of consequences. Meaning the more chaos players cause, a darker ending will be earned.
The mechanics of Dishonored are highly versatile and each setting has been designed to give players multiple options for achieving any one goal. The best example of this is when Crovo travels to a brothel, where players will to kill two targets. But they way you “take care of them” is up to the player. Either by simply killing them, or doing a set of side missions that will instead make them slaves in their own mine.
These kind of options make missions much more engaging than if players were simply tasked with the usual ‘go here, kill this’ objectives. That said, it’s actually the moment to moment game play choices that make Dishonored so compelling.
For instance, how does Corvo get past a ‘wall of light’? These electrified gateways are set up throughout the city and will fry anything that’s not authorized to pass through. Players might be able to circumvent it by climbing up onto the rooftops and traversing around, or use the possession power to scurry through a drainage pipe as a rat and get to the other side. On the other hand you could deal with the gate itself by removing the whale oil tank that’s powering it, or hack into the system and reverse it. This last option is perhaps the most entertaining, as it means you’re now able to step through, but any guards who give chase will be instantly incinerated.
The way you approach this will depend on how you upgrade Corvo’s arsenal, and these options are incredibly robust. Each of the game’s ten powers can be unlocked in any order (after Blink), and each can be upgraded. Runes hidden throughout the world are the currency for unlocking and upgrading powers, and that hunt is brilliant fun in and of itself. On my first play through I built Corvo up to be a stealth assassin.
For stealth, players will want abilities such as blink, dark vision and agility. Blink is a short range teleport that’s useful for moving from cover to cover, getting the jump on enemies and scaling buildings. Dark Vision lets players see enemy movements through walls, and also highlights other important objects in the world. Agility, on the other hand, is a passive power which increases jump height and movement speed, and reduces fall damage.
Besides powers to customize Corvo, upgrades such as quitter boots and zoomed in optics can also be obtained. Also hidden throughout the game are bone charms, which are perks that add little bonuses to Corvo like killing rats to give mana back or reduces the time it takes to choke someone.
You may well choose completely different abilities and perks. If you’re combat-focused, whirlwind sends enemies flying and is really effective, as is slow time, which actually freezes time when fully leveled up. While some powers are more useful than others, it’s a good selection and great fun to experiment with. They’re backed up by more traditional weapons: crossbow, pistol, grenades, spring razor, and so on, and these can all be upgraded too.
There are nine missions in Dishonored overall. Ranging from a prison to a social party. You’ll take part in a duel, carry an unconscious man through a gauntlet of enemies and decide whether or not to become a torturer. Each mission is designed as a sandbox, allowing players to utilize whatever approach they want. Most people will want to take their time exploring these places, and the more you explore, the more you are awarded. The more runes, bone charms and money you find, the more you can augment and upgrade your character, and the more bad-ass you’ll become.
A social party is just one of the places you’ll visit in Dishonored.
Even though the odds are very much in your favor (on normal difficulty at least), the game play evolves nicely alongside the story. New factions and enemy types are introduced, which help shift up the vibe and introduce new challenges. One mission in particular pits Corvo against foes that are not so easily outmaneuvered, and it’s a great touch.
In fact, that goes for a lot of Dishonored. It’s a fascinating world with a memorable cast, not to mention an interesting overarching tension between mystical pagan magic and industrialisation, but all these elements never really feel like they come to fruition. The experience is still engrossing from start to finish, however.
You may also have some small issues with the controls. Climbing ledges particularly when getting out of water sometimes isn’t as smooth as it could be. The mechanic for sneaking up on guards and grabbing them from behind can be a little temperamental too – nothing is worse than coming up behind a guard and blocking instead of grabbing. It’s also a little disappointing that the well-implemented first person perspective doesn’t extend to carrying objects, which just hover in space, in stark contrast to wielding weapons, powers and knocking guards out.
As is becoming standard, PC owners are in for the biggest visual treat. Dishonored does look excellent on console – I finished it on Xbox 360. You may notice minor frame rate issues and a little tearing, but nothing that will really take away from the game play. That said, it’s significantly better-looking on a modern PC, so that should be the platform of choice for players who have the option.
Dishonored is a great game. The game play and presentation are top notch. It’s just sad to see this game have a very disappointing story that ends up being to predictable. But that should not deter players away from this game. You still will want to go through it multiple times and explore everything Dishonored has to offer. This game is a great competitor with all the big sequels out there. It might even be a contender for game of the year.