Dishonored is a first-person stealth/action game published by Bethesda and developed by Arkane Studios. This was a game I chose to approach with little or no expectations. When I initially saw it, I felt it was basically a first person Assassin’s Creed. To some extent, I feel I was right, but the game does take a sense of initiative to be a much more unique experience. It incorporates supernatural elements that set it apart from Ubisoft’s triple-A title.
The story falls a little short in Dishonored. It starts off with you being framed for the murder of the Empress and her daughter kidnapped. From there, you follow the orders of some ‘freedom fighters’ who tell you that they wish to see order return to the nation. Early on, you retrieve the girl and she plays a slightly bigger part in the story. There’s a plot twist in the middle that was unbelievably easy for me to predict and the rest of the game is just as much while just providing more victims to your sword (or liberation).
The game is not largely unique in its plot devices. What I enjoyed most from the story was almost directly snatched from Bioshock 2, where a character essentially learns from your actions until the end of the game. The game has two different playable endings depending on how chaotically you play it, one more dynamic than the other but both provide satisfying finales overall. The epilogue you receive will sum up the fruits of your labor and close the story without leaving many loose ends either way (unless of course you receive the worst ending). Overall though, the story is forgettable.
Dishonored is a first person stealth/action game from beginning to end. It’s a game that almost clearly runs on a Bethesda engine. The animations, the way the camera shifts when you speak to an NPC, etc., this game sweats Bethesda’s usual engine quips. Being that I was playing the PS3 version, I was told through word of mouth of friends that the PS3 version would probably be very buggy in line with Bethesda’s work on the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. My expectations were little or none in this regard, but I can happily report that the PS3 version of Dishonored is a perfectly playable (and enjoyable) experience. If only suffering from some minor technical issues.
You play as Corvo Attano throughout the entire game, a faceless and mute protagonist. You are thrown into the action of the story very quickly. Your friend, the Empress, is killed and her daughter is kidnapped. And to top it off, you’re framed for it all. This means the entire government is out for your head and will kill you on the spot.
Corvo can approach each scenario in a variety of ways as advertised. There is a great deal of emphasis on player choice, particularly on whether you want to approach each chapter with a violent or nonviolent approach. Incidentally, this will ultimately dictate the way the game’s story ends thematically. Generally the game is paced well and it allows you to play it rather loosely. Are you the type of gamer to kill everyone stealthily or chaotically? You can even sneak through and avoid violence altogether if you so chose and there are several ways to do it.
Corvo has two primary weapons; a pistol and a blade that doubles as a short blade and a sword. He also can use a crossbow with various arrow types and several magic-like abilities such as teleportation, time manipulation and some as unusual summoning of an army of man-eating rats. This makes the less violent challenges more difficult as the game’s features seem to make the player want to kill NPCs as oppose to letting them live. The most useful tool for this is probably the sleep arrows, but ammo is rather finite. Worse yet is enemy placement. It probably has to do with my limited stealth game experience, but I was not particularly good at keeping myself from being seen by the enemy. This is a game that caters to stealth fans, for sure. Though I feel I should stress that fans of games like Assassin’s Creed and Bioshock definitely can find enjoyment from this experience as well.
The graphics are mildly impressive, if unspectacular. Where this game excels visually is in its design. The characters are rendered in a stylized manner, somewhat like something out of a mature Pixar or Dreamworks film. Characters look unique, outfits are stylish and the building architectures are colorful and imaginative. The world is a ruined but new one and it is one worth exploring.
Unfortunately, not all of the architecture can be possibly explored. There were several occasions where I found myself unable to reach rooftops that I wanted to use to travel the world without being spotted. The game is sometimes unclear about where you are supposed to go for certain objectives (keyword being sometimes). Otherwise, it is a vibrant and well designed world that I would most certainly like to visit bigger and better in a sequel.
Bethesda struggled to find decent voice work for all but the primary cast in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and led to some humorous results with random NPCs. This is not the case in Dishonored. This game has some really quality voice work. Every character, even the one child character in the game, sounds authentic and part of the world they are in.
The score is also quite good. The music matches the situations in the game and they are dynamic and well conducted. Overall, zero complaints on what a player will hear in this game.
Overall Score: 16/20 = 8.0 out of 10
Dishonored is a good game. It is just a slightly flawed one that suffers from a forgettable and somewhat derivative story. Its gameplay ideas are more unique and are certainly worth exploring in a potential sequel. It’s also worth noting is that the PS3 version is a perfectly playable version of the game that suffers by easily ignorable technical issues. This is a game that a person plays mostly for its gameplay as oppose to anything else and it succeeds in providing a fun stealth/action experience. At worst, players should at least try the game for themselves. This is a game the should be played by core gamers and should be experienced despite the response. If you see it, try it; I reckon you will not regret it.
+ Fun and solid gameplay
+ Stylized and well designed world
+ Solid soundtrack and excellent voice work
– Forgettable and derivative story
– Unclear paths for the player