By: Jimmy Kovalski
Developer: Arkane Studios
Rating: M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language)
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC
Release Dates: October 9, 2012
Sneaking into Game of the Year contention.
You are a man named Corvo Attano and you are the legendary bodyguard of the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. You arrive back at the estate after being sent away on a mission only to be framed for the murder of the Empress and the abduction of her daughter Emily. Corvo is then imprisoned and to be sentenced to death but with the aid of some mysterious people, he escapes and sets off on a journey to find the people who framed him and to rescue Emily. This is the basic plot of Dishonored, and the game does little to deviate from this. I did find the story pretty interesting; however, it does contain a plot twist that many will see coming from the very start, and the ending is not very satisfying. I would say the story is a decently told tale, and there are some great supporting characters, but don’t expect to be blown away by the overall plot.
The game takes place in a city called Dunwall. It is an industrious whaling city that is going through some tough times with a spreading plague. The city is modeled after 1800s to early 1900’s London and resembles a steam-punk City 17. Tall buildings of the wealthy tower over the run down apartments of the poor, rats run the streets, and gangs are a big part of the Dunwall underground. Whale oil plays a big part in the city as many various machines run on it as opposed to steam or traditional oil. You really feel like you are part of this world as the game does a fantastic job of pulling you in to the world the developers masterfully created.
Dishonored is not necessarily open-world as it is split up into several different missions. You have a home base type of place called The Hounds Pit Pub where you can talk to people, get missions, upgrade your weapons and powers, and you can travel from here to your next mission. Once you get into the missions the game opens up. From here you can run right to your main objective or you can survey the city, take on mini objectives from side characters, find collectables like relics and tonics, and other miscellaneous tasks. The size of the maps in these missions are quite large and there are a ton of different places to explore. The game feels like an open-world inside of missions, and these missions take you to some very interesting places inside of Dunwall. To run-down parts of towns, to lavish parties and to the dangerous sewers you will come across a plethora of very detailed environments.
What I found to be most pleasing with Dishonored was the gameplay. The game takes place in first person view and has a heavy emphasis on player choice. You want to go through the whole game without alerting or killing anyone? Dishonored lets you do that. Want to run and gun and kill everyone in sight? You can do that as well. Inside each mission there are several, and I mean several, different ways for you to go about completing your objective depending on your play style. You can run right through killing everyone in sight or you can sneak along the rooftops or if you really want to be stealthy, you can take to the underground sewers. You have many tools at your disposal to help you complete each task. You will always have your assassin’s blade in hand, and this can be used with a pistol, crossbow or one of your assassin powers. Yes there is some magic in this game. At the start you talk to a man called “The Outsider” and he gives you the ability to have magical powers. Right off the bat you get a power called “blink” which lets you teleport short distances with the single push of a button. This move helps your greatly in reaching rooftops or teleporting you right behind an enemy guard to deliver a fatal stab with your blade. This power is very satisfying and you will rely on it for the whole game. To gain more powers you must collect relics. These allow you to purchase new powers or upgrade previous ones depending on how many relics you have at the time. Other powers include possessing rats, fish and enemies to move about for a short period of time, summoning rats to kill enemies, higher health, the ability to see through walls, the ability to stop time, and many more that help you accomplish your goal. There are powers for you stealthy people but also some nice powers for you run n’ gunners. There are also bone charms to collect throughout the world. These smaller relics can be equipped and give you smaller boosts like speed, increased possession time on rats, and the like. You can equip many at the same time, but there are a ton more in the game to find. This allows for a sort of customization to really tailor to your play style. You also collect random pieces of junk throughout Dunwall which automatically turns into currency for you. With the currency you can buy upgrades to your weapons such as ammo capacity, accuracy and damage. You will also be able to purchase abilities like silent footsteps, increased bone charm capacity, and increased zoom on your mask.
The only major problem I had with Dishonored is if you do decide to not take the stealthy approach. The guards will swarm you and begin to hack you with swords and shoot you with their pistols. The gameplay then begins to show a little clumsiness. You can block and counter with your blade, but you have to be spot on with your timing, and you will sometimes become disoriented because you will be getting hit from all sides making it hard to escape or kill the enemies. Now this can be remedied with abilities like stop time and upgrades to your weapons. However, in my case, my character was built more for stealth, so none of my weapons were touched which meant when I alerted the guards it lead to a very uncomfortable and awkward battle only to end in my death or damn near death. I feel like the gameplay for people wanting to go through alerting everyone and shooting up the place is competent but not ideal. This is definitely a game made for people who love stealth and even with that approach the amount of choices are still outstanding. The amount of options you have in dealing with assassination targets is so vast and varying that this game demands more than one play through. If you hate stealth games then I do recommend staying away from Dishonored.
The overall presentation of Dishonored is very good. As stated before, the environments are convincing and gorgeous. The voice acting on the characters are also very well done and convincing although the choice to make Corvo a silent protagonist is a puzzling one. You really want to learn more about Corvo, but you never really know who he is beyond just a bodyguard for the empress turned sneaky assassin. The soundtrack is also very well done as the score sets the mood appropriately. As the game does run on Unreal Engine 3, you will see the occasional texture pop in that we have become accustomed to with the engine. The game looks good and runs well on all three systems but runs a little better and smoother on the PC.
Dishonored is a great game. The amount of choices that it gives players in how they approach and accomplish each mission is astounding. The game can be completed in less then 5 hours if you rush through it but can be stretched well passes the 10 hour mark if you take your time and explore all your options which is by far the best way to play Dishonored. The more time you take in playing Dishonored the more the game rewards you. Sure the story isn’t the greatest around, and the gameplay when fighting huge groups of people is not ideal, but Dishonored is a game that should not be missed, and it is one of the best stealth games in years.
+Amazing amount of choices in how you play
+Smooth and satisfying stealth mechanics
+Very satisfying powers
+Good supporting characters
+It’s a new IP!
-Little is fully known about Corvo
-Obvious plot twist
-Gameplay is not ideal for those who don’t take the stealth approach
Final Verdict: 9/10
Price at the time of review: $60
As I stated previously, Dishonored can be completed quite quickly if you rush through it. However; if you take your time you will get so much out of Dishonored. I have no problem recommending Dishonored for $60. You need to play one the best stealth games in years.